Wow! It’s been a few months since I last posted! I have had a really long break from working on any projects, but I am back! Last year I started with the daunting task of removing gobs of staples from a begere chair that I picked up at a local thrift store. It’s been sitting in the garage for almost a year now, which shows how quickly I became discouraged by the slow and painful (physically and mentally!) job of removing all the stubborn staples from it.
Last week I decided to tackle it again, and have managed, while sustaining several cuts and stabs to my fingers and hands, to remove most of the thousands of staples in this thing. If you ever attempt to reupholster something – especially any piece of furniture with a large amount of staples, I’d highly recommend buying a tack remover. I didn’t find this out until I’d already removed 90% of the staples, but I picked one up at the local hardware store for under $10 and it does make a HUGE difference. It is way easier than using a flat head screw driver. FYI: needle nose pliers are also a must!
I began by removing the panel of fabric from the back of the chair. I was able to preserve the original fabric enough to use it as a pattern when I’m ready to reupholster it. In some places I did have to use an exacto knife to cut around the fabric in order to remove it from staples that were just too embedded in the wood. It was really interesting (and a little scary) opening it up to see what was inside this chair. There were several layers of cotton batting, straw, burlap and webbing. I removed all of these. The straw (there are two different types) – which, in these old chairs, was originally used because not only was it readily available, but it was extremely cheap – is a serious fire hazard.
See how badly damaged the burlap webbing is? I bet your wondering what the pink and black material is on the chair. This was quite well glued on, but I managed to peel a little section away, only to discover that the material is covering a repair to a hairline crack in the wood. This means that this chair has been reupholstered before. I decided to leave the fabric, not only because it’s really stuck on there, but also because the the original crack does not need further repair. You may notice the crack below this fabric on both sides DOES need repair. This damage was most likely caused after the last reupholster job, and is a result of pressure on this part of the frame where there are two dowels – one on each side – the wood cracked around each dowel. This is nothing a whole wack of wood glue won’t fix!
The seat had three layers of cotton batting, followed by the two types of straw, a thick layer of felt like fabric, and burlap covering the coils. The nine coils were in good shape, with only two of the ties that had broken off. Once I had removed all of the straw, I gave all the webbing on the bottom (which is in good shape) a very thorough vacuum. I’ve now begun some of the repairs to the frame (gluing and clamping) and have starting painting. I’ve decided to layer on white milk paint with CeCe Caldwell’s Pittsburgh Grey.
Here is my deconstructed begere chair! It still needs some repair work to the frame, but it’s starting to come along.