Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Chair disasters

Of all miniature furniture, chairs are my least favourite. I am simply not good at chairs. I bought several sets of chairs for my early project because I didn't believe I would ever be able to make them myself. I did change the fabric.

That said, I made a very clumsy kitchen chair within the first month after I started miniature-making, when I had neither proper tools nor skills. I used lolly sticks, toothpicks and chopsticks.

Like many of my earliest pieces, this one has sentimental value, so I have kept it, and it is now in my van Hoogstraten room box.

Of course I made champagne chairs at one point. 

I was quite pleased with my cabriole leg chairs, and perhaps because they somehow turned out well I thought it would always go well. Hubris. From there, it went downward all the way. The lyre-back chairs were a pain and didn't look nice. I have problems with tucking in and gluing fabric, it just never looks neat. I showed two more chairs in a recent post that I am totally unhappy with. I will work further on them soon.

Meanwhile, I wanted to make a slightly unusual chair, a slat back chair.


My miniature friends had warned me that it was tricky, and it isn't that I hadn't listened, but it felt it was time to tackle this kit.


It looked very straightforward. I used antique pine stain, and when it was dry, I enlarged the holes just a tiny bit with a pin vise and sanded the square pegs of the slats to make them round. Yes, you got it right, square pegs in round holes. Precision work.


The frame was relatively easy to assemble, although there were three different spreaders, with half a millimetre difference, I am still not sure I did it correctly. The layout sheet wasn't too helpful when the scale is so small. The spreaders did come off all the time, but it was just a matter of letting the glue set a little on one side before inserting the other, so I must admit that some bad language went through my mind if not my mouth.

The supplied cord was very white and new, so I dyed it with tea. My miniature group supported me whole-heartedly. I left the frame to dry overnight, anticipating tons of problems the next day.

But not THAT many problems.

To begin with, the cord was very, very long, and you cannot work with such a long thread as it will get tangled all the time. I cut a manageable length and started threading it according to instructions, praising myself for my patience. When I ran out of cord, I tied a neat knot on the bottom side that wouldn't be visible. Several times I had to go back, taking off the needle, upon which the cord kept untwining. But I persisted.


Yet deep inside I knew it was too good to be true. And it was.

My whole attention was on the cord, and I didn't notice when a spreader came off. I was almost finished, although I saw that something wasn't quite right with the pattern. I had very carefully sewn one of the spreaders inside the seat. As I tried to glue it back, several other spreaders came off.


Now what? It took me a couple of hours to get that far. I could try to mend the frame without ripping the seat - in the picture you see that I caught it with another thread. Or I could rip up the seat, re-glue the frame and start all over again. Usually, when things go epically wrong with a project, I put it aside for a while. I did something else that day and looked again the day after. I am sorry to admit that I gave up. The frame was pretty, and I knew that I would hate this chair unless I could think of another, easier way to finish it. I cut up the failed seat ruthlessly and threw it away, which is very unlike me. Luckily, I remembered that I has a piece of embroidery canvas that I had bought many years ago in a hobby shop and never used. I tested with a paper template and then made the seat, tucking flaps beneath. 


Isn't it lovely? I wish I had more of this kit. 


  1. That is pretty! I love the stain.

    Totally with you on chairs. Upholstered ones are okay but wood chairs? Tear my hair out and scandalize my cats with the bad language, all the while my husband saying 'and this is your fun hobby?'.

    No thank you!