Wednesday 30 September 2009

"Wicker seat"

"I've got these wicker chairs and the seats have broken can you help?"

That's how the conversation usually starts followed by a series of questions from us - what does the seat look like, is it four triangles going into the middle or does it have thin flat strands woven in a kind of star pattern? Is it a basket weave or chequerboard squares? Is the material round or flat? etc.

The problem is that wicker is a word used to describe everything and anything woven and until we know for sure what sort of weaving it is, it's impossible to give a quotation or any advice. Thank goodness for e-mail and the internet! At least now photos can be sent so that you can see the "patient" and know for sure what you're dealing with.

It happened only yesterday. After the usual first few questions we were still confused. Flat material but in a kind of over/under pattern close together - pieces of wood nailed around the edge of the seat - rough funny shaped seat rails - French chairs......There was only one solution, "Can you send me a photo please?"

The photo arrived and eureka, problem solved! What was a French rush chair originally has at some time been reseated with thick lapping cane in a standard basketweave pattern, who'd have ever guessed? Now we know the work needed.

Friday 25 September 2009

Danish furniture everywhere

It had to happen, guess it must be the 40 year generation gap thing, but at last simple form, style and beauty is back in fashion with a vengeance! We started noticing it about 5-7 years ago, more 50's and 60's Danish furniture was turning up at the workshop for "revival" and re-seating, usually with apologies from the owner for it not really being "a true antique", (can you believe it!). Many pieces were the wonderfully thoughtful, sinuous designs of Hans Wegner chiefly made by Carl Hansen - true classics and a joy to restore. We love it, when you start with something that was always exceptional but now age worn and weary, then inevitably after a little TLC you end with something spectacular, it's truly satisfying work.

The trickle of Danish furniture has almost turned into a flood, but the best part about it is that the majority of people wanting to preserve these iconic pieces are getting younger, hooray! A whole new generation with an appreciation of good solid design and craftsmanship, perhaps we'll be kept busy for a while yet. I did finally finish the huge Danish table top yesterday, only the 8 foot sideboard to do now....and then the chairs.....

Thursday 24 September 2009

A synthetic future?

The first shipment of synthetic weaving materials arrived a few weeks ago during the busiest time of the show season. For some time now we have been looking at different materials that could meet the new demands for wearability, texture, good looks and weatherproof outdoor quality. Difficult! When you're used to using mainly natural materials, it is a culture shock at first to even contemplate using "man made" alternatives. However, the pressure was on from artists and creative weavers wanting to break into new territory, to push the boundaries.... and so in response to this pressure, the first batch of new generation materials arrived for assessment.

I quite like them - they're different to use insofar as they need no soaking or other  preparation and it takes time to adjust to their "feel" and texture, but there is no doubt, they have some very practical applications, they appear to be almost indestructable and yet recyclable! Imagine never having to worry about spilling blackcurrant juice or red wine on a chair seat again. And then there are all of the garden structure possibilities - yes, I think I might enjoy this experiment! For me personally they will never replace natural materials, but there are times when "man made" is more suitable, but maybe on metal or plastic frames not wooden.....

Monday 21 September 2009

The 100th birthday party

We've never been to a one hundredth birthday party before and I don't suppose it is likely to happen again in the near future - but on the 20th September Gran was 100 years old and a family party was held for her in Bournemouth on Saturday. The weather was the best it has been for months, a glorious blue sky with hours of bright, warm sunshine. All of the family gathered in the gardens of the rest home where she now lives - all 70 odd of us, children, grandchildren, great and great, great grandchildren ranging in age from about 2 to 94. Quite a sight! We didn't have to travel very far from home to the venue, but one part of the family had arrived from Cornwall, so we had the added bonus of seeing the whole extended family for the first time in years.

Gran was on good form, she was mentioned in the local news on Friday night, then on Saturday morning the Mayor presented her with a telegram from the Queen, a lovely buffet lunch was prepared by daughter Mary and grandaughters, then served by the great grandchildren. For the late afternoon a choir came to the home to perform in her honour. What a special day.

If I live that long, I hope that I will be as mobile, lucid and quick witted as Gran - she reminded me that I hadn't visited her recently - it hadn't gone unnoticed! I promised not to leave it so long next time.............What a lady, happy birthday.

Tuesday 15 September 2009

A ton of materials

Well it finally arrived, our top up order for cane materials.....all 900 kilos of it and we had to manhandle it from the lorry to the store shed. The van arrived at 9.30am and amazingly with the drivers help the whole lot was off the pallets and inside the store by 10.00am. No mean feat as the driver is no spring chicken either and we were all wielding cartons weighing upwards of 25 kilos. (Like the doctor said, it's unlikely we'll ever have osteoporosis).

But there was a price to pay next day - one bad back and a clicking hip! Serves us right really for thinking we're still about 18 years old, the last couple of days have seen both of us creeping around gingerly. Now I've got some catching up to do, the 8 foot long Danish table top won't polish itself, but I just couldn't muster up the energy to do it somehow.

Monday 7 September 2009

Our 13th Great Dorset Steam Fair!

Home again after a week of demonstrating chair seating in a field at the Great Dorset Steam Fair. The weather was horrible this year, high winds virtually every day with some torrential rain which created the ubiquitous chalky three inch deep "Blandford mud" for two days - exhausting stuff. Saturday was the busiest and most pleasant day, but even so it was cool for the time of the year - amazing, we're still wearing two or three layers of clothing. As ever it was great to meet up with our "crafty" friends, but tinged with sadness when we discovered that one of our number had died in the Spring. We made a toast in his honour, goodbye Don.

We also toasted Bernard the truck's health - I think we have finally solved the blowing gasket problem after four years and several sets of gaskets- well done to our friend Philip who will never let a problem get the better of him!