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)!

yugoweave copy

 

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!

 

Posted in Danish chairs, Woven Danish paper cord | 15 Comments

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.

moller83-00

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!

moller83-03

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.

moller83-04

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.

moller83-05

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!)

Posted in Danish chairs, oiling teak, Woven Danish paper cord | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

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.

WCH23 - a

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 | 11 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!

yugobench4

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!

Posted in mid-century modern, Woven Danish paper cord | 7 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.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

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 , , , , , , | 10 Comments

rare Bramin lounge chair

September 2016 UPDATE:  The designer of this chair has been confirmed as Hans Olsen.  See http://www.designaddict.com/forum/Identification/Danish-lounge-chair-ID ; scroll down to post #12 for a scan of the original furniture catalog featuring these with the design attribution.  Thanks to Leif and Design Addict!

mybramin01I bought this rarely-seen lounge chair by Bramin of Denmark for myself because it was so comfortable and I loved the look.  It consists of a styrofoam shelf with foam padding on a teak frame.  However, that upholstery…it is a beautiful Maharam fabric called “Radiant” but even with the right type of padding on this chair, this fabric doesn’t have enough give to it to hug those curves.

mybramin02I stripped all the old foam and polyester batting off the styrofoam shell and put new foam on.  The new fabric is Maharam/Kvadrat’s Hallingdal #830, which has blue threads in one direction and bright olive in the other.  I had some Tonus fabric all picked out for it but at the last minute I saw the Hallingdal on Modern-Fabrics.com and snatched it up!

mybramin5See that big dart where the back meets the arm?  And the general bagginess of the fabric?  You really need a slightly stretchy fabric for this kind of chair.  This one is beautiful, but it’s not right for this chair.

mybramin6Hallingdal works better.   Tonus would be even easier to work with but I was swayed by the color combo of that weave!

mybramin7This is the underside of the seat.  The entire outside of the chair is just one piece of fabric with the only seams being along the bottom sides where they don’t show.  It takes a lot of smoothing and tugging and readjusting to get them just right, then they are hand stitched in place. mybramin3aThe previous upholsterer just stretched the outside back fabric from seam to seam without trying to get it to conform to the contours of the shell.  Or maybe he tried but gave up in frustration, which I could totally understand.

 

mybramin4The fabric has to be glued to the styrofoam shell where it curves around the back perimeter.  This is tricky to do.  And you can see here that those seams along the bottom sides are hidden so all you get is that wonderful curved expanse of beautiful fabric.

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Overman sofa from Sweden

I redid this Overman sofa recently.  I know Overman production shifted to the US at some point but this was made in Sweden.

overmansofa1The fabric is “Fleece” by Unika Vaev, which started out as a Danish company.  The fabric is a reversible wool with bobbles of contrasting color wool in neat rows.  It’s very soft and nubby and has plenty of give for those lovely curves.

overmansofa2As usual, I forgot to take a before photo before I ripped into it.  It was covered in this vinyl with a nice pebbled cowhide look, but it had split in a few places and there’s no fixing that.

overmansofa4I like fabric on these better than vinyl anyway.

 

 

Posted in mid-century modern, Overman chair, Swedish chairs | 7 Comments

Fiber rush vs. Danish Paper Cord

Every once in awhile I see a Danish chair seat woven with fiber rush, or repairs done in fiber rush.   Are they they same thing?

No.

cord1

Both are made of twisted brown kraft paper, like the stuff paper bags are made of.  But fiber rush, which is a substitute for real rush (as in, bulrushes, which are the leaves of cattail plants) is one ply.  That means there’s only one strip of paper twisted to form the finished cord.  It’s the one on the left in the photo above.

Danish paper cord has three plies, or, rarely, two.  You can make them out in the photo above but that’s what’s called “unlaced”, which just means that it’s been rolled so that the plies are flattened together.   Unlaced cord is the one that’s easy to mistake for fiber rush.  It has the same smooth texture as fiber rush.  “Laced” paper cord has more definition to the plies.  It looks more like rope.

When you untwist the plies, the difference is striking.

cord2Even though the two are about the same diameter, you can see that the Danish paper cord has twice as much paper.  It’s also a better quality paper.  It has longer fibers that withstand a lot more wear than those in the fiber rush.

I don’t know if you can use Danish paper cord in chairs that are meant to be done in fiber rush.  I would think…probably?  But don’t use fiber rush on chairs that are supposed to have Danish paper cord.  It will wear out and break much sooner along the inside top edge of the front rail.  Authentic Danish cord breaks there too but it usually takes a few decades.

 

Posted in Danish chairs, Woven Danish paper cord | 38 Comments

Overman chair gets a fresh start for spring

overman1This chair made in Sweden by Overman has an appealing shape, but boy was that vinyl tired-looking!

overman2Knoll’s Classic Boucle in Crimson suits the chair’s personality perfectly, in my opinion.

overman3

Originally the seams were machine stitched and then top stitched.

overman4I hand stitch the entire perimeter instead, which gives it smoother, almost seamless look.

 

 

overman5Hand stitching is done by inserting a curved needle into each side of the seam at opposite points.   This is called a ladder stitch.

overman6After you do 6-8 stitches, you pull the thread tight and the seam closes up and nearly disappears–like magic!

(Thanks to Home Anthology for providing the setting for my photos of the finished chair.)

Posted in mid-century modern, Overman chair, Swedish chairs | 8 Comments