Suparest were an English furniture manufacturer back in the 1930’s. They made some interesting pieces usually with some form of bentwood in the design. I found one of their chairs and upholstered it for a friend a few years ago – see previous blog ‘Silk stockings & Bed Springs’. Last summer, I came across another rather special one…
As you can see it was in a bit of a sad state, covered in grim red vinyl and the beautiful wood had been covered up with brown paint. However, its potential was singing to me so I bought it. You know I like a challenge…
Bit of background
This chair was made around 1930 and is a great example of Art Deco furniture. Its two bow-shaped, beech timbers are steam bent all the way round to form the legs as well as the arms and backrest – a very clever design. The two sides are connected by crossbars and the upholstered spring unit is hung on the frame.
Back to the frame
I stripped back the upholstery and took the frame to be dipped to remove the brown paint. Even naked it looked gorgeous, so we included it in our ‘Beneath The Surface’ exhibition to illustrate the beauty of the inside of chairs.
The original spring unit was beautiful but quite saggy so I sent it off to Wade Springs in Nottingham where they cleverly ‘reverse engineered’ me a new one! Then I set about rebuilding it. As 90% of the upholstery is attached to the metal spring unit, each layer has to be hand sewn into place… At this point I discovered that new spring units are quite sharp – youch!
new spring unit in place
first layer complete
hand sewing the hessian onto the spring unit
Then onto the padding, first the coir, then a layer of rubberised hair which was sewn to the spring unit again (forgot to take a photo of that stage!) and then a layer of cotton wool felt.
cotton wool felt
Any chair with an inverted curve needs a fabric that has some stretch to it, so a wool felt seemed like the perfect option. This fabric is a hard wearing wool felt by Camira that comes in great range of colours. I’ve used it to create a hand tailored cover – basically you cut and fit fabric together with pins, take it back off the chair frame, sew it together and then fit it back on. It may sound simple, but believe me its not…
cutting the tailored cover
This top fabric layer and the back all had to be sewn in place again.
sewing on hessian to the outside back
now for the fabric back..
And here she is all finished! An unusual Art Deco chair fully restored to her former glory in some smart contemporary fabric. This chair was sold to some lovely people this May as part of the Brighton Artists Open Houses