Friday, December 16, 2011

 You are looking at the ruins of a French Bergere.  I have owned the pieces of this chair for so many years that I can no longer remember how I came to own it.  I only know that I have always wanted to see it restored and have it my living room.  It is in French Second Empire style, and whenever I researched chairs of its style I could never find any that had the kind of openwork carvings on the wings like the dragon panels below.

It is not complete.  The crest rail, the piece at the top of the back that unites the side pieces, was missing when I got the chair.  The two legs on the left have worn off or broken bottoms (note that I have blocked up the left side).   But recently, I found a chair maker/wood carver who is unquestionably the man to bring this chair back to life.

The "skirt" piece, below, may become something of a model for recreating the crest rail.

Or, the female busts on the wings may suggest a female face in the center of the new crest rail. 

Fritz and I recently decided to have two partially broken side chairs of his sister's restored as our Christmas gift to her.  I had saved the business cards of two woodworkers the last time Fritz and I went on the open studio tour of members of the Deerfield, NH Art Association.  Because Greg Brown listed himself as chair maker as well as woodworker, we went to him with the chairs.  He's a relatively young man, extremely extroverted and a great deal of fun to talk with.  He is also a very fine artisan whose work appears on the covers of woodworking magazines, and his drawing skills are highly developed.

We gave him the job and he returned superb work.  At that moment I decided to discuss my chair with him.  A week or so later, we brought the pieces go his studio and, in discussing the chair and what the job would entail,  it became obvious that I was probably going to have him do the extensive work required.  He knew immediately that it was an early 20th century reproduction of a French original, when and how it had been made, and how it had probably been marketed by catalog in this country.  I took the pieces home to do the clean up work of removing all the old tacks and dry rotted shreds of upholstery.  In a follow-up eMail Greg used the term French Bergere and I have to research why the name Bergere, because in French it means a shepherdess -- and nothing about this chair has anything to do with country style.

At any rate, once I've finished removing the literally hundreds of tacks from the frame pieces, I'll take them back to Greg and he'll do the work that includes designing and carving the new crest rail.  I'll do the upholstery and post pictures when it's all finished.


The house is decorated for the holidays.  The pine cone swags are a couple of years old but still in excellent condition.  This year Fritz suggested filling the planters across the front and sides of the house with hemlock boughs and bittersweet that grows wild on parts of the property, a look I really love.  I don't want to put a lot of artificial decorations on the house because it has such a wonderfully natural "of the land" look to it.

This is our front door.  Because of the 4' overhangs, the windows and most of the siding of the house, all of which is cedar, will not weather.  But here in the front where there's a large concrete slab in front of the entry, rain splashes up off the slab so the lower parts of the walls are weathering down to an natural cedar gray.  The contrast isn't quite as strong as my digital camera made it out to be.

We installed a new door "bell" recently, an antique style bicycle horn.  Yes, it is loud enough to be heard inside the house!


I found this striking picture on the National Geographic site.  It's one of the prize winners in their annual photo contest.  The subject is a man-made "reef" in the form of an underwater sculpture park off shore at Cancun, Mexico.


Man oh man, that thing is as old as I am.
Regarding the cartoon - my father never did become accustomed to my left-handedness (his love and care for all of his children notwithstanding).
Arnie, I tend to think of you as being eternally youthful.

Will J, I can remember the nuns in grammar school forcing left-handed children to write with their right hands. Only when there was obviously no way it was going to work and the kids broke down in frustration did they relent and it wasn't with particularly good grace.
The house for Christmas looks beautiful (but it is obviously beautiful year-round). After all my recent talk of down-sizing, I would definitely keep that chair! The photo is brilliant. Love the cartoon. Such a collection in this post!
I like to have some variety, Mitch. Kinda like vaudeville. :-)
I am a lefty!
Lovely home decorations. (And home as well!)
It will be fascinating to see that chair when it is finished, Will. Are there any clues or standards from comparable chairs to help with the design of the new crest rail?

The look of those hemlock boughs and bittersweet is amazing! My coloured artifical lights are comparison. (But my neighbour said she thought they looked lovely. Score!)
Well, as I said, the skirt rail of he chair design could be adapted into a new crest rail but I also mentioned to him that the idea of a female face in the center of he new rail, building on he theme of the busts on either wing of the chair is also a possibility.

An intriguing idea would be to explore the juxtaposition on the chair of the dragons and the busts of women -- is there a mythic reference or story being told here?
I expect to have some conversation with Greg on this before he begins his design work. He's highly creative and our talks so far have been both wide-ranging and very productive.
The house looks lovely!

The chair is a bit ornate for my tastes, but I appreciate the work that went into building it. I aslo love the story that goes along with the chair. Can't wait to see the pics.
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