|Project by Carey Mitchell||posted 01-11-2014 03:37 AM||1061 views||1 time favorited||3 comments|
This family heirloom supposedly dates to the mid to late 1800’s. It is called a “fainting couch” and these were popular since ladies wore corsets so tight, they fainted frequently. I read that it was considered stylish for ladies to faint, as a mark of delicacy. There was apparently a second use, but we won’t go there (see Wikipedia). One unusual feature of this couch is that it unfolds to make a bed – a bed for a very short person.
I decided to restore it as it was in rough shape. Removal of the fabrics (incredibly ugly colors) uncovered padding of shredded wood, which I had never seen, despite restoring many pieces. Amazingly, it still had some resilience. In the bottom, I found acorns and some hickory nuts. There was no evidence of any rodents chewing their way in, as the thin fabric underneath was intact, so it remains a mystery. There were no hickory or oak trees at my mothers/grandmothers house, and the only trees I recall at the great grandparents were maple and walnut, but since my memories only go back to the 50’s, who knows.
The finish had turned black, which is pretty much the norm. Underneath I found walnut. The rather primitive carving indicates it was probably not an very expensive piece. I removed the finish, gave it a light stain and a couple of coats of lacquer, and the result is fine. I replaced the discolored ceramic casters with brass.
We really don’t have a good place for this piece and it’s awkward in the foyer. We will be downsizing next year and my plan is to donate it for display in the Vann House, which is a local mansion built by the Cherokee chief, Joseph Vann in 1805. The great grandparents’ home was on a hill opposite the Vann house about 1/4 mile away, so it can, in a sense, go home.
Note the shop assistant making her appearance in photo #4 !