February 8, 2013

projects at home

{in which I went mildly insane}


Yes yes! That is a rubber stamp! And yes, I carved it myself and printed it on fabric! I tackled this project a while ago over the holidays, as I tend to go a bit cabin-fever-esque and the crafty side of me comes pouring out during that festive season. Once a year I really need to recharge with a few materials at the opposite end of the spectrum from wood. Let's say... a glue gun, some fabric, maybe some paper, and a sewing machine. Crafty crafty. Switchin' it up. Plus, it's been a while since I did any makeovers or before-and-after funness and I was generally getting the urge to make something for myself --- for a change. So this time around I tackled a big guy: the biggest chair in my fleet whose current upholstery made me feel like a grandma, complete with cat scratched sides and all. Though I think we all know who's fault that is. Ahem.
























I really had nothing against this chair until I got it in my head that it could be improved. The fabric never bothered me much, it was simply an homage to it's era. Era being the late thirties, according to it's label hidden inside the upholstery. It certainly had great texture, I'll give it that.

Of course, I assumed this whole process would take about two days, but it took me three hours just to design and commit to the pattern I wanted for the fabric. So even before I started I was already behind. An omen to how the rest of the project was bound to go.

First order of business: remove the old fabric. Yeck. There's lots of dust, grime, and greasy, disintegrating horse hair in chairs from the thirties, I will tell you that. Second order of business: realize that you hate the weird, old, oddly greenish finish on the wood and decide that it looks horrid with the new linen you have spent good money on. Now you are in a pickle. You are left with a torn-apart, fabric-less, unusable chair and you must suddenly commit an extra ten hours at least to stripping off the old finish on top of everything else. Damn.

So I got an old chisel and went to work. You gotta do what you gotta do. Am I gonna half-ass this project when I'm already going so far as to print my own fabric? No.
























And whaddaya know, after hours of back-breaking scraping, a lot of sweeping, and some serious pain in my hand, underneath that green old mess appeared some beautiful maple. Raw wood! Love it. Okay okay, so I might be doing a teeny bit of half-assing as I'm only scraping off the minimum -- in the areas that are relatively easy to reach. I'm letting some of the old finish stay in a few places and I'm cool with that. Good enough.

Then on to printing! I used the old fabric scraps to trace and cut the new pieces and printed them all individually, as I wanted to control exactly where the pattern went on the chair. For lack of a better idea and the energy to hunt down that idea, I used black acrylic paint. I've got that stuff on my clothes before and it never washed out, so I figure I'm relatively safe on it lasting. But let's not say that I recommend doing the same, just in case I'm utterly wrong and it smudges all over someones ass in the next month. I'll keep you posted.



I ended up re-using the old upholstery nails pulled from the chair to tack the new fabric back on, and when evenly spaced I realized that I liked them exposed {originally the nails were covered over by a corded-trim, stapled on}. Nailing on all those nails took a good three hours, and pulling the fabric tight was a test of patience, but hey, now I fully understand why upholstery is so damn expensive. Next time you see an upholsterer, shake their hand for me would ya? What a job.

Anyway, after all this work, the chair ended up sitting, unfinished, in our living room for... forever.  Since late December. I did all the fun parts and then couldn't bring myself {nor find the time} to upholster the damn seat cushion. I have a lovely tendency to leave some projects half finished and let them stay that way for months {I still haven't grouted the kitchen tiles from like a year ago, and one of the bathroom doors only has one scratchy coat of paint on it. Yikes!}

But at least I know myself and I know that if I wait to post this until the chair is finished, it will be next year, and my poor neglected blog is already falling by the wayside.

So, still cushionless, here it is: TA-DAAAA!!!



































































I'm SO happy with it! And now we have a new goal in life: don't let the cat get his grimy little claws on my damn LINEN.


62 comments:

  1. GORGEOUS. CRAZY GORGEOUS. thanks for the tutorial and the endless inspiration, ariele!

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  2. Just gorgeous. I wish I had half your talent! I bought an ottoman over a year ago with the thought of attempting to fix it up... still sitting there with a sheepskin rug over it to cover the ugly. :)

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  3. it looks amazing & it comes as a perfect inspiration. thank you! have a wonderful weekend.

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  4. This is amazing! I love everything about it--very inspirational.

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  5. WOW. Just WOW. That is beyond awesome. Fantastic job!

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  6. Maravilloso!!!... quedó espectacular!

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  7. First off, let me just tell you how much I love all of your work. Incredibly inspiring. Then, this chair is gorgeous. Love the printing, it looks so professional!

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  8. Dang woman, that chair is so freakin pretty! Wish I could steal it from you. And yes, upholstering is a huge bitch of a project! I refinished/upholstered two chairs last summer and the same thing, took a ridiculously longer time to finish them than I originally planned. But so worth it!

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  9. I'm all too familiar with underestimating the time that projects take. But your end result is fantastic!

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  10. Beautiful! I'm the senior editor of American Craft magazine, and we'd love to do a story about you, Ariele. Could you get in touch as soon as possible? I'm jhanus - at - craftcouncil.org.

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  11. I'm glad you are "SO happy with it!" because it looks awesome! i love that you left some of the linen un-patterned. what a good call!

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  12. I don't know you personally, only read your blog but I gotta tell you: uh I'm obsessed with that. ocd for the win!

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  13. How on earth did you get those rubber stamp lines so even ?! The fabric is perfect! love the whole job.

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  14. Wow, this is SO freaking beautiful! My favourite chair makeover ever. Incredible!

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  15. so very lovely. what a labor of love!

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  16. ooh I'm in love, the chair itself is exquisite but with your printed fabric to die for. Love your work and the tangents your mind wanders off in is amazing. Happy holidays and hope your feel fresh and revived

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  17. OMG. ohmygodohmygod. it's beautiful, i want it. i might be drooling. i'll try to calm down and be rational. but. it's hard.

    get to that cushion! (says the fellow procrastinator....)

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  18. wow, i am so super impressed with this whole project--from stamping to the last nail. stellar work. i am wondering what type of ink you used? are you worried about it wearing/smearing off at all?

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  19. it is perfect! just perfect! hope the cat does notice this as well!

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  20. You did an awesome freak'n job with that chair! Love that you exposed some wood and left the tacks visible too. The block print is 'YOU' to the core. (I can relate to the need to change things up a bit and have supplies for some block printing just beckoning to me...) Love the before 'n after shots!! Peoples would pay big bucks for that Frenchy chair!!! WOOT Hopefully, kitty will keep the claws at bay... :)

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  21. woooww! I think you could pursue another career as an upholsterer and fabric designer! ;)

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  22. this is honestly something i would do.....IF i had the patience hahaha its amazing. great work, even if theres no cushion :)

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  23. wow this looks fantastic. the geometric print looks great in contrast to the carved organic leafy scrolls. well worth the effort. i hope you have time to finish it soon!

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  24. This is such a beautiful upgrade!

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  25. SUPER FANTASTIC!!! Your work is so great.

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  26. Your work is amazing, I hope one day I can buy one of your pieces. Now I'm going to stole your idea for a very nice chair I just got from my mom's house. Congrats I'm a big fan =)

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  27. Magnifique !
    Bravo, à l'artiste que vous êtes, à votre talent et votre goût parfait. BA (France)

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  28. What a fantastic job. The printed pattern is one you might have even done on a table top and becomes a signature look with your tables. Before you stripped off the paint the chair looked old, dated and frumpy. With your cleaned up wood and your printed fabric it now looks expensive and exclusive. Way to go!

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  29. just wonderful!!!! i have an old one i want to renew too!!!! xxx

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  30. Epic! I love the stamped print, it's absolutely perfect. I was beginning to fret, it's nice to see your work out there again, you're a huge inspiration for me. Keep it up!

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  31. Seriously? Could you be any more awesome? love the chair, love the pattern/fabric! Amazing job! If you have a moment, would you mind letting me know where that lovely sculpture (I think)on the mantle is from or by? Thanks

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  32. Wow! This looks fabulous! I love the block printing - what an excellent idea! And, I just so happen to have a chair in the exact opposite state as yours, I have upholstered the seat cushion, but the rest is patiently waiting for new garments :) Too funny.

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  33. so gorgeous!! just discovering your work. i love it!!

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  34. OMG, that is soooo good! I just love that you printed the fabric yourself with a stamp. It makes my own upholstery job (designing on Spoonflower and using an upholsterer) look pretty lame in comparison!

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  35. Wow! What a transformation! I had to laugh...if there is a cat in the house, there will be help on any and every project. While I think of myself as industrious, you have seriously outclassed me. Making the rubber stamp to stamp your own pattern before upholstering? I bow before greatness. *laughs*

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  36. I'm SO glad I'm not the only starts-and-doesn't-necessarily-finish-something-all-the-time kind of person. I think your chair is beautiful, cushion or no.

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  37. Wow Ariele, it turned out incredible! Well worth the hard work and effort - what a gem. I hope you're very proud!

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  38. Now, that is an improvement... finished or unfinished. Love, that you printed only part of the linen and that you left the nails visible.
    And yes, I am really big in leaving nearly finished projects alone, too...
    All the best, Bele

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  39. Freaking gorgeous! Nice work!

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  40. Freaking gorgeous! Nice work!

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  41. I absolutely adore what you do! The chair is beautiful and this (along with all your other DIYs) is really inspiring.

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  42. umm, your amazing, Im so scared to upholster --->I will conquer:)
    ;laura:

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  43. I jsut discovered your blog and creations! You are so talented and your fuzzy lover looks so much like one of my fuzzy lovers, Arthur. http://arthurandlancelot.blogspot.com/search?q=arthur

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  44. Wow, this is amazing!I recently found a fabulous old chair but the fabric is just horrid. Upholstery is so very expensive, but now I am thinking about trying myself!

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  45. So beautiful! Silkscreen fabric paint (speedball brand, I believe) works great for that kind of project. Toss the fabric into a dryer for heat-setting and it will be good to use!

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  46. Nice work! I use acrylic paint on furniture and even clothes sometimes, and you are correct. I will stay put once it is dried. :)
    I painted a sofa and chair last month. Yep. We must be from the same odd stock of folks who just go for it!

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  47. I found this an inspiring home DIY story - and your efforts were well worth it. I applaud you!

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  48. What a beautiful piece of furniture! I just love so much the final result. :)

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  49. let me know when you sell this thing. it might be the best chair i've ever seen. i see a lot of chairs!

    x Bianca

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  50. AnonymousJuly 02, 2013

    Wow... Beautiful!

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  51. AnonymousJuly 28, 2013

    Ready for a queen headboard whenever you are.

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  52. Fab ariele, simply fab (waiting for the spoon update I decided to stalk your blog instead) heheh

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  53. Wow, thats beautiful! Such a great transformation, i love that print :)

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  54. can't stop looking at your blog! help meeee~ *die in happiness*

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Thank you dearly for your comments! They always make my day.