Saturday, 16 July 2022

An unusual long stool

This customer had a long footstool, of the same construction as a typical seagrass stool, except that it's three times as long. At some point in its history, a previous owner had had it upholstered with a padded seat, and elaborate piping round the edges. It must have looked amazing when it was newly done, but the fabric was worn and dirty, and urgently needed a new lease of life. Mrs S just wanted it looking decent again so that she could put her feet up on it.
(Above) The stool prior to starting work on it

I suggested that it might be better to re-do it with a woven seat, which would be better suited to that sort of frame, and she agreed with me. 

I started stripping off the upholstery, which took AGES, as there were so many nails embedded in the hard wood of the frame. I also discovered that the side bars of the frame were badly warped. It seems the weight of the upholstery, and many years of it being sat on, had caused the side bars to twist. A stool of that length really needs a stabilising bar of wood in the middle, to keep it straight, but such a thing was missing here. You can see the result quite clearly in the photo below.


I removed the rest of the webbing and nails, and had a look at the side bars, which were impossible to unbend. Mrs S thought it would be perfectly fine just to leave them warped, if it was possible to weave a pattern over them, so I just twisted them back,  glued them in place, and added a stabilising bar in the centre.

Mrs S rather bravely left it to me to decide on the pattern. She wanted mainly darker colours that wouldn't show the dirt (as it's used as a footstool) so I picked out some nice warm dark colours of cotton cord, with a flash of yellow to make things stand out. I started off with a pattern I'd designed on paper, but soon realised it was too elaborate and ended up just making it up as I went along. 

In the photo on the left you can see the warp strands in place, and the start of the weaving of the weft strands. The stabilising bar across the centre is visible at the bottom of the photo. Notice the plastic clamp, holding the cord in position, top right. These things are invaluable for seatweavers!

In order to keep the pattern symmetrical, I worked it from both ends at once, working gradually towards the middle. It was a lot of fun to do, with a few head-scratching moments!



You can buy this type of cotton cord from our website  HERE. The colours used were Burgundy, Dark Brown, Moss Green, and yellow.

You can buy the SitUpon Seats Stool Book HERE. This particular pattern isn't in it, but a number of other patterns are, and if anyone particularly wants this pattern I'll draw it up and add it to the book. (All our instruction books are written, illustrated, printed and bound by me, Ally McGurk, at SitUpon Seats. They are not currently available from bookshops.)





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.