Friday, September 01, 2006
No Painting Today.
Today I did something I've been thinking about for a long time. We have two old ladder-back chairs that used to have cane seats in them. They've been sitting around without seats for three or four years now. I remember Susan telling me once that her grandma'd had seats like them with cowhide instead of cane seats, and I always wanted to try stretching a nice piece of leather on a chair. I've been looking for a suitable hide for a long time now, and the other day I found a beautiful calfskin rug in a second-hand store. I went in and out a couple times, working the price down, but I would have paid what they asked for it in the first place, because it's exactly what I wanted. The leather is nicely worn from being walked on for who knows how many years, but it's as soft as chamois. I cut a paper pattern in the shape of the seats, which are roughly square, and then extended each side with a long tab. I folded each tab over on itself and sewed it like that, and then bought some rawhide strips.
I cut little holes in the doubled-over tabs. Then I put the cover on the chair with the tabs hanging underneath the seat. I threaded the rawhide through the holes I'd cut so that, beneath the seat, the front tab was laced to the rear one, and the two sides were laced to each other. I'd soaked the rawhide before I laced it. As it dries, it'll shrink, which will tighten up the leather seat. Before I tied the laces I used a pair of long clamps to draw the tabs together and make the laces tight enough to vibrate when I plucked them.
The first seat is done, and drying over a heating duct tonight. I can't wait to see how well it tightens up when the laces shrink. Even without the laces drying out all the way the seat is stretched nice and tight and smooth. I'm pretty pleased with it.