Wing (Chair) Nut

Those of you who read this blog regularly know that some of my “adventures” don’t always stick. After flying through the air on a trapeze, I didn’t run away and join the circus. Nor have I joined a synchronized swimming team (although I did think about it). One activity that I tried, fell in love with, and have continued is upholstery. I took my first upholstery class in the early days of this blog over a year ago. I was immediately drawn to the combination of creativity and design with sheer physical effort. Upholstery has it all: I could indulge my love of color and interior design while working my day’s frustrations out by ripping and yanking a chair apart and pulling and stretching fabric into place.

Many of you have read, and watched as I tackled my third, and most difficult project to date: a wing chair. I bought the chair (and its twin) on ebay for $99 for the pair (an amazing deal) and found the Albert Hadley fabric at Griswold’s fabric outlet (a real treasure trove). I had to rip the chair to shreds and build it back up, tightening springs, and layering cotton upon muslin upon burlap with a beautiful final layer of fabric.

I started working on this chair in January…so obviously I am not the speediest upholsterer. I had ups and down in the process (I even broke my chair’s leg on Valentine’s Day…I have that effect on dates), and I needed a lot of help, but I am finally finished!

Many of the activities I try for this blog are challenging physically, others are a test of confidence, or even emotionally demanding. This wing chair was a test of my patience. This was a long, hard process. I desperately wanted to be (very) good at upholstering. And while this blog has inspired an evolution of sorts — I am no longer afraid of being bad at something — the prolonged nature of this upholstery project really tested this evolved version of me. I can handle being bad at something for an afternoon or event a full day. But week after week…that was starting to get to me. I was learning as I progressed, but my teacher had to correct me often and I had to re-do elements of the chair often.

There was no real resolution to my frustration, but I was able to sit with it, come to peace with the fact that upholstery is a skill and art that people study for years. Who was I to expect to be good, or even proficient at it in just one year? But all that frustration melted away when I hauled my chair into the corner of my bedroom and saw how beautiful it is, how comfortable it is, and how accomplished I feel. And as I sit in my wing chair writing this post, all the hard work and frustration feels well worth it, and I can’t wait to get started on my next project.

For those who missed my previous posts, here is a step-by-step pictorial of my greatest upholstery accomplishment to date:

This is what I started with

My naked char after taking it apart

Then I broke one of the legs off…not the best day

Leg reattached, springs tightened, starting to layer cotton and burlap

More cotton…

It started looking like a chair

Almost done…

The finished product in my bedroom, the perfect writing perch

8 thoughts on “Wing (Chair) Nut

  1. Awesome outcome and interesting perspective on the process
    I’m sure your mother has told you of your grandmother’s amazing woodworking projects, so at least some of it was destined.

    • Hi Ann, yes, in olden days the wings were thought to cut down on drafts and trap heat from a fireplace close to the chair’s occupant. These days I think people like them because they look nice!

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