Saturday, July 11, 2009

Reupholstering and Gilding

I was just sharing my experience with reupholstering a piece of furniture on the Victoria magazine forum when I tried to upload a photo of my project and it repeatedly failed. So, frustrated, I decided to blog about the piece instead and then let the VF readers link to my blog if they wished, to view the settee. Here's the history behind it: one day at work, probably 8 or 9 years ago now, I checked into my email and saw one had just come thru 3 minute ago from my boss's antiques gal. My boss had a bunch of stuff she was giving away and it was located on the 2nd floor landing of the privately owned office building I worked in. Without a word to anyone else (it was first-come, first-serve) I bounded up the stairs, three at a time, to the landing and practically landed on top of this gorgeous old settee with very Rococo lines. It once had a broken front leg which was repaired but very obvious. And on it's front was a horribly ugly purple tapestry with tiny white daisies. It was badly stained with white paint. On the back was a soft peach damask but was rotting and stained badly with a bright green paint.

Needless to say, I was given the settee as I was first to see it and put in a request for it.
So once home, I had to make it usable. I tried my hand at reupholstery - my first try. I found and bought the fabric I wanted - a denim-shade of blue and white stripe ticking stripe for the front and a solid blueberry blue damask for the back. I took photos of the piece before I began to remove the upholstery and as I removed each piece, I set it carefully aside, labeled, to use as a pattern for the new fabric. Under the purple fabric on the seat I found an old layer of modern batting and then what looked like horsehair. Hand made nails. I lifted the hair and saw underneath the original peach damask still intact.

Not wanting to destroy what I'd found, I decided to put a fresh layer of batting over the horsehair and then my fabric on top of that. When I can afford it, I'll have a pro redo it for me. Once the front was done, I did the back and then added braiding to the areas where I tacked the fabric unto the frame.
All in all, it looks acceptable and I have used it in my living room ever since.

Since the people way back then - I assuming 18th c - were so short, I needed to raise the seat a bit ) I am 6' tall and when I sat on the seat, my knees almost came up to my ears!) hahahaha
very graceful looking. So I bought a king sized bed pillow and sewed a blue toile ruffled and piped cover for it. It sits comfortably now and I'm happy with the piece except for one thing - I still want to gold gild the frame. So this is my "before" photo - before I add gilding. When I get it done, I'll repost the photo to show how it turned out. I have never water gilded so I will do it the lazy way and oil gild.