Wednesday, March 07, 2012
Then I pulled them apart and we took the chair to Greg Brown, an master woodworker who works less than half an hour from here. He identified it as a circa 1910 American-manufactured reproduction of a French Second Empire parlor arm chair or Bergere.
Before I gave them to Greg to work on, I brought the pieces home and pulled out all the furniture and upholstery tacks and got rid of the dry-rotted shreds of the old upholstery. I felt that an artisan on his level had a lot better things to do than dig corroded tacks out of old wood. Then we delivered everything back to him for the real work to begin.
He sent me these two sketches for the new crest rail; the top one is based on my thought that it might be good to echo the scallop shell motif of the existing skirt rail (bottom of the seat). The bottom one is his own invention. So I processed the sketches with the picture of the re-assembled chair to see what each of the rails would look like in place. I lived with them for most of the day and decided that the continuous arch of Greg's own design looked better with the chair's lines.
Greg emailed me yesterday to say the work was complete. He had asked me if I wanted a painted finish like the original, which he analyzed as a milk paint in a faux mahogany color. I said I thought it would be a mistake to make the chair look too fresh and glossy, that the rough life it had gone through should somehow be honored in its restoration. So, he used various pigmented stains and got everything harmonized, then put on a simple finish of wax.