This commissioned piece is a hand carved, ebonized, faintly gilded, and upholstered, wing back chair. It is upholstered in black leather and faux hide, over 18 hand tied springs. It has come to be known as “Bambi”.
As always, I welcome your comments AND critiques on this latest project.
This custom designed and fit chair is for a very petite lady who has always had problems with chairs fitting her. It is a “modified” wing back chair that is actually designed to be more of an office chair that will be used at a desk, rather than the normal read a book type of wing back chair.
We all understand that the design and upholstery may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it is exactly what the client wanted!
This is the chair that I carved the Ball and Claw feet for;
You can see the entire blog on carving these feet here;
The construction actually started with a full size prototype that was designed from a “client fitting” in a standard sized dining room chair and then we adjusted downward in size to fit her frame.
After we felt we had the correct size, I used the prototype to make the templates, and cut all the walnut parts. Before I started shaping and leg sculpting, I cut all the mortise and tenons in the leg blanks and aprons.
Next the leg blanks were cut on the band saw.
Only the front legs have B&C feet so the back legs were easy, but I cut one extra blank for the front in case something went wrong I would have an extra blank.
Before carving the B&C feet, I sculpted the upper legs. Notice the “extra meat” I left on the knee section for the carving elements that will be added here later.
The client’s husband is a very talented draftsman and they designed all the carving elements and submitted them to me in full scale drawings.
This made it easy to transfer the layout to the aprons.
Next I cut all the lower profiles on the rails and checked the dry fit.
I finished all the rest of the parts, cut and fit the arm rests, the wings, and cut all the mortise and tenons. Here is the final dry fit including all the upholsterer’s bars.
I cut all the fabric rabbets around the seat rails, and then made a simple platform to allow me to transfer the rabbets to the upper legs.
The arm riser and arm both curved on two planes and then the carving elements were transferred using carbon paper.
This is actually when I stopped and carved the Ball and Claw feet. Then I cut the outlines for the edge beading and outlined the carving elements using a Dremel and a Stewart Mac mini-base.
After a couple practice runs on each of the elements in some scrap pieces, I began to carve for real.
Here all four rails are completed except the end zones, where they will be blended into the legs after glue up.
Here you can see the B&C feet are completed, and the knees are done as well.
The arms and risers are done and the recess for the arm pads are routed.
I made a carrier jig to pass the curved sections of the legs over the stacked dado on the table saw. These dadoes will be where the stretchers attach to the legs.
Now the glue up has begun. I used West System’s Epoxy and this picture actually shows the third phase of glue up.
After both the sides were glued, I glued all the cross members and attached the two sides together.
The corner blocks were glued screwed and bolted, and the upholsterer’s bars were all glued in.
I made a two piece template to draw up and lay out the curved stretchers. A “keystone” like center board will lock the two halves in position.
Once the curves were laid out, I band sawed the template to make the bending form.
Using that template, I made the bending form and lined it with cork.
I resawed and glued up the bent laminates and glued them up in the form using Unibond 800. I made the one piece thick enough to split it into two stretchers.
After splitting and cutting to length, I dowelled the ends and then used a LN #66 beading tool to create the desired edge treatments on the stretchers.
The stretchers are glued in place and the center block is the “wedge” that ties it all together. The curved blocks were fit around the block and glued to hold the stretcher rosette.
I cut the oval to create the stretcher rosette and rout the recess that it will get inlaid into.
Using the template, I routed the outside shape of the rosette and then carved it in the vise. I used the band saw to “re-saw” the actual rosette out of the carving block.
Using the same the template, I routed the recess to inlay the rosette into the center of the stretchers.
I used Behlen’s SolarLux Jet Black dye to ebonize.
I used Sepp’s Mica antique gold for the gilding. A water based size allowed me to brush back to the very faint accent we were looking for.
The Chisel and Bit medallion was inlaid under the rosette.
Here is the frame ready to go to the upholsterer.
I stopped by Mr. Lanzetti’s shop for a picture of the spring work before he covered it in fabric. Both the seat and back have nine hand tied springs. This is a first class upholstery job.
Here are some close-ups of the finished chair and gilded carvings.
The knee carving.
The arm, riser and knuckles.
The clients are extremely happy, she said the chair is very comfortable, and she says she has never really had a chair that fits.
This has probably been the most extensive detailed work I have ever done. It has probably been the most challenging piece I’ve ever done, because I keep telling clients “Oh, no problem, I can do that!” and then I spend weeks wondering how the hell I’m going to do it. It has probably been the most educational piece I’ve ever made, because I have never done this much carving in relief.
Thanks for looking,
-- John, Chisel and Bit Custom Crafted Furniture, www.chiselandbit.com