Tag: London

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.

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.

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!

BBC1 Money for Nothing Project 1: My monkey madness transformed this mid-century modern armchair

Hopefully if you’ve been practising upholstery and soft furnishings and successfully completing lots of good work for a fair amount of time eventually you will come across a project which not only lights your fire but opens up all kinds of possibilities that you previously either hadn’t considered or hadn’t had the chance to do.

In January this year , I was given just that sort of opportunity; to not only provide upholstery, but given (almost) free reign to explore (and hopefully exceed) any limits of my creative expression.

Enter Friel-Kean Films, producers of the BBC TV SHOW “Money For Nothing” , ever growing its audience base, it is becoming one of the most popular shows on the BBC.

For those who have not seen it click on the link Here :

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The premise of the show is simple:

Presenter, upcycler, entrepreneur and furniture and antiques enthusiast Sarah Moore goes up and down this green and pleasant land saving industrial and household waste thrown away at refuse and recycling centres by the general public, who don’t see the potential and value in the things that they throw away, like some sort of frenzied furniture Womble” (older readers may get the reference).

Then in each episode Sarah gives items she’s found to featured artisans and craftspeople, paying them to transform the items into hopefully beautiful, desirable, functional, saleable finished pieces.

Sarah then takes the items and resells them , hopefully at a profit, with which she then visits the previous owners of theitems, handing them cash to surprised and sometimes bemused faces, at the end of each successful project, hopefully demonstrating that in the right hands, It is quite possible to turn trash into cash.

I was recommended to the producers of the show by Amy Cawson of ” Florrie & Bill” fame , and by the irrepressible Jay Blades, of Jay & Co

(Thanks for that you lovely people!)

 Sarah arrived at my studio with 3 different projects. one of which I had to turn away due to the timescales involved. The first project I was itching to have a crack at was this Mid-20th century modern armchair I surmised from the materials used and its construction. Despite no clear manufacturers stamp I felt it had a lot of character.

Antique winged armchair MFN BBCTV

AfterThe Monkey ChairThroughout the 10 years+ I have practised upholstery and soft furnishings, I always harboured the ambition to design and produce my own furnishing fabrics.
This particular project gave me the impetus to finally bring (and update) my previous experiences in printed textile design back into my current creative expression through upholstery and soft furnishings.

2014-10-28 16.54.21

It was a magical day when I finally received my first digitally printed roll of fabric. I have been very fortunate to have been able to get access to and usefurnishing fabrics from some of the greatest companies in Europe and from around the world.

Nothing beats being able to produce your own designs, and then getting the ability to apply your fabric or design to a piece or pieces of furniture,

which, although the chair didn’t sell in time for the 1st airing of that episode, literally sold the very next day after it aired, to a lovely family who saw the show and my work, not only buying the chair but also a set of bespoke scatter cushions to compliment.

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This experience continues to inspire me to not only come up with more designs but educates me in the process of marketing and selling the fabric,which for me is a continuous learning process.

Monkey Chair by Ray Clarke for BBC Money for Nothing

 

 

Back of Monkey chair

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Like all shows, there have been some critics. Feedback I’ve read on social media about some of the items made on and for the show have focussed on the prices mentioned as not being a true reflection of the type of work involved, or comments on the look and quality of finish of some items. To those critics I say, it’s a TV show which in my experience has been mostly, and I hope continues to be, extremely positive.

Just doing this type of work gets great exposure. Plus the number and types of enquiries it generates, even though at times it may feel overwhelming (you have to fit it into what you’ve got currently on and around the workbench), well, that’s priceless.

If you are an upholsterer or designer-maker who loves what they do, when an opportunity like this comes to you, well, you’ve got to go for it!!

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.

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

Yet another Afro-technicolour bundle of (etsy) joy …

This completely bespoke made-from-scratch ottoman stool went out to an etsy enthusiast covered in a selection of african wax block patchwork scraps donated with many thanks from YouMeWe blended with a selection of luxurious european furnishing fabrics , which has now found a home in Ipswich. If you’d like to own any of these pieces to brighten up your home or workspace, check out my etsy page ( https://www.etsy.com/shop/RayClarkeUpholstery) or send me an email with your preferences

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From Tangerine to Aquamarine Wingback Dreams…

Fresh-off-the-bench-Finished-Cathy-Green-Chair

Before (below): 

This reproduction Edwardian-style wingback had seen better days: The right hand facing wing had begun to “flap” around, the seat cushion contained Feathers which had totally degraded and it’s arms has seen better days

Wingback-Chair-before-Cathy-Green

I had brought a selection of my finest velvet ranges to my clients home, where I presented them to choose from I looked over their chair to check its condition. Once a fabric had been agreed  (An FR version of a Kobe “Real” velvet, after some discussions between myself and my client, it was decided to go for some special decorative nails as opposed to the original piping detail,  to provide a different finishing detail to the front arm scrolls. I also instead of using the fillings from the original seat cushion decided to discard and make up a completely new foam & feather combination bespoke seat cushion.

The original arm fillings were removed and also discarded having lost their density and “return”, giving me the opportunity to fit hessian in front of the jumbo elastic webbing. Replacing the old crumbly fillings with upgraded rubberised hair and foams .

 

 

 

 

 

 

After:Fresh-off-the-bench-Finished-Cathy-Green-Chair

 

 I couldn’t get this piece ready in time for xmas, for which I was extremely apologetic. However just before new year this piece was collected and my clients reaction said it looked fab and  “Soooo comfortable”. A dream realised in aquamarine. Many thanks to Richard & Cathy Green for your patience and custom.

 

 

 

Tangerine Dream Nursing Chair Rescue

Jo-and-Myfanwys-ChairBefore ( see below):

In November 2015 this reproduction nursing chair arrived at my studio in a hopeless state: A pet-scratched, threadbare cover basically keeping the frame in some sort of shape, despite having nearly every single dowel joint snapped. Completely eroded foams . A battered sheet of fibreboard formed what was left of the seat.

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To save this piece I had to completely remove and junk all the old covers and fillings (as well as the fibreboard seat)and dismantle and clean what was left of the frame before reassembly using new dowells, gluing and screwing the frame back into shape.

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 After reconstructing the frame I decided to upgrade the seat from the rubbish fibreboard and foam originally fitted, applying lashed serpentine springs and hessian to form the base suspension before fitting a first stuffing layer of rubberised hair and a second layer of the appropriate grade foam . for the back I used elasticated webbing and applied the same fillings as the seat.

Finally making sure the final top cover, a deep rich tangerine velvet from Kobe’s  “Real” range, was made compliant through the use of a flame retardant barrier cloth bonded to the cover before fitting and hand- stitching to the frame.

After:

I decided not to go with the original buttoning pattern as my customer’s wanted to use a different colour for the velvet button details. (perhaps, like the original , if the buttons were made using the same colour as the fabric then I would of gone with the same buttoning formation). Finally cleaning/polishing up the legs with a little beeswax.
This tangerine dream did much to brighten its owners faces when it was unveiled at my studio upon collection.
Many thanks to Myfanwy Taylor and Joanna Maeva for their custom x

Jo-and-Myfanwys-Chair

Thank you Furniture Village Magazine!

A big thank you to Furniture Village for the article in this months online magazine.

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Read the article here

http://www.furniturevillage.co.uk/magazine/Inspiration-And-Trends/Ray-Clarke-So-You-Want-My-Job.aspx?utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook&utm_campaign=pagelink&utm_content=18THNOV&bmap=177137-13764-0

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