Some time ago I was visiting my local recycling center and spotted a chair I just LOVED the shape of. It was in a very poor condition with bright orange covering that was worn, cracked and torn but had beautiful, classic lines and great chrome legs. I bought it then had to borrow a screw driver to take it apart so it would fit it into the back of the car !
I stored it in my old shed waiting for some inspiration…
It’s such a great shape and when I sat in it …so comfortable! I’m short and it fit my body and height beautifully. I wanted to recover it in a hard wearing original eco print but knew it would be a difficult upholstery project because of the construction so just mulled it over for awhile.
The chair back and seat screwed apart from the legs so in theory it should have been easy to recover each piece and then reattach to the legs.
The problem was that the front and back of each curved piece seemed to have been covered seperately and then the two halves permanently attached together.
I thought about machine sewing two cover pieces and inserting a long invisible zipper on one of the curved edge but I was bothered by how difficult it would be to get a really good fit. In the end I came up with the idea of handstitching the two cover pieces together along the original join line so I could pin in place and adjust tension as I sewed.
I choose a hardwearing white denim fabric that I’d picked up a few months earlier in a sale. I was never going to wear white denim but it was a bargain and I can’t resist a bargain! I wanted a semi abstract look so chose both leaves and bark from various eucalyptus trees on our bushblock to eco print the fabric. Sometimes I print the fabric and then cut the pattern pieces but I wanted to have some control over the design on each piece so I removed the old worn cover and used that as a pattern to precut the denim before printing.
I recovered some of the foam to add extra padding and then placed te pieces over the chair sections pinning taut to the foam with dressmaking pins and hand turning under the edges so they sat neatly along the originall seam line…then I spent a LOT of hours handstitching the seams together with a 4 thread upholstery thread and a curved needle, adjusting as I sewed. I can’t count the number of times I pricked my fingers pushing and pulling the needle through the fabric which was quite resistant. I found it surprisingly satisfying for someone who has little patience.
Here’s the reupholstered chair after all that stitching was done and the seat and back reattached. I love the abstract print which I think really compliments it’s classic curves and chrome legs.
I was thinking it would be great to have a matching footstool to go with this chair but because of it’s shape it would have to be custom made. Coincidentally the same day I was thinking about this I saw an ad from someone wanting to buy a Slice footstool- and there was a photo of a chair just like mine . pre eco print cover.
I googled Slice chair and discovered that my chair was actually a replica of a very classic 1960 design by French designer, Pierre Paulin, inspired by orange peel. The original design has been faithfully reproduced and uses the same pressed beech forms padded with foam and then upholstered.
I’d been impressed with the classic look of it when I first spotted it and it was clear that it was well made when I started to take it apart so I shouldn’t be surprised that an original would set you back anything from $1000 -$4000 and a reproduction sits just under $500.
My classic replica Slice chair with hand stitched , ecoprinted upholstery will be available at my upcoming exhibition. If you’re in Hobart drop into the Sidespace Gallery in the Salamanca Arts Center, Salamanca Place 10-4 daily 19th to 30th May.
Now if only I could find a footstool!