breaking with tradition

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I don’t usually get so many Yugoslavian chairs at once to reweave and this second rocker so soon after the last one kind of got me thinking about other approaches.  I know that these are often compared to Hans Wegner’s rocking chairs but they’re really not very similar.  I guess it’s just all the paper cord weaving on them that people focus on.

The weaving on this one wasn’t in as poor condition as many, but like most, it was loose and sagging.  They were done this way originally, I think.

I had an idea for something completely different.

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This is 2″ wide polypropylene webbing, very similar to the nylon webbing of Jens Risom chairs.  I really like it with the beech frame!

And, it’s just stapled on and is completely reversible.  No alterations were made to the frame, other than sanding and finishing the parts that were covered with cord (originally unfinished and rough cut, since they didn’t show at all).  If someone, someday, wants to redo it in paper cord, it can easily be done.

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I thought about using cotton webbing, but cotton is very hard to clean.  (It’s fine if you can throw it in a washing machine–but that’s not exactly possible with this application!)  There’s also nylon webbing, which has a glossy sheen and would work well.  And there’s seat belt webbing, which would work well except that it looks like—well, seat belts.

One of the things that’s nice about this chair is that it has that mid-century modern look but with a greater seat height than many, making it a good choice for people who have a hard time getting out of low chairs.  The arms and high back make it perfect for feeding and rocking babies, too!

This rocking chair and its paper cord twin are currently available at Home Anthology in Catonsville, MD.

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Another Yugoslavian folding chair gets new life

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I got this poor old thing awhile ago and kept putting off work on it because the frame needed refinishing.  It’s beech with a stain and then clear lacquer on top—it’s supposed to look like walnut but of course once the finish gets a little worn it is obvious that it’s not.

I chose to strip the lacquer and ebonize the chair with India ink, a process I’ve done on a number of other chairs.  I think it looks especially good on these chairs and any dings can be easily touched up with a dab of ink!

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There are at least several different versions of these chairs, which were mostly made in Yugoslavia but you will see some marked Italy and Japan; they were inspired by Hans Wegner’s folding lounge chair.  You might see one once in awhile being described as a Wegner original but that would be an incorrect attribution.

I like this version without the handles on the sides.  It looks so much more sleek.

 

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The paper cord didn’t have a lot of broken strands but it looked pretty awful nonetheless.

 

ebonyugo-06I also like that the seat is solid weaving—no gap towards the front the way more are done.
ebonyugo-07 ebonyugo-08Love that clean line!

 

ebonyugo-11These chairs often have a lot of visible knots.  This was the only visible one on this chair, at the lower outside back.
ebonyugo-12 It takes a little more work—mostly math and measuring—to weave it without knots, but it can be done.   There are two cord joins in the lower rail above.

 

This chair is currently available at Home Anthology in Catonsville, MD.  If you don’t see it in “New Arrivals”, check for it in “Seating”.

 

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Hans Bølling’s Stritt vs. Zooline knockoff

And now for something a little different…

Awhile ago I bought what I thought might be a “Stritt” figure by Hans Bølling, but I wondered about a few minor details that didn’t seem quite right.  It was hard to find any information about these online, partly because the name Stritt doesn’t seem to be well known.

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Some Zooline (Japan) figures have two buttons instead of a single bellybutton—maybe something they did to keep the design from being nearly identical?

Obviously the bottom half of the torso on the Zooline figure is light oak compared to wenge (?) on the Stritt, but I’ve seen some marked Stritts with lighter lower torsos.  The real Stritt’s torso has a more elegant egg shape vs. the slightly longer torso on the other, which is also broader at the top end.

(The hair on both these is newly replaced shearling wool.  Some Zooline figures have bright red hair, which I’ve never seen on a real Stritt.  Real Stritts have either dark brown or this medium brown.)

The hands are thicker on the real one.

 

IMG_3983You can see the difference in the ears here.  Zooline’s are the same thickness from outer edge to base while Stritt’s are thinner at the outer edge.

 

Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 8.27.28 PMReal Stritt’s ears are also squarish, while Zooline’s are round.

 

IMG_3988The shape of the top end of the torsos is more obvious here.  Also, real Stritt’s head can sink lower than Zooline’s head.

 

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Most Stritts have incised marks on the bottom of one foot but obviously not all of them do.  Zoolines usually came with a paper or foil label and many of these have fallen off over the years. (My Zooline guy was missing his feet altogether!)

 

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They’re fun to pose!

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Teak and beech chairs, Made in Sweden 10K-90

Sweden10K-90 1I got a set of six of these handsome Swedish chairs about four years ago and in all that time I never took a ‘before’ photo of them!  The seats were shot and the original lacquer finish was badly chipped and scuffed.  The legs on some of them were discolored from standing in water.  They had to be refinished completely.

Sweden10K-90 2I’ve researched the design at various times and have never found any information on the manufacturer or designer, if there even was an individual who came up with the design.  It seems to be a somewhat rare chair.  I’m guessing it dates to the 50s but I don’t know for sure.

Sweden10K-90 5The frames are solid beech; the backrests are teak-veneered plywood.  Very Scandinavian!

Sweden10K-90 4I love the sides.

Sweden10K-90 3There are two armchairs and four side chairs.  The set is currently available at Home Anthology in Catonsville, MD.   (And thank you to Home Anthology for allowing me to take photos at their store!)

 

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How to do the looped warp weave on Yugoslavian folding chair

yugo3People have asked me about this one but I have never seen instructions on how to do it.  I haven’t looked in awhile so maybe someone has published a how-to by now.  It’s simple but kind of counter-intuitive at a couple of points.  I learned by studying the original weave on a chair and just messing around with a piece of cord trying to copy it—and even then it took me at least half an hour!

This is my original drawing and it is copyrighted; you are welcome to link to it or include the diagram on your site as long as you credit Modern Chair Restoration.  Unauthorized sale of the diagram or its inclusion in materials for sale is absolutely forbidden.
This is only for the part of the weave that is different from other patterns.  The information here is not intended to be instruction on how to weave the entire chair.  The weft (side-to-side strands) are woven like other chairs where you have to wrap completely around the side rails.

Obviously this is a slightly exploded view.  In reality you will need to pack the cord as tightly together as possible on the rails as you work, once you’ve finished each step and have gotten all the slack out.

NOTE:  One of the rails is always wrapped as you make the warp strands.  That’s how you get the cord from one pair of warp strands to the next.  The second rail is wrapped separately and if there is only a small gap between the back and seat of your chair, this is much easier to do when the first rail that you wrap is at the top of the back (or front of the seat)!

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Additional tips:

  •  You must first figure out how much cord you need for the entire warp (the vertical strands on the chair back; front-to-back strands on seats).  Do this with a scrap piece that is a few yards long and figure out how many warp strands you need, using the original weave as a guide, or find a good photo online and count the pairs.  Then figure out how many wraps are needed on the rail and calculate that total length of cord.  Add the two together.  Because this weave is common on so many different styles of chairs, I’m not going to include lists of measurements.  You’ll have to do the math yourself.
  • MARK where the pairs of warp strands are on both rails.  There should be an odd number on each and numbers must match on top and bottom rails.  Make a single line on the top of each rail and then simply make sure that each cord in the pair is positioned on either side of the mark.
  • This is a LOT of cord and it’s usually not possible to use a shuttle on Yugoslavian chairs, so you must be able to keep the cord neat and contained, otherwise you end up with tangles that are frustrating and time-consuming to undo.  I find that a hank is the best way (more info below).  If the gap between the back and seat is big enough to pass a full shuttle through, then by all means use a shuttle!
  • Yes, this needs to be all one length of cord, at least for the back of a chair where it’s hard to hide tacked joints neatly and impossible to hide knots at all.  With seats it is possible to hide a joint, though I prefer to do it all with one strand.
  • If at all possible, schedule your weaving when you can devote several days in a row to it.  If you do a little here and a little there, you will most likely have to relearn it each time and that will end up adding hours to an already long project.  It’s the kind of thing that gets easier and faster with lots and lots of repetition—at least until you get to where you really think you know what you’re doing so you slack off on your focus and start making mistakes!  (Ask me how I know this.)
  • Work from left to right as shown in the diagram.  It’s possible to work from right to left but you have to tighten and then loosen the loops, or something awkward like that.  I did it once and vowed never again.
  • Do each pair of warp strands as shown above, leaving lots of slack because you will need to fit the entire bunch of cord through two different loops.  When all those steps are done, start tightening from the left and work towards the right.  Use a spring clamp to hold the cord taut if necessary, then wrap around the rail until you get to the mark for the next pair of warp strands.
  • You can contain your gigantic length of cord in one of two ways, either in big loops or a coil, but both must be bunched together in the center and secured with something.  Covered elastic is best (get some covered hair elastics at the grocery store) but a rubber band will do.  Non-elastic ties have to be readjusted too often for my taste and they tend to loosen when you don’t feel like stopping to tighten them again.  The coil will not work if you just tie it around the side.  That would have to be untied and retied every every time you need to pull more cord out—which will be often.
  • Many Yugoslavian chairs and others are woven with two or three pairs of warp strands in a row.  I like to do single pairs because the loops look more tidy that way. If you want that look, space them more closely on the rails (like four wraps between each pair, as in the photo at top), otherwise you end up with not many warp strands and that may make for a weaker seat.  I don’t think strength is an issue for the back.

Have fun!

 

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Møller 66 chair transformed by oiling

This is one of a set of four chairs that I recently got to restore.  Three of them were ok but this one had some serious-looking something going on in the back.

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It looked like someone had poured some kind of solvent over the back—something that immediately broke down the oil finish and left the wood bare and dry.  I thought at first that the wood was actually bleached and that color in the form of a wood stain, or something, would have to be applied in order for it to look like teak again and not driftwood!

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You can see the well-defined drip marks in the underside of the lower back on the left.  Alcohol and acetone will do this but who knows what really happened.  It was strange.

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Yes, this is the same chair!  And all it took to get it to look like this was oil and #0000 steel wool!  The wood wasn’t bleached, or at least not much.  It was mostly just really, really dry.  I did have to oil it a few times over the course of a week or two.

moller83-07Extreme close-up.  The other odd thing was that some of the light areas were really well-defined but others look more like the color had worn off where the chair had been handled a lot—which of course wasn’t the case because that’s not how it works with teak.  I’d never seen anything like it.

moller83-08Some of it refused to disappear completely but it was pretty close.

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Another shot.

 

moller83-06 The other thing is that the teak went from having a very yellowish cast to this gorgeous, deep aged teak color.  That was a huge relief too, since the other three were already close to this when I got them.

Oh yeah, and I rewove the seats on all four.

moller83-01 moller83-02(that’s actually not the same chair but the seats all look the same!)

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Hans Wegner CH23 dining chairs

I was recently asked to redo the seats and clean up the frames on a set of four Hans Wegner CH23 chairs plus an extra that the owner had gotten from somewhere else.  The seats on the set of four had long ago been replaced with black vinyl and the new owner wanted them redone with paper cord.

IMG_1689The set of four were also lighter in color than the fifth chair and after trying to oil the first one, I figured out why—someone had added a thin coat of varnish to them!  It was done long ago, I’m guessing by the same person who put the vinyl on the seats, and it was definitely not original because there were drips here and there.  The original owner at the time had his reasons, I’m sure, but the varnish was unevenly worn.  It also was why they were lighter in color—almost blond.

I tried to convince myself that the chairs would look good enough when simply cleaned up…but they didn’t.  So I ended up stripping the varnish off with methylene chloride stripper.  I don’t normally do refinishing to that degree but this job’s timeline didn’t allow for an extra couple of weeks at a refinisher’s.  Fortunately, the varnish came off easily.

WCH23 - dIt also left the wood very, very dry, but I expected that.  A few coats of oil and it looked beautiful again.

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This dramatic before & after is the same chair!  You can see how the varnish kept teak a much lighter color.  The finished set of four and the fifth chair all matched perfectly in the end.  I had to look at the grain patterns to tell which was which.

IMG_1718I think this was the one that hadn’t been varnished.  Those odd drip stains on the back came out pretty easily with #0000 steel wool and Star-brite teak oil.

WCH23 - kThe ends of the legs looked like they’d had some water damage but oil and steel wool took care of that.  The wood still has the patina of age, which is desirable for chairs like these.

Screen Shot 2016-02-26 at 2.44.17 PMWater spots like the ones in the top photo come out with just gentle scrubbing with steel wool and oil.

 

Finally it was time to move on to the weaving!

WCH23 - e1This weave takes longer because you have to pull the cord all way through each time instead of just hooking a loop of cord onto an L-nail—also means working with cut lengths instead of pulling it off the coil as you go.  But it’s such a handsome pattern!

WCH23 - jI do as tight a weave as possible so that there is minimal movement of the strands when the chair is sat upon.  It seems to me that the less room the strands move against each other and against the frame, the longer they will last.

WCH23 - zI wish I had room to photograph all five at once but I don’t, so you’ll have to take my word for it that all of them ended up the same deep, rich color!

Posted in Danish chairs, mid-century modern, Woven Danish paper cord | 2 Comments

unusual trestle bench with paper cord seat

yugobench1I spotted the woven top on this bench in a thrift store and of course had to check it out.  It was marked Made in Yugoslavia, which was no surprise–it has the same look as the folding lounge chairs that are so common. But I’d never seen a bench before!

The lacquer on the beech frame was very chipped and there was permanent water staining on bottom of the base.  It was a perfect candidate for stripping and ebonizing with India ink.

I also didn’t like the way the weaving had sagged; this is the nature of this particular weave but it’s more pronounced when warp strands have to span a longer distance like they do here.  Chair seats are not usually this saggy with this weave.

First I stripped all the lacquer off with acetone and applied the India ink.   Then after giving it a lot of thought, I decided to convert it to a Danish style weave with L nails on the inside of the frame.  I added about 170 nails in all.  There was just enough room for the nails in the inside edge of the frame and it worked out pretty well.

Finished!

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This weave is way less prone to sagging and it has a firmer feel.  It’s so flat that the bench could even be used as side table.

yugobench3I think the ebonized frame gives it a much more stylish look.  I’m a big fan of paper cord on black!

 

This bench will be available at Home Anthology beginning Sunday, Dec. 19, 2015.

Posted in mid-century modern, Woven Danish paper cord | 5 Comments

announcement

Due to circumstances beyond my control, I have lost my workspace and will be suspending upholstery operations.  The set-up I had there just doesn’t exist anywhere else, unfortunately.  I am making this decision after many months of careful consideration.

I will still be doing weaving with Danish paper cord, rattan, fiber rush, etc.  I will also be adding some limited specialty cushions in the coming months and will post about that here.  I plan to keep blogging, so stay tuned!  Thanks for all your wonderful comments and support in the past.

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Wegner CH22 chairs get new seats

CH22-1I recently redid a pair of these Wegner CH22 chairs.  The seat on this one wasn’t too bad but the other one had the typical broken strands along the front rail.  The wood on both had been treated with some kind of tinted furniture polish that left it blotchy and dull.

 

CH22-2This may actually be the other of the two, I’m not sure!  The wood on the back is more even in tone now, though it looks pretty dark here (probably due to lighting).  I think people use those tinted polishes to get their furniture to match other furniture in the room.  Gah.

CH22-3A broken strand or two opens a gap like this.

 

 

 

 

CH22-4Paint is hard to get out.  Maybe impossible.

 

CH22-5While I really like the patina of old Danish cord in good condition, I think fresh new cord looks really stunning on a vintage chair.

 

CH22-6Wegner chairs with cord seats often have small slots at the arm posts and/or back spindles where you have thread the cord through instead of wrapping it around the entire frame.  This requires very accurate weaving because it diminishes the margin of error by a lot.  The slots are always the width of a specific number of strands.  I love the precision of it.

 

CH22-7The back of the seat has this very handsome detail that makes it impossible to use a shuttle when weaving, so the whole process takes longer.  But it’s so beautiful!

Posted in Danish chairs, mid-century modern, Woven Danish paper cord | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments