Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Chairs for Goldilocks!

A few weeks ago, I found some very "old world" looking chairs at the thrift store.  Since we imagine our house as being sort of a Tudor house, I thought they might be perfect.  Really, they are a "Spanish Colonial" look made in Mexico--probably in the 1970's.  But accuracy in "old world-ness" is not that important to me.

This is what they looked like when I brought them home from the store.  Their seats were sagging considerably and they were upholstered in a faded and worn flower print.

Since I've upholstered chairs many times before, I knew this would be an easy fix!

I pulled off the old upholstery and re-stretched the webbing below.  It was hard work pulling and stretching and stapling.  When I got one chair done---I kept going.

I found some nice orange upholstery material in my sewing supplies and thought it would go well with my tile entry.  I cut it.  I carefully cut the corners in.  I put the padding back in.  I stretched it and stapled it all carefully.  One chair was completely done!

But when I stood back to look at all my hard work....all I could think was, "Meh."  A word my son taught me.  There was nothing exciting about it.  The chair was just boring.  Really, really boring.

What could I do?  I thought about finding some more interesting cloth and redoing the whole thing.  I thought perhaps I could upholster it in real leather!  Costly---but it would definitely give it a more "old world" feel.

I decided to take to the internet.  I searched "Old World Chairs."  I searched "Spanish Colonial Chairs."  I found lots of more beautiful chairs in many different styles.

And then I found THESE!!

Not exactly like my chairs---but close enough!  And the cane rush seats were just "Old World" enough for me!  But of course, I didn't even know the words "cane rush" at that point.  I just knew they had some sort of natural fiber wrapped on the seats.

A few more searches and a couple of YouTube videos and I was more educated!  It didn't seem too difficult!  I could learn how to "re-cane" a chair!  But where to get supplies?  No basket weaving stores nearby.  And JoAnn's fabric was unlikely to carry anything.

Then I remembered I live in THIS century and there is something called Amazon!  A couple of clicks later and I had 6 pounds of "fibre rush"on it's way to my house!

Two days later......

How EXCITING!  It's here!  It's here!  And I've watched the "how to" video several times!

First step---take all the old webbing off.  One. Staple. At. A. Time.

Finally done!

One beautifully naked chair!  Now to follow the video instructions...

Measure the back of the chair.  Measure the front of the chair.

Do some math.  With FRACTIONS.  Ugh!

 Measure in on the front of the chair 1/2 the difference on the right and left.

Make a mark.  You will have to "fill in" with pretend weaving to this mark.  So that the real weaving will be straight and parallel to the back edge.

The pretend weaving is tacked down with every strand.  Luckily, it was only a few strands needed before I had reached my mark.  Then I could begin weaving around all four corners!

The fiber must be kept taut as you weave.  So I used a clip to hold the fiber in place while I wove another turn around the chair.  "Over the front, down and up through the middle.  Over the left side, up through the middle.  Over the right side, up through the middle.  Over the back right, up through the middle."  Etc. etc. etc.  I had to say it out loud to keep myself weaving the right way.

It took much longer than I thought.  And each turn around the chair used up more length of fiber than I imagined.

Since you can't fit a whole spool of fiber around and through the chair--you measure off some and wrap it up in a bunch of round loops.  But you will need to add more in periodically.  You make a square knot and hide it on the bottom weaving so it won't show from the top.

You have to make sure your weaving is even.  Mine was sort of, kind of, even.  But good enough!  I kept going.

Round and round.  Back aching.  Round and round some more.  (You can see my bucket of water in this picture---the fiber must be dunked for 30 seconds before using.  This makes it more pliable.)

When you get to this point, you must fill the gaps between the top weaving and the bottom weaving with cardboard triangles.  This will help support the chair seat and keep the fibers from pulling too hard against the edges of the chair.  Making the seat last longer.  I cut cardboard pieces and stuffed them in.  On top.  And on the bottom.

Eventually, your hole in the middle gets very small and you can only pass the fiber through one strand wide.  No passing through a whole looped circle anymore.  Each side becomes one single step.

Here's what it looks like on the bottom.

And the sides get done before the front and back.  But you just keep looping from the front and back then.  You have to open up the center hole from time to time in order to pass your fiber through.  I used a needle-nose pliers to stretch the fibers out of the way.

And when you have squeezed in just the right amount of loops, you tie it off on the bottom of the chair!

Ta Dah!!!  DONE!  

I REALLY like how it looks!  And it's so fun to have learned a new "old world" skill!

Now to undo the first chair and make it more beautiful, too!

Or perhaps I should keep it as is.  The hard chair could be for Great Big Papa Bear.  And the soft one could be for Middle-sized Mamma Bear.  And I would only need to find a half-broken chair for Little Baby Bear.  ; )

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Ding Dong Doorbell's Done!!!

The new doorbell housing is DONE!!!

Yes, we could have just replaced the doorbell all together...but I really liked the sound it made (little hammers hitting real chimes!) and nothing new was that impressive.

But this plastic haunted house HAD TO GO!  It was scaring me!

I wanted to build something sort of "Old World" feel---to match the doors we have been refinishing and distressing.  

I had seen this old chest for sale on Ebay and that was my inspiration for the project.

 Because I am always an optimist and think new things are fun to try, I ordered up the cheapest set of carving tools I could find on Amazon.  I knew they wouldn't be great---but reviews said they at least were sharp to begin with!

I printed off a pattern for a "Tudor Rose" from a website named, "How to carve a Tudor rose."  We like to think our house has a Tudor feel to it.  And this seemed like a good first carving project.

I transferred the design onto my piece of wood.  I chose pine because I was pretty sure I wouldn't be able to carve oak as my first project.  And Home Depot didn't have any other options for wood.

A video I watched on carving said to go around the outside of your design first with a small V tool.  I didn't have a small V, but I had a small U-shaped tool.  It seemed to work.

Next, I used a flat tool to "define the edge" of the design and then began removing wood slanting in towards the line I had made.

Starting at the outside and moving inward, I carved away at my little project for several days.  It was so much fun to feel the wood curling up under my tool.  It was almost addictive.  But it was also painful!  My elbows hurt terribly after a carving session.  And I developed blisters on my thumbs.  But as soon as I felt better, back I would go.  At night, I closed my eyes and saw curling wood in front of me.

Pretty soon, I was done!  It really looked like a flower!  Maybe not perfect---but pretty amazing to me!

I built a box, using the dimensions of the old plastic haunted house.  I even re-used a piece of metal that sits down into the doorbell mechanism at the back and holds everything on the wall.  It was a perfect fit!  And the chimes still could ring!

A little stain and a little distressing the wood and I was done!

It isn't perfect---and looks very much like the pine it is made out of---but I am happy with it!


Ding Dong!  Come Right In!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A Thing of Beauty is a Joy Forever!

A Thing of Beauty has come to live at our house!

We found this antique rocking chair at Goodwill last weekend.  It was marked $50--which was a GREAT buy!  But it turned out that the whole store was about to close and move to a new location and so everything in the store was 50% off!  And since we had donated some stuff out of our garage earlier, they had given us a coupon for an additional 25% off!  We walked away with an antique oak rocker in fantastic condition for only $20!!!

It is made of beautiful quarter-sawn oak!

The lovely arms are smooth with wear.

The tips of the arms roll over gently into a carved scroll.

The seat has hand-tied springs that make for such a soft sitting!

The only thing missing is a little chunk of wood that has come unglued and fallen out at some point.

It should look like the other side.  A little triangular piece of wood that was glued on and then cut to the curved shape so the arm didn't have to be made out of quite such a large piece of wood.  I think I can carve a piece to replace it.

But in the meantime, this beautiful old rocker needs a nice reupholster!

I started by using my handy dandy tack puller---bought over 25 years ago when I reupholstered our first couch.  It has proved a useful tool on numerous occasions for numerous reasons!

The outer decorative tacks just hold on the trim.  Underneath are the tiny tacks that hold the cloth on the chair.

I was sure to put each and every tack into a bowl as I took them off.  They hide in the carpet and are NO FUN to step on.  This is the voice of experience.  

Looking a little naked---but not for long, you Regal Old Lady!

I broke out my blue velvet.  Bought at the Henredon furniture outlet store in North Carolina and still wrapped in the plastic from the movers---hauled with me each time we've moved!  Because it is just too beautiful!

The same blue velvet that I covered pillows with 10 years ago.

Using the old material as a pattern, I traced around it with some chalk.  

Then I cut roughly around my pattern---going quite a bit wider, so that I would have enough material to hold on to when I stretched and staple gunned it into place.

I laid the velvet over the seat and cut in diagonally on the corners to where my chalk corner lines were.

Folding the corners back on themselves, I carefully pulled the velvet around each corner leg of the chair.

Smoothed out the material, making a few adjustments and tiny clips in the corners until it set just right around each wooden corner leg.

I got out my handy dandy staple gun and went to work!

Pull and staple.  Pull and staple.  All the way around all 4 sides.

Trimmed off the excess cloth.

Added some trim back!

And Voila!  A beautiful chair in a perfect corner.

Just in time for this Little Man!

Who is bringing his parents and coming to live with us for a while!