Sunday 29 January 2012

A weekend with Gio Ponti

Well not quite...but a weekend with chairs designed by Gio Ponti way back in 1957 that are still in production today, see the website here.

These chairs are known as the "superleggera" or "super light" design - and super light is no exaggeration believe me! They are truly amazing, you can lift them with one finger, the ash frame is so slender.... they're a kind of delicate but strong ballerina of the chair world.

My job as ever is to replace the seats, not an easy task, but I thought my fellow chair seat weavers out there might appreciate a photo "anatomy" of the process needed to replace these awkward little blighters! It made me smile when I read on the Cassina web page that the seats are "india cane", well I don't know about India but they're definitely cane! So firstly here's the seat before work started.

 Notice the "knotted" edge around the frame and the rush style covering of the corners, so more investigation needed....

Wow that's neatly done, so where are all of the cane ends?

Ha, neatly tucked into the reed cane liner and then overwrapped by the next cane along. So what about those rush type corners?

Oooh, clever! So having taken it all apart guess what I was doing for the rest of the weekend? Well, it makes a change from rushing chapel chairs!

Thursday 19 January 2012

Nearly famous....!

Well......not quite, but our materials may be near to other people who are famous!

Every now and again we'll have one of those really interesting phone calls, a designer, museum or theatre company wanting to create something a bit different using our materials. In the past we've supplied advice and all sorts of materials to be used by the West End and Covent Garden Theatres, snazzy London restaurants and even on the catwalk. We once supplied some basketmaking cane for a scene in "The Rise and Fall of Reginald Perrin" TV programme, (the poor long suffering wife of Reggie was trying to save money by restoring some chairs in one episode.)

Well today it was a film company that phoned, but not just any film company, the makers of the new Bond movie. Yes, our materials will be used on the set of the new movie. Oh well I thought it was exciting anyway........ at least it's a kind of brush with fame - about the closest we'll ever get, (thankfully)!

So a word of the week for a change.

Deluded - To mislead the mind or judgment, to mock or frustrate hopes and aims.

Just about sums it up I think!

Monday 16 January 2012

D'ya know what it is yet?

Haven't had much "spare" time this week, that might be because we've finished eight of the chapel chairs. So this weekend meant catch up time on some long overdue projects. Here are some component parts of the latest thing...any guesses?

Okay here's a clue, all of the pieces glued together.

I feel very guilty admitting it, but we were asked to make this over a year ago. I found all of the component parts eventually and finally got around to forming the extra mortices today, all it needs now is two seat tops. Any closer to guessing yet?

Well it's a dogs step stool! We've made it to order especially for one of our customers elderly Daschunds, (stay with me) the dog is too old to jump up onto the bed now, so the idea is he can use this as a staircase.

The things we do.

Monday 9 January 2012

A boot sale find

We often wander around the boot sale part of our local market at the weekend but rarely find anything to buy, after all we are trying to clear the house out, not add yet more!!

But this weekend I did find a little something.


It's a hand turned shallow dish made from mahogany. I brought it home, cleaned it up and then drilled a series of holes around the lip so that I could use it as a basket base. Using some left over bits of weaving material, this is the result.

A pot holder full of Spring colours. I bought a second bigger platter too, but there wasn't enough time left on Sunday to work on that one because we had the extra sad task of dismantling poor Sybil's outdoor run - it was too painful to see it every day, we found ourselves looking for her inside.....

Friday 6 January 2012

RIP Sybil

She was nearly 20 years old, but you can never be prepared for their final moments can you?

Here she was, a dainty little blue cat curled up in a fruit box with her son Rodney. The end of an era,  I was there when she was born and she was the last of the line.

She left us today. Bye Sybs.

Thursday 5 January 2012

Mouldy bottoms!

We know what we'll be doing for the next three months......... It all started a little while ago with a phone call from the National Trust. "We have a problem with rush seats on the chairs in a chapel, it's so damp that the rush gets mouldy and mildewy then it goes soft and the coils start to break....any idea what we can do?"

That's the trouble with natural materials and especially rush and seagrass seats, when they get damp and stay damp, mould and mildew have a field day feeding off the coiled rushes and the internal packing. It doesn't take long to happen and there's no quick fix. The last thing you need is for a member of the congregation to sit on a mouldy old chair seat in their "Sunday best".

We suggested using paper fibre instead, it looks the same as rush but it won't hold the moisture in the same way and is much less likely to succumb to mould. So a decision was made, yes 40 chair seats would be replaced with paper.

The van turned up today full of little chapel chairs - all 54 of them.

Yes, I think that will keep me out of trouble for a while, well until Easter at least.

Monday 2 January 2012

Happy New Year

Happy New Year everyone. It's back to work tomorrow for most I guess, but it's been good to take some time off and relax, hope you've had the chance to do the same.  I strained my back on Christmas Eve - very stupid of me, in perfect time for the holiday - and it's only just starting to get better. My other half and youngest son both managed to catch colds this week and then two days ago I developed some kind of eye infection that made me look like I'd fought 9 rounds with Muhammed Ali!

Ho hum.

We've got to be fit and feisty by tomorrow though, there are 40 rush chairs arriving for restoration on the 5th and not enough space to store them all so we're going to have to do a bit of serious reorganisation. The chairs are for a very special place, (more about that later) and they have to be completed by Easter, so needless to say we're going to be busy - back to work with a vengeance!

No New Year resolutions here, other than the wish to remain healthy. With the Olympics and the royal jubilee this year, it's already promising to be a happier time. I wonder whether we'll get a decent summer....or is that wishing for too much!