Tag: Bespoke

Money For Nothing: Ray & Jay Moving, Making & upcycling ..

For any upholsterers and soft furnishers moving their studio to a new site, I feel for you. In my experience the process can be stressful, never-ending and exhausting! My Thanks to Anna F and Rowena Murphy for helping me with some logistics ( and some very heavy lifting!).

Imagine you have barely loaded in the last of your boxes, when an opportunity (not to mention a camera crew) arrives, to not only work with someone you’ve long since admired through social media, a certain Mr Jay Blades, but to do it on national television.

I felt exhausted after the move, but excited to finally work with a leading light in furniture up cycling. Jay was a new presenter on the TV Show Money for Nothing (BBC1 tv). He brought a couple of pieces for me to choose from.

I decided I get to grips with a sorry-looking (but full of character) Mid-20th century modern armchair.

With barely a pair of trestles and some hand tools unpacked, the “rip down” process revealed a piece which had already brought new life of its own: Among the creatures living inside the upholstery were a family of woodlice, and a particularly big green and plump garden Slug , which from the picture above, already made its presence felt by leaving a long , undulating slug trail all over the seat, inside back and outside arms and back.

An enjoyable bit of banter with Jay  and myself discussing fabric and design options unfortunately never made it into the final edit for that show. To be honest , after the studio move I was so mentally and physically tired , and the ideas I came up with for re-imagining the chair were in excess of the budget. Sometimes it’s better just to go with the flow too, as Jay supplied the fabrics and knowing the type of work he has produced in the past I had a definite idea of the type of look Jay was after. It was just up to me to put in the graft.

And so too the rip down. Having packed away my mask I had to improvise with “a knotted hanky” made from some scrap calico. I did indeed discover that this chair had plenty of life left inside it… some of it was still moving!!

Making sure no living creatures were harmed I carefully removed each of the woodlice and capturing them in a cup, went out to release them back into the wild (well, not so much wild, as the neighbouring public green/ recreational space across the road from the studio space. When it came to finding a slug , having isolated the chair from the rest of the furniture projects in the studio overnight, by the time I returned to finish off cleaning up the chair our little friend had managed to embed itself in the last bits of filling in the seat base, starved of moisture/ fluids it had dried out completely.

After:

After putting in some hours and with great help from my assistant Rowena Murphy (A big thanks!), the chair came together quite well. Covered in a light grey and Charcoal Wool, accented with baby blue piping in just the areas I thought Jay would appreciate. As a homage to the dead slug the seat base used a limey-green wool (not sure of the source, It felt like Kvadrat’s top quality Davina range)I did pull a few all-nighters to get the last bits ready and the morning of the final shoot/big reveal I felt little “ropey”to say the least, and perhaps a little bit touchy as well,  after I got a little miffed for a millisecond there at the way one of the crew spoke to my assistant, who arrived at the studio towards the end of filming, having also put in a shift to help me get this ready ). In the end it was a job I thought reasonably well done and my big thanks to Rowena , Anna F and the irrepressible Jay Blades and the crew for their enthusiasm. Unfortunately the chair did not sell within the filming schedule so I hope it eventually finds a great home.

A Traditional Transformation …

Before:

I absolutely love transforming antique furniture with clever colourful combinations of modern fabrics and colours. The process becomes all the more enjoyable when I get to employ traditional upholstery techniques, as was the case with these two antique cane-backed pieces of furniture on behalf of Nicola Holden Interiors, who had a client based in Kew who wished to use a combination of Robert Allen fabrics and plush velvet piping to give a contemporary twist to these two traditional furniture pieces.

After:

A lot of work went into rewebbing, springing, stitching,  stuffing and revitalising all the seat suspensions. Providing a robust foundation from which I made seat pads choosing a foam core/feather wrap, giving optimum comfort levels  for the bespoke seat cushions and new and fully filled duck & down feather back cushions.

Before:

After:

My many thanks to Anna F and Rowena Murphy for their assistance in helping me transform these pieces, and to Nicola & Nick Holden and their client for their patience as I enjoyed some memorable sunny days in the new studio space, listening to the sounds of “A Moon Shaped Pool”, the most recent album from Radiohead.

Two pieces of furniture

Afrotechnicolour Ottoman footstools

I’ve been making these ottoman stools for a while now since my first foray into creating patchwork furniture. I was super pleased that these pair were snapped up on Etsy.

After fitting different base cloth panels and sourcing new hairpin legs,

this pair represented my largest order-to-date, shipping them to New York.

My thanks to UPS for helping me complete my first shipment of my upholstered furniture to the United States.

Hopefully this will become the first of many!

 

When George met Ray: A chair for an Old House New Home.

Before:

In May 2016 , after completing the first 2 shows for the BBCTV show “Money for Nothing”, something wonderful happened: I was approached by another production company to produce work on a project for a Channel 4 TV show :

George Clarke’s ” Old House New Home.”

The Chair I was asked to re-upholster was an 19th Century Crapaud armchair. The chair turned up at my studio first, and then later George turned up with a film crew larger than life and full of beans.His enthusiasm was infectious.

My initial enthusiasm gave way little once we started to rip down the chair. Once stripped down to the bare frame I could see that this piece needed a complete overhaul as it was riddled with woodworm.

After:

To restore this piece, I enlisted the help of master woodwork/craftsman Tom Foy, who did an excellent job returning the stripped down frame with fresh new support and stuffing rails from which I began applying new suspension and fillings.

I decided  to apply a fully traditional approach to the suspension, fillings  and top cover , which became a point of pride for me as I wanted to produce a piece that would last many many years, using the finest traditional materials afforded in the budget.

During the process a nice travelling South African upholsterer visited my studio  lending me a hand. During the process and while under pressure to reupholster the works within the film scheduling,  he tried to convince me to use staples in certain areas which, perhaps would have speeded up the process, however, I so wanted to produce a fully  “traditional finish” I stuck to my guns.

It took a few all-nighters and even by the morning the piece was due to be collected to go up to Leicester I confess I still hadn’t fully finished stitching the final covers on!  However , with a little skill and a few tricks of the trade the chair did finally appear in the final edit and after filming I went up to Leicester and finished the chair in the clients home.

If you click on the link below you might still be able to watch the episode on Channel 4 on demand:

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/george-clarkes-old-house-new-home/on-demand/62968-004

Many thanks to Wendy Shorter Interiors, Rowena Murphy, Amazing Productions, Tom Foy, Anna Frisch, George Clarke

A splash of colour to chase away those winter blues..

After:

A parting shot of this winged Parker Knoll-style armchair, completely re-upholstered using modern techniques and materials,

is now hopefully brightening the cold dark and grey winter months at a lovely home in Ealing, West London.

Covered in #SvensktTenn #Joseffrank #Teheran

 

Before:

Every genuine Parker Knoll I have ever worked on carries a manufacturers stamp on the frame with a product number. This chair did not carry that stamp and so I had to treat it as a mid-century modern winged armchair in a style similar to a Parker Knoll.

As I had no idea of the true origins of the chair (make and model) I treated all the aged foams on the inside back and seat as not fit-for-purpose as I was uncertain as to their flame retardancy. Fitting new rubberised hair and medium grade foams, wrapped in polyester skin wadding was, legally, the best choice I thought I could make , ensuring the fillings didn’t exceed the shapes and thickness of the originally fitted foams.

The elastic webbing on the seat disintegrated upon removal so there was no sense trying to refit already damaged seat webs into a chair which needed new fillings and an expensive fabric top cover to be fitted. So the seat webs were upgraded to Pirelli webbing, fitted to prolong the suspension’s life within the chair.

As for the seat cushion itself;  the original filling, which in itself had degraded had no protection between the original foam and it’s top cover, this would have made the seat unusable within a short period of time of constant use. Simply recovering in the manor it came in would have worn out both the seat foam and the new linen top cover , as well as not necessarily conforming to the relevant health safety & fire regs. for domestic furniture.  I replaced the old foam with a medium soft grade foam, wrapped in white polyester skin wadding and stockinette, which protects the foam and the top cover from excessive wear through friction and ultra violet light (which degrades foam) while keeping all the fillings in place, having cut and shaped the foam and stitching its cover to the same size and shape as the original cushion .

My favourite aspects which I brought into the treatment and application of this wonderful fabric include the 7-colour topstitching on the seat cushion border, and the two velvet colour-coded cover buttons fitted into the inside back.

As the fabric itself was not compliant, the use of a wool safe flame retardant barriercloth was used between all of the fabric used in the chair and the fillings, additionally helping to prolong the life of the fabric from excessive wear.

My heartfelt thanks go out to Rowena Murphy who assisted me in the full re-upholstery of this statement piece.

Money for Nothing Project 3 “Galactic Octopus”© 2016 Dining room chairs

Ladies & Gentleman, may I introduce my second fabric design: “Galactic Octopus”©2016 .(No filter needed!)

This design is hopefully featuring in a new series of @monfornothing with the irrepressible @sarahmoorestuff , soon to appear on BBC TV (I’ll let you folks know in good time)

Many thanks to @rowenamurphyupholstery@digetex and @sparrow_tweets@minx_creative and my dear @jinksy70their amazing input and support.


Stay tuned folks as I’ll update this blog as I know more about the programme release dates ..  #moneyfornothing#Galacticoctopusfabric

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galactic-octopus-dining-room-chairs

A Fully Restored & Rocking Parker Knoll…

Before:

There was a time earlier this year when I found myself feeling blocked and overwhelmed  with the amount of projects I had taken on and I needed some help and business advice on how to manage the multiple projects I had taken on .
I sought help and advice through The AMUSF (Association of Master Upholsterers & Soft Furnishers) and I also looked at the Opportunity website, which linked me up to a Business counsellor, Dr Wayne Wright. and I took on a few assistants who helped me get my workload down to more manageable levels while at the same time helping me to increase my productivity.

Wayne entered my studio and immediately went to work setting me up with project management systems and helped me streamline my production of estimates and invoices.  As cashflow was really tight in return for his counselling and advice I offered to restore a chair for him in return for his help.

After:

It took little while as I had to get through a number of outstanding projects since the move to a new studio space, and it took a while to confirm a suitable fabric with my client, However with the fantastic help of Rowena Murphy, a recent graduate from Shoreditch Design Rooms and Anna F, we managed to get through a number of upholstery projects as well as turn out this fully restored piece just in time for Xmas eve, now recovered in  a smart woven wool from Eleanor Pritchard Studio (many thanks for taking my late order with a lightening quick turnaround!)

My thanks and congratulations for superb attention to detail (particularly the wood finishing) by Rowena.

I think my client was happy as he gave me a lovely bottle of Prosecco which , at the end of a particularly busy month (and a phenomenal year) ,which was enjoyed in timely fashion!

BBC Money for Nothing project series 2 episode 14: Leather & Linen Love

2016-05-29 13.28.56

The second of the 2 projects I completed for the 2nd BBC1 Television series of  “Money For Nothing“, was a 2-seater “department store” sofa, which was saved from the rubbish tip (and potential landfill) by presenter Sarah Moore.

What started out as a concept recover working with an idea Sarah had in mind , ended up becoming (almost) a complete rip-down to the frame,repair, refurbishments , reupholstery & new concept cover.

The amount of cardboard and cheap materials used in its construction brought out the sort of language not fit for public ears , and thankfully was edited out/ “left on the cutting room floor”.

Even though I had an image in my minds eye of the overall look Sarah & I wanted to achieve it took a while for me to “get into” the overall concept.

However , I persevered  and after “ripping down” removing every last piece of “rubbish” cardboard, replacing the fillings in the arms with good quality webbing, hessians, rubberised hair and new foams forming the arms. Coming up with the hand stitched leather and linen “elbow patch” arm panels  and the ” raw “finished edges  and leather piping and the use of a complimentary simulated suede super fabric to bring together the leather and linen elements, the rest of the sofas overall look “came into focus” fairly quickly.

Introducing nice little touches like the leather & linen scrolls on the sides of the back , and more patches finishing off the front borders’ at the corners above the rubbed down stained & beeswaxed  legs, and replacing the worn out polyester fibre filled seat cushions with

high-grade, shaped ,quality foam (wrapped)cores , while at the same time making sure every element of the cover conformed to strict UK health safety & fire regulations through the use of a Flame retardent barrier cloth behind the top cover brought a rustic, raw, country feel with a superb level of comfort that thankfully, a couple were so enamoured with once they had seen and sat on it, had purchased it at Sarah’s Barnyard sale and at a “blinking good price” for the quality and labour which went into it which maybe should of sold for much more but hey, I’m just grateful that it sold at a profit which was returned to the surprised and delighted previous owner.

Sarah-Moore-&-Ray-Clarke-MFN

Before:

Knoll-style 2-seater chair BBCTV MFN

After:

 

Leather&Linen sofa By Ray Clarke For Money for Nothing

 

My heartfelt thanks go out to everyone I roped into helping me complete this particular project: Anna Frisch, Joanna Maeva, All the production team at Friel Kean Films, The Cloth Shop, my upholstery warehousemen/suppliers, Wendy Shorter, Louise at Shoreditch Design Rooms, My Dearest Louise Jinks, Nina, Jan Etoile and all my dear friends who consoled, counselled and fed me tea, biscuits, words of encouragement and support along the way.

 

 

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Visions in Svenskt Tenn & Zoffany for Nicola Holden Designs..

May & June were spent refurbishing and recovering a 2-seater Henderson Russell Balzac-style sofa, which involved replacing a broken front beam (and refitting the serpentine spring suspension system), with a piece of reclaimed oak, found at a local recycled timber merchants just down the road from my studio, along with an armchair, in Zoffany’s Romany Grey , a vanity stool in clients own fabric (unknown) and a set of 4 Mid-20th Century modern dining room chairs in Svenskt Tenn “Celotocaulis” , designed by Josef frank in the 1920’s, and a late 20th century rocking chair in Svenskt Tenn “Elefant“, designed by Estrid Ericsson. All for a lovely home in Ealing, west London on behalf of Nicola Holden Designs.
Henderson-Russell-Balszac-Style-sofa-in-Zoffany-Romany-Grey

 

Henderson Russel Balszac-Style Chair

 

Henderson-Rusell-Balszac-Style-Sofa-In-Zoffany-Grey-Studio

 

Vanity Stool Nicola holden

 

Rocking chair Nicola Holden

 

Dining-room-chairs-in-Svenskt-tenn

Working Wonders for Woh& Co

Earlier this year I was commissioned to recover three different styles of chairs in House of Hackney‘s best selling

Palmeral fabric for super talented Mexican designer Valentina Gonzalez Wohlers 

Valentina came to my studio just with her signature V’s Rocker , a vintage Verco office chair ,which Valentina found in pieces dumped on the street near her studio,

and a Lloyd-Loom  style conservatory chair

It took a while for me to come up with all three pieces ( I had a lot on!) but I think

they all came out beautifully . It was a pleasure to see them, and Valentina on show and in use at her new studio at the Bow Arts open studio event in June.

Woh&CO-Rocking-Chair-in-House-of-House-of-Hackney-Palmeral-

Verco-Office-chair-in-HOH-Palmeral-

Woh&Co-Lloyd-Loom-Style-Chair

Atelier Ray Clarke Ltd T/A Ray Clarke Upholstery & Design Company registration number :12018355