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