Monday, 14 February 2022

THE RUSH SEAT

the rush seat

Evidence of rush seating turns up throughout history. The Vikings almost certainly used this method, and in mediaeval Italy simple rush-seated ladderback chairs were commonly used. Strangely, considering that the best rushes grow in England, there's no direct evidence of rush-seating in Britain before the 17th century, though it's quite likely it was used before this.

The pattern is simple, and must have been discovered numerous times by different people throughout history. It's simply a matter of creating a twisted rope of some local material, and wrapping it in a particular way around a wooden frame. You simply attach it to the inside of the frame, and work your way round, over and under, over and under, until you reach the centre of the seat. This produces a strong, but comfortable seat.

Above: stool seated with ready-twisted natural rush.

In the UK, the common bulrush, Scirpus lacustris, grows in the River Thames and various Norfolk rivers, and this is the plant used most of all in this country for rush seating. In the USA the leaves of the cattail plant are more usually used, and each country will have its favourite seating material. 

Anything that can be twisted into a rope can be used for this pattern. We often make seats in the rush pattern using seagrass, Danish cord, cotton cord and flax cord, and I've seen chairs made with brightly coloured nylon rope.

Above: a chair seat partly wrapped with rush cord. You can see the working end hanging loose in the middle. The next strand of rush will be tied to this, and the knot will be hidden inside as work progresses. We use plastic clamps to hold the rush in place as we work.

Above: two chairs from a set of four. The one on the left is still to be done, while the one on the right has been stripped down, cleaned and polished, and seated with paper rush.

You can find various materials suitable for the rush pattern on the e-commerce part of our website, SitUpon Seats Shop.

If you'd like us to reseat your chair, just send us an email to ally@situponseats.co.uk or give us a ring on 01900 813200.


Thursday, 25 March 2021

CANED CARVERS

 

I've just finished these two lovely old cane chairs. The backs were still in reasonable condition, but the seats were worn out and needed recaning. 

It's been a real pleasure of a job to do. The hardest part was matching the colour of the seats to the old, dark cane of the backs.

Chair cane is, of course, VERY glossy and hard on the front, and most wood treatments just tend to slide off, or, worse still, come off on people's clothes, so one has to be careful. When it does stay put, it tends to be very transparent and pale. But I think I've finally found the solution. 

I'd never tried water-based varnish on cane before, and didn't think it would stick, so I did numerous experiments with offcuts of ready-woven cane until I found the perfect combination. In the end I used a couple of layers of dark, spirit-based woodstain, plus, on top, another couple of layers of water-based, medium brown, gloss varnish. It's a good colour, and a nice looking finish. The customer was delighted!

The other interesting thing about these seats is that there are the same number of holes along the back and the front, although, like most chairs, the seats are trapeziod – i.e., wider at the front. It's much commoner to find there are more holes at the front, which leaves the seatweaver with the problem of making the sides neat, where extra strips of cane have to share holes with the usual horizontal ones. 

Having the same number back and front makes a much cleaner looking pattern. You hardly notice the slight distortion as the verticals splay out towards the front. I think it's a much more sensible solution, and if I were making my own chairs from scratch, I'd definitely do this.

 

Monday, 24 August 2020

WOODEN STOOL KITS ARE BACK!

        I know a lot of people have been missing our lovely wooden stool kits recently, which we couldn't get for a few months. At last, a new batch of wooden frames is on its way, so if you want one  – or some! – get your orders in, as they're sure to sell out soon.

    All these kits now come with our updated, new edition instruction books – either The SitUpon Stool Book, or The SitUpon Rush Pattern Book

    I'll be  updating the photos on the KITS PAGE as soon as the wooden frames arrive later this week.

    Please note, we are still awaiting new stock of cotton cord, but there's still a selection of nice colours if  you want a kit using this material. 


Monday, 17 August 2020

Seagrass stools

I've just been refurbishing a couple of nice solid stools. The one on the left has been done with a mixture of 2-tone seagrass and blue Danish cord, and the one on the right has 2-tone seagrass along with standard seagrass.  

The blue Danish cord is unique, I believe. I got a roll of it from the factory shortly before they closed down for good, and was reliably informed that this was an experimental colour which never went into production. It's a really nice shade of blue, and the stool reminds me of a clear sunny day in winter, with the bare branches of the trees against a blue sky.

I was very tempted to keep them for myself, but they are for sale!  Just £76 each, plus postage. Haven't got around to listing them on the site yet, but fire off an email if you're interested.


 

Wednesday, 22 April 2020

THE FINISHED OFFICE CHAIR

Here we are, all done!


I'm quite pleased with it. I know the front of the armrests is a little lacking in neatness - must try to improve my technique there, but if you can't learn on your own chairs, where can you?

Anyway, it's lovely to be sitting on something the right height for my short legs again (about 15½" from the floor to the seat.)

Tuesday, 21 April 2020

I don't usually do upholstery, but ...

... I thought this would be a good time to refurbish my poor, neglected old office chair.

When we first set up in business I bought this chair second hand, and replaced all the worn old fabric on it with nice, colourful, flowery stuff. It looked great! And  for me it's been the most comfortable office chair I've ever parked my bum on.

However, a number of years have passed since then, during which the chair has had a lot of use, and it's now in a really sorry state, as you can see below.


My comfy chair: BEFORE

I unscrewed the back, the armrests and the seat, and stripped off all the fabric and the horrid old foam. The back and seat are made from nice solid plywood, so it's a fairly straightforward job to replace the foam with new stuff.

The armrests, though, had seen better days. They're made from a type of moulded plastic with a bit of give in it, attached to a piece of plywood.  One is actually broken, with a piece missing at the front, and the other is all chewed up where some previous person had tried to staple a cover on it.  (I suspect this is actually the third time this chair has been recovered.)

So Steve, my brilliant partner-in-crime, has made new armrests for me, from plywood. He's even extracted the screw-in sockets to hold the bolts that fix the armrests to the arms, and fitted them into new holes in the new rests.

I've used two types of fabric for the new covers. The first is an orange, striped fabric from my stash; the other is some nice heavyweight denim from a pair of discarded jeans. I've sewn them together to produce a blue stripe down the middle of the seat and back.

Then it was just a matter of gluing the foam to the seat and back panels (using contact adhesive), covering said foam with tightly stretched lining fabric (held on with staples on other side) in order to produce a nice curved shape round the sides, and then the same again with the newly-made cover. So the back and seat look great! I'm almost tempted just to use it and forget about the armrests, but that would be cheating.

So the armrests are sitting outside on the picnic table at this very moment, waiting for the glue to dry before I put them through the same process of lining fabric, and then cover fabric. I should get them finished before bedtime! (Though there's another little problem that still needs solving, and it would help a lot if I could remember where I put that slab of Fimo about 10 years ago ... More on this later.)

I'm really looking forward to sitting on it again. The substitute chair upon which I currently sitting is not nearly as comfy.

Photos of the finished chair very soon!

And in the meantime, here's what I found underneath the seat. I guess Jim Oakes (with his nice handwriting) was quite proud of his work back in 1984. I wonder what he'd think if he knew one of the chairs he'd worked on was still in constant use all these years later, and being recovered for a 3rd time?





Wednesday, 8 April 2020

We're still here for you!

The coronavirus pandemic is a  horrible thing for us all to live through, but if we've got to stay at home, we might as well be doing something useful with our time.

Here at SitUpon Seats, we're lucky to run our business from home, so we're here for you right through it all - same phone number, same email address as before. We're not going anywhere, but we'd love to spend a bit of our time chatting to customers and helping you to decide which seatweaving project to undertake.

SAD OLD CHAIRS

Any sad old chairs lurking in your attic, or garage?

We have several in our own attic, and I'll probably get round to reseating some of them at long last. Usually too busy with our customers' chairs!

Sad old cane chair, awaiting some TLC.
Here's a nice old cane chair, ready to strip down and reseat. 
Have  you got one like this, waiting for a bit of TLC?  
One of our caning kits would do the job nicely! 
Just click the link!



Or maybe there's a rush chair needing renovation?

Sad rush chair.
Here's a couple in our attic, which would look much better at the kitchen table. 

Another sad rush chair.
Have you got one like this?
A hank of ready-twisted rush would do the job, or maybe some seagrass or Danish cord. We have the instruction books, and  we're here to give you the best advice.

Ready twisted rush

Seagrass

Danish cord