Friday, 19 April 2013

Rockn' Renoir

Having recently been inspired by images of fantastic tapestry upholstery (pics on right) by people such as Suzie Stanford (Melbourne) I decided this was something I definitely needed/wanted to try.

First step:  find a suitable chair.  This was easy because I'd recently acquired an old bentwood rocker as part of the purchase of 2 fantastic retro wingchairs (THAT's another story - stay posted!).
2nd step:  find suitable tapestry.  Here stepped in a new friend (a real-life one from Facebook no less) - Ingrid - who introduced me to the wonderful world of the local auction house.  
What a day we had! Among the booty was a stash of 5 old tapestries.  At first I had ethical considerations about was it OK to cut up someone's lovingly-made work... in the case of a few of these bought that day... they are suberbly made, stitched I think in silk (it's very fine work, would love someone in the know to tell me if I'm right,) and usually extremely well-framed.  I decided that if I didn't "re-purpose" them then it was more than likely that someone else would buy them simply for the frames, and the tapestry might be thrown out.  Ethical dilemma solved.
3rd step:  decide what to use. In this case it was an easy decision that made itself for me - this particular tapestry*, in its portrait orientation (most are landscape) yelled - "PICK ME!". It would be easy to fit the important part of the image onto the chair's oval-shaped inside back.
* this is a closeup from Renoir's famous painting "Luncheon of the Boating Party".

4th step (the tricky bit): work out how to do the actual upholstery part. Because I was replacing the rattan - which fitted in the usual way with a cane spline into a groove - there actually was nowhere to attach the upholstery.  With a bit of experimenting, I worked out how to use my router to completely reshape that edge of the inside back (having removed the rattan altogether) to create a rebate for fixing the upholstery to.
5th step:  keep the timber colour or paint it?  This caused me a lot of pondering, because painting was going to add a lot of time to the project. If I left it the way it was it would be "ok"... but unfortunately the timber was actually extremely weather-beaten (maybe left out on a verandah) and had been polyurethaned over. All the daggy bits of the timber finish were encased, visibly, for ever unless I covered them.  My paint colour was also an easy decision - this lovely electric blue full-gloss enamel - was already on my paint shelf, and matched (I thought) beautifully with the gal's dress.
6th step: choosing seat and outside back fabrics... again easy... this multi-coloured stripe (Warwick Fabric/Randall/Encore/Multi) is a favourite of mine and seemed to suit.
7th step:  Do it.
8th step: Stand back, admire, post on Facebook (since doing this yesterday the post has had over 800 hits from around the world... nearly my best ever).
9th and most important step:  Does it pass Miss Harriet Snupeson's exacting Quality Control? 
Yes!  Phew.

10th and final step: Off to the Old Bus Depot Market (for sale @ $485) this Sunday 21st April.  

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