Published at Friday, March 30th, 2018 - 20:10:22 PM. Balloon Chair. By Ernest Barnier.
Chairs seem to be one of the least likely types of furniture to survive, when you hear stories like, "one chair broke and granny threw it down the well years ago", or "when the leg broke we used it for fire wood". When it comes to restoring a chair, people object to the price, saying "it's too much", or "it's not worth it!" There must have been more chairs manufactured than any other item, as they were usually purchased in at least a set of four, yet few examples survive. Quite often, old chairs had very harsh repairs carried out on them: large screws for strengthening joints; steel straps nailed to the legs and side rails, often on the polished faces; large wood blocks glued in or large hunks of wood nailed on for extra strength; and the odd nail that often looks more like a railway spike - all of this plus a good slurp of glue just for luck. A lot of this type of damage, under many layers of upholstery, hides a surprise for the restorer. Trying to get a chair like this apart, repaired and re-glued is a nightmare. Very few chairs have escaped without some type of makeshift or bandaid repair. Full sets of chairs are scarce, and one must accept the concept of a harlequin set or a mixture of complementing chairs to fulfill one's chair requirements.
A point often forgotten when purchasing chairs is restoration, as few surviving examples would not have been repaired at some stage. When purchasing chairs, it is not unusual to spend more money with a good restorer than you actually paid for the article itself. The repair of a chair, the most used object in the home, is expensive when compared to, say, a chest of drawers. If restored properly, a chest of drawers may need serious attention only once every 50 or so years, where a set of chairs may need attention on a frequent basis. Sets of chairs that are let go for generations often need a lot of attention, even to a point of needing to be steamed apart and re-glued which takes time and patience. A single chair often consumes more time than for a dining table. Even now in our local area, it is not easy to find a competent tradesman to repair sets of chairs, as they all look upon them as 'charity' jobs.
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