Wegner-style Yugoslavian folding rope chairs

This vintage Wegner-style folding chair was made in Yugoslavia.  It was one of a pair that I redid recently.

 

The original cotton cord was very worn with lots of broken strands.  I forgot to take photos of the whole chairs, as usual!

 

Same shot of the seat, redone with Danish paper cord which wears better than the cotton cord on the originals.  I think the cotton cord also stretches more than the paper cord, which you do not want.

 

The originals had a lot of knots like this one showing on the back.

 

I used a different weaving technique on the sides and also took care to attach all new strands with hidden staples instead of knots.

 

The originals always have these wrapped strands which end up bunched together unevenly.  Not a very sleek look.

 

With my method, there are wrapped strands but with wider spacing to avoid the bunched look.  And the side rails do not have those little wraps at all.

 

Another knot.

 

No knots, and that overlap on the lower rail turns into a pretty detail when repeated.

 

One more shot of those bunched-up wraps.  Last one, I promise.

 

These invite strumming, no?

 

Just as good-looking from the back as from the front so you can pull them out into the room if you want.

 

 

 

 

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55 Responses to Wegner-style Yugoslavian folding rope chairs

  1. Nini says:

    Absolutely gorgeous! Another fine job by MCR!!!

  2. Heather says:

    Wow! Very impressive! Would you consider sharing your tips of how you did this? Is there a tutorial out there somewhere that you followed or just from your own experience? I love to fix up mcm chairs too and this one seems to be calling my name! Any tips you can give would be greatly appreciated! 🙂

    • MCR says:

      Thanks for your kind words, Heather! As much as I would like to offer instruction on the techniques that I use, I just don’t have the time what with having to earn a living at this and all. I learned from experience and from looking at other examples online and in person. It can be done. Good luck!

  3. Roger Lopez says:

    You did a marvelous job on those chairs! I bookmarked your website in case I can ever use your services.

  4. Crystal says:

    I have this exact chair in my attic. It was passed down to us from my husband mother who bought it in the 50’s. I have been looking to have it done since about half of the cord is undone. Can you please contact me on how much it would cost to have it redone. You did an amazing job on those chairs! I live in Bel Air, Md.

    Thank you!

  5. Ruth says:

    My daughter also has this chair. Can you please give me an estimate to restore it? She lives in Philadelphia.

  6. samantha schneider says:

    Hi, I was wondering what kind of material you used for the new weave? I also have a chair like this and was wondering where you are located in case I’d like for you to repair it. I’m in Atlanta. Thanks and beautiful job!

  7. Love your website. It’s good to see that you treat the wood as I do. Although I tend to use Danish oil which is very similar to Teak oil. When I start the cleaning, I use a 50/50 cut with white spirit (turps substitute) and the finest wire wool. Then build up with full strength.
    I have a similar chair to this but yours appears to be much narrower. The back of mine measures 20.5″ high x 21″ across. Seat 18.5″ deep and 24″ across.
    I have not found any maker’s marks so far but I have not started restoration – yet. It has been suggested that mine may be by Erbert Wells, and predates Wegner. Some even say that Wegner copied Wells!
    Does yours have any marks which give you an idea of origin?
    I am going to use a 3mm (1/8″) flagline made of “Hempex” which is a synthetic material but and feels just like the flax flagline that is on at present, which I am sure is the original.
    There is a photo of the chair on the “for sale” page of my website (which is down at the moment whilst it gets hooked up with a new server”.

    • MCR says:

      Sue,

      These belonged to a client and I don’t have them anymore so I can’t compare measurements, but I think they were at least 20″ wide at the back. They were incised “Made in Yugoslavia”, I think on the side rail of the seat. Good luck with yours!

  8. Marque says:

    We have a rocking chair of the same style that was in fairly good shape. We were told the chair is an outdoor chair. Can you tell me if that is recommended for this style of chair? The chair has been used outside for quite some time now and seems to be holding up well. I’ve recently refinished the wood and now am looking for ways to condition and/or protect the rope seat base and back. Can you offer any suggestions with respect to protecting the rope from summer weather elements? Thank you so much!

    • MCR says:

      I would not use chairs like these outdoors. They have wood joints that will eventually come apart if left out in rain and hot sun, plus the finish will eventually flake off. It’s very difficult to make wood weatherproof. As for the paper cord, you will definitely shorten the life of it if it is left outside. I don’t know of anything that will weatherproof it. Sorry! You could always take the chair outside to sit in and bring it back in with you when you come in. They are lightweight enough that this isn’t a big inconvenience.

      • Marque says:

        Thanks so much for the quick advice. I genuinely appreciate it and will make the chair a permanent indoor resident. Thanks again!

  9. Caleb says:

    If I were interested in having you redo my chair just like this, how would I go about finding someone to do this??

    • MCR says:

      Caleb, if you are in the Washington/ Baltimore area, I would be happy to give you a quote via email. I don’t have a directory of people around the country who do this type of chair, though.

      • Richard Kehr Jr. says:

        MCR, I just read a few of the posts regarding the Wegner/Wells rope chairs. Was fortunate enough to pick up a couple. Do you have any recommendations for specialists in repairing them in the San Francisco Bay area?

        Thanks.

        • MCR says:

          I don’t have a nationwide directory of people who do this work, but you could call The Caning Shop in Berkeley, CA and ask if they have recommendations. Jim Widess is the owner and he wrote The Caner’s Handbook which has great instructions on how to do the more common Danish chairs with paper cord. It’s where I learned to do the craft.

  10. Matthew says:

    I have a similar chair and will be attempting to re-cord it. One question though, for these folding chairs, since there are no L nails to loop around, do you have to work with the Danish cord pre-cut or can you weave straight from the Danish cord roll like the regular dining chairs?
    If it needs to be pre-cut, any advice on what length of cord I would need?

    • MCR says:

      Matthew,

      Anytime you have to wrap around a side rail instead of hooking onto L-nails, you must use a cut length of cord. Get a copy of The Caner’s Handbook for more instructions on this. I think they recommend 30 yard lengths for this though I’m not sure. Shorter is always easier when starting out. Longer lengths are more prone to tangling.

      Good luck!

  11. Carrie Walton says:

    I have two of these chairs and one is in very bad shape. The frames are in great shape though. Can you provide me with at quote for repairing the both of them? I live in San Diego, CA. Thank you!

  12. John says:

    I have two of these chairs myself… I’ve started my restoration project with this post as a big inspiration. Do you have a rough estimate of how much paper cord is needed to refinish 2 full chairs (bottom and back) in pounds?

    • MCR says:

      I buy cord in 20 lb. coils and have never calculated the weight of the cord used in one of these chairs. But you can figure it out with a little math: a 17″x18″ Moller chair seat uses 2 lbs of cord with a little left over. From that you can get the weight per square inch, then figure the area of the woven back and seat of the Yugo chair and go from there.

  13. Jaime says:

    Thanks for the great information. What diameter Danish Paper cord did you use for the Yugo folding chair?

  14. Elizabeth says:

    I am trying to redo my own chair but I cannot figure out how to do this weave. There are no tutorials out there. If you ever do decide to do a tutorial, please let me know. I would be most appreciative and, as I can see from the other comments, so would many others. Many thanks and I will soldier on with this project. Fingers crossed.

    • MCR says:

      “The Caner’s Handbook” is very helpful for the basic weave technique, then you can just figure out the variations by looking at how it was done previously. That’s how I did it, anyway. Good luck!

  15. Ty says:

    I have alwasy been interested in these types of chairs, but have never had the opportunity to figure out how to properly begin and end the chord. how do you tie it off so that there isn’t a big knot sticking out for everyone to see?

    Can you provide some advice? maybe some process images?

    • MCR says:

      I simply tack or staple the end to the inside of the posts on the back. Or if I can’t staple it and have to knot instead, I knot it so that the knot falls between two wood members. Sometimes you have to pound the knot flat with a hammer so that it fits into the narrow space, but it can be done.

  16. Alison says:

    Your website is amazing and you are so patient with all our questions! I’ve recently moved from Australia to the USA. I picked up a chair like this one at the thrift store for $10 (it needs a lot of work!). Just wondering if you had any tips of spotting a real from a replica? I can’t see any stamps Made in Yugoslavia on the frame. Late last year, a company called Designcraft put a little show of Wegner furniture together in Canberra, Australia. They had a real Wishbone and a replica on display and a label with “Spot the differences”. Here’s some snaps from it http://www.alison-spence.com/blog/2014/9/29/hans-j-wagner

    • MCR says:

      Alison, all you need to do is compare photos of your chair to a photos of a Wegner chair from a trusted source. (Not sure what that link is about–I didn’t see anything like what you were talking about there.)

  17. Wade Macklem says:

    I have the same chairs and am looking to also have them restored. Literally the exact same…how much are you looking to charge to have them restored.

    Thanks, Wade

  18. Wendy Williams says:

    Hi – I think this looks fabulous. I have just bought 4 Mogens Kold chairs that appear to use the same weaving pattern that you used here – does it have a name? I would love to be able to bring them to you but alas I am in the UK! So I am trying to find out about weaving and how I could restore the chairs myself – just having trouble finding out how to do this kind of technique with no nails front and back but with the looping method- is there any help at all you might be able to give me?

    • MCR says:

      Thanks—I figured it out just by looking at the weave and undoing it. It’s easier if you work from left to right as you face the chair, and one or two steps are counter-intuitive because you have to take the cord back the way you came before going forward.

      It can also get a bit confusing with all the loops of cord that look like they’re crossing over and under as required but then it turns out they’re not quite right. I still mess up sometimes and have to undo a few steps.

      I drew a diagram for the weave but haven’t posted it yet. I have to write the text for it. I’ll try to get that up soon.

    • MCR says:

      http://www.modernchairrestoration.com/2016/05/how-to-do-the-looped-warp-weave-on-yugoslavian-folding-chair/

      Please leave any comments or questions about the process on that new post rather than on this one. Thanks!

  19. Funny, I was about to ask if you knew what this weave is called and where to find a diagram for the weave, and I look up and see that last post from Wendy Williams asking the same. I am building a lounge and I wanted to use this weave. Originally I wanted to use the CH25 weave but the back seems complicated and this will be my first go at danish cord. Any help pointed in the right directions would be greatly appreciated. This chair will be in an exhibit in the Maloof Foundation in a few months.

    • MCR says:

      I don’t know that it has a specific name! I’m not sure any of the weaves used on Danish Modern chairs have official names, though the rush-style weave on Wishbones has a name in Denmark but I’ve forgotten what it is. I’ll have to look that up.

      I’ve also never seen any books or videos covering this weave though there may be something published since my last search, which was awhile ago.

      I’ll go ahead and publish my diagram. It’s very easy to do once you get the hang of it, though you do have to maintain a certain level of focus on what you’re doing because a wrong move can seem totally correct until you get a step or two past it. Suddenly you notice something’s wrong but you’re sure you did it all correctly.

    • MCR says:

      http://www.modernchairrestoration.com/2016/05/how-to-do-the-looped-warp-weave-on-yugoslavian-folding-chair/

      Please leave any questions or comments about the process on that blog post rather than here. Thanks!

  20. You will have eased my mind! Thank you sir!… I just noticed you are in Maryland. I am from Richmond Va but currently reside in San Diego. If I here of any friends or family back home that may need some restoration work I will send them your way.
    Cheers!

  21. Patty says:

    Love your work! You have empowered me to attempt to refinish one of these chairs I recently acquired. My frame is in good shape but could use some refinishing. How was the wood frame on these chairs refinished. Teak oil or was it stripped, restrained and clear coated. I appreciate your advice. Thanks

    • MCR says:

      I didn’t do the refinishing on these but I’m pretty sure they were stripped, stained and then coated with clear lacquer. The originally finish is either a stain plus clear lacquer, or a tinted lacquer and the wood is almost always beech. You could oil it, I guess. I prefer to just strip the whole thing and do an ebonized finish with India ink and then paste wax for a soft glow.

  22. Susan says:

    I love the modifications you did , It looks so much sleeker. Can you tell me what size Danish paper cord you used ?

    • MCR says:

      Most Danish paper cord is 1/8″ diameter, give or take a hair. There is also a 1/4″ diameter but most places do not carry that size. It was used on some Danish chairs but would not work on the Yugoslavian chairs very well, in my opinion. I have always just used the 1/8″ diameter cord.

  23. Ivan says:

    I was repairing a chair like this a few years ago for a esteemed customer.
    This seat is verry hard to make. If my memory serves me well I needed around 200-250 meters of rope, 4 mm thick
    And I needed 16 hours of knitting to make a whole chair.

    • MCR says:

      I am about to start another one; I’ll try to remember to record the total weight of the cord that I use on it. I think the first one I did probably took me 15-16 hours but with practice I’ve gotten it down to more like 9 or 10. Anytime you have to pull the entire length of cord through on each pass, you add a lot of time. The L-nail system is so much faster!

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