Friday, February 27, 2009

Upholstering an Eames style Plycraft Lounge

I've wanted to own an original Eames lounge chair and ottoman for years and since they cost 3,500 new and even more used, I'll probably wish I had one for the rest of my life. 
A beat to hell knock off found on the side of the road is right up my alley. I began by taking the entire chair apart and removing all the old leather, buttons and piping (about 10,00 staples hold it all in place). It makes sense to save all the parts and pieces as they will be used for templates and provide a road map to put it all together again. I bought New high density foam at Katz in Philadelphia 857 N 5th street (much cheaper than in the fabric district).
I decided to use black vinyl because its cheap and won't be a problem if my cats decide to work on the chair when I'm done. A lounge chair takes about 6 yards. You need a zipper foot on the sewing machine to remake the piping and can find directions on You tube. 
I got a button dye at the fabric store for half inch buttons. you just cut one inch squares of vinyl and pop new buttons with a hammer. Shape the foam with a sharp serrated bread knife, put it in place and apply a layer of new batting. cover foam with your new vinyl shapes and use a staple gut to attach. Carefully locate the button placement and punch new holes threw the foam and attach to the backing board with heavy cord, staple on back.
 The arm pads are the tricky part and because I wanted to add a second bead of piping to the arm rests, I subbed the sewing out to my assistant Lila who makes hand made shoes. When they were finished they are fitted over new foam and stapled to the wood forms. I sourced the caped round based T nuts from a place in Chicago called EFC International (exact match to the originals) 
I sanded down the edges of the molded plywood chair backs and finished them with Antique gel stain to provide a visual contrast like on the new Herman miller chairs. New Plycraft chair parts such as; Swivel rockers and base can be found at swivel-chair-parts .com

Because I prefer a vintage look and I don't want the chair to look new, I simply oiled the wood forms to freshen it up and remove any dusty looking abrasions. Basically then I just screwed it all back together and I was done!

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

War Bird - Restoring the battalion Insignia on a vintage WW2 RAF Spitfire

On Jan 28 I got a call from my client to come down to his Aircraft hanger and help with something he needed fixed on one of his planes.  I walked into a hanger filled with beautiful vintage aircraft. I was told that the RAF spitfire had been recently restored and shipped from England and had one final flaw that needed fixing before she could be flown. "The 28th Squadron's  insignia thats painted on the side of my plane looks like the donkey from Shrek!"
Honored and more than a little nervous, I began by carefully removing Shrek. It was extremely important not to damage the original field of white as it was painted with a specialized epoxy that had been sprayed directly to the plane's aluminum fuselage. Repainting the white square would require masking out the entire aircraft and spraying it out again.

Historically these planes were embellished by "fly boys" who used whatever paint might have been laying around the air field. I decided to use "OneShot" sign painters enamel because its durable and slow drying enough to manipulate the image as I work. When painting with enamel you need to be careful not to brush the surface to much because it does start to skin over. Because the white field of paint is completely cured, I can "edit" my freshly painted lines to perfection using a clean brush loaded with pure mineral spirits and a rag. 

Utilizing this removal technique requires that you let each layer cure overnight so that the solvent does not eat into the previous layers of paint. Its time consuming but the finished work has super clean lines and smooth flat color fields. 
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