Tag: velvet

More Monkey Madness: Transforming a Wingback Chair

Before:

This wingback chair was originally donated to me by my good friend, super talented artist and fellow meditator Raksha Patel, which was found discarded on the site of Raksha’s old studio many years ago, at a time when she and a group of her fellow artist friends had to leave a block of studios they used in west London which were being converted into luxury apartments.

For a while there it took pride of place in my living room, giving me a place to sit after many long hours at the workbench. Although it arrived grubby and unloved, I knew If I held onto it long enough , eventually I would find the time to reupholster it.

Thanks to (repeated) episodes of Money for Nothing, a fan of the BBC show got in touch,  requesting a wingback chair to be recovered in my Monkey print, which they had seen on the show. I had other donor chairs but the shapes were not suitable so in the end I offered them the chair. Although I was alittle sad to see it go, I couldnt miss this perfect opportunity to transform the piece and, in my own fabric design.

The ” Rip down” process revealed a really shoddy build quality and a shocking use of really low grade upholstery materials, ripping out cardboard and plastic webbing , which I had ripped out and replaced with Strong elastic webbing , 120z hessian and rubberised hair behind, and to bolster the existing foams used to create the arm shapes. I went on to protect the existing foams in the back and seat suspensions, though the additional use of 12oz Hessian and Polyester Skin wadding, which was completely missing in the original chairs manufacture.

 

 

After:

Refurbished and transformed, the old chair did take a little longer to complete than I had originally hoped. However it was finally looking resplendant in my own signature Monkey print on moleskin Velvet, trimmed with Zoffany Velvet and complimented with Sanderson Brianza . With the new Beech wood Queen anne legs , customised in my own spirit-based grey woodstain.

 

My Many thanks go out to Stacey Lewis, a fellow upholsterer, who came in to assist me in getting this ready, as well as helping me work through many projects in my workshop (reducing my backlog). I also want to say a special thank you to Anna Frisch for her assistance , Heritage Upholstery Supplies for helping me source the new legs. I also wish to thank Anyvan.com for the swift, safe and affordable courier delivery up to Dunstable. My Customer had originally commisioned the piece for her sister, who  upon seeing it, said

“It was better than she thought,  loves the fabric used and was over the moon!”

 

 

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

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.

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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.

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

A Tickled Pink Parker Knoll Story …

Before:

Even though I explained that the cost of repair, refurbishment and recovery was comparable to Buying a completely brand new sofa my customer definitely wanted to have this Mid/late 20th Century modern Parker Knoll sofa restored to better than its former glory, as she loved the shape and size and practicality of it; with its fold down arms and fold away back allowing it to provide a great place to rest for her guests.

 After getting it into the studio, the rip-down revealed the extent of the complete seat failure. So I replaced all the broken serpentine springs, lashing them together with the still in good condition steel rods and clips (which took a little time and were a bugger to remove and replace!)

This time I also fitted and lashed hessian to the springs (something that wasn’t done originally), before fitting new wrapped seat foams. Refurbishing the arms with rubberised hair and foams and wrapping them in polyester before  cutting, stitching and fitting the new covers (backed with F/R barrier cloth to make the piece compliant) in a lovely pink velvet called “Peony” from Harlequin

My biggest challenge came with refitting the drop-arm mechanisms: Just when I needed to look at some old photos on my phone with just hours left before delivery,  I managed to loose a number of photo’s on my phone! Which were supposed to remind me of how to replace the drop-arm mechanisms in the arms. On that (very early) morning start I contacted some fellow upholsterers online. Shortly after a coffee I quietly and calmly thought the process through. By the time I did get some great responses back from the forum I had already worked out how to replace them! (Many thanks to those ladies and gentlemen for your input in any case) Nothing beats being able to figure things out for yourself !
Parker-Knoll-Just-collected-and-in-the-studio

After:

Before taking on this project I promised myself I wouldn’t ever work with “Shiny” or metallic Velvets  (They are usually not to my taste) ..However this velvet grew on me as I used it, the colour was lush and deep and for me had just the right level of lustre and by the end result It not only brightened up my studio, but brightened up my customers face and livened up her living room!

Ps: A big Thank you to my mate JJ for helping me deliver it: You’re a diamond!

Finished-and-delivered

 

 

Parker-Knoll-sofa-bed-conversion

 

 

 

 

The Battle of Chesterfield…

In spite of the many upholstery projects I have undertaken over the years I still feel relatively inexperienced and still enjoy the challenge taking on projects which teach me something new. Earlier this year I took on the task of recovering a Chesterfield-style sofa bed using my customers own fabric, a hard wearing velvet of unknown description which had to be backed with an flame retardant barrier cloth, in order for the piece to comply with the relevant UK Health, Safety and Fire Regs.

Although I have completed many deep-buttoned upholstery projects in the past, they mainly involved tackling the buttoning process on a “flat” shape. Even though this was a “modern” piece It still took me a while (and a good day with many thanks from Louise Boyland from Shoreditch Design Rooms )to help me build the confidence to button this shape and get to grips with Van dyking (a method of joining pieces of fabric or leather so that the joins wouldn’t be seen when buttoned).

Yes this project did take slightly longer than my estimated time, however it was my first piece of this type and certainly was worth doing, if not just for the experience but also being the first piece I was able to deliver using the New Nissan e-NV200 all-electric van which I loved using during a 2- day test drive.

My customer was so pleased to eventually have it finished  and delivered(the picture below was the only time I could get a half-decent shot of the piece still partially finished with the decorative nails “) She thanked me with an extra £50 tip.

 

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Getting off the Bench: Reworking a B&B Italia piece…

 

Before:

Before B&B Italia Charles Bench

I was asked by my customer to take this B&B Italia Italia “Charles” Bench , reduce it’s height by 1″and then deep-button (or “tuft” if you are reading this in the US) in a Sanderson Taormina velvet replacing the tired,

cat scratched and shrunk-in the-wash look of its original cover.

“Looks simple enough a task to me” you might say, until you realise upon removing the cover what is going on underneath; that the whole frame is made from

steel tubing and the high density foam sits directly on a bed of super strength jumbo elastic 3″ webbing.

Of the various ways that could secure the buttoning (sorry, saying “tufting” just doesn’t work for me!), I wanted to use a system that I felt would have the most inflexibility, by which I mean that over time, the pleats wouldn’t be tempted to move around over the foam and elasticated base, while still retaining the look and finish that would still respect the overall original design for Antonio Citterio for B&B Italia by Antonio Citterio

Processes I employed involved getting the whole foam cut down on a giant foam cutting bandsaw, removing the foam entirely from the frame, applying 120z hessian to the base of the foams, removing rubber strips from the tubular steel frame and introducing cut hardwood patterns to provide a tackable surface to secure the buttoning cord and cutting, and fitting extra wood strips as well as applying 1″ extra foam and sundries around the base of the bench which helped to “fill” the gap left between the legs and the base of the bench left from fitting the new cover.

As well as successfully “Van-Dyking” the Velvet as the overall bench width was wider then then width of the roll when taking into consideration the direction of the pile

After

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