Vanity and chairs

This one is gonna be picture heavy because I don’t feel like doing cuts, not after the big effort of typing this almost single-handedly :P

Thursday, being holiday, I kept myself busy re-polishing the vanity I got a few months ago off Ebay.

I got a product for removing old wax (some sort of very volatile solvent that made the whole house stink) and gave a couple of layers of medium coloured oak wax.

And the some mattine varnish, which seems a liquid mix of shellac and wax. It is very difficult to apply (dries immediately, and I haven’t found yet the right tools to apply it…) but I love it’s sublty glossy sheen.

The last couple of weeks or so I’ve been working on one of the chairs we rescued off the street in Brussels, while we were, coveniently, driving a van to go and pick up more furniture we got off Ebay. One of the chairs in original state can be glimpsed in the top picture next to the vanity. Dirtyyy.

At first I thought they were oak, but now that I have sanded one of them and seen the grain, I think the wood might be chestnut. But I am no expert. The carved panel on the seat seems to be another kind of wood, reddish and with a very fine grain. I have no idea what it might be. The chairs are vaguely art deco, they could be from the 30’s. The leatherette seats have been more recently added. Crappily.

One of the chairs was more damaged, the carving split down the center, and it has been tried to fix from wiggling with the wrong kind of glue and angled metal plates with an assortment of screws. Crappily. It still wiggled. I removed all the screws and plates and dissasembled it in great part. As well as I could since I cannot make full use of my left arm and hand (actually, typing is very annoying). I took out the leatherette seat, the seat board (it will have to be replaced), unscrew the seat frame, pulled out the front legs and structure from the back legs and reclining part. One of the sticks was damaged and broke into the casing (I don’t know english “technical” terms for many of these things) which is too bad. I’ve been emptying the “casing” with a tool I don’t know the english name of. It is slow and annoying because of my arm and because I would need another of these tools in a smaller size, too. The stick will need some structural repair.

So I’ve been working mostly on the back piece. I sanded it with a machine (where possible) and by hand.

I decided to dye the carving red (mahogany) and later make seats of dark red silk to match. I also wanted to gild parts (recesses) of the carving, but today I decided against it and gilded something else. I glued and filled in the cracks in the split carving another day, but it swell and split again today due to the humidity of the dye.

It was difficult to find materials and tools I would have quickly found in Barcelona. The city is big and I know where to find anything. And I know what I need. But here, the city is smaller, everything is more expensive, and of course in Dutch. I borrowed books in the library to try and find the terms. So far I have found most of what I need. Still a few things to go. Yesterday we found the mahogany dye, by sheer luck and cheap, it was starting to worry me.

Today I used this water soluble dye, sanded the last bits and gilded the “channeled” parts. I think I overdid it with the dye, once waxed and polished, it is too dark. I’ll have this in mind for the other chair (I am taking this chair as a learning experience) wich will go with the vanity. I gave a few layers and tried to make the roses darker.

They were, but once waxed I cannot see the difference. I also used anilin “watercolor” to make them more red. Or try. I also painted with it over the gilding, to give a reddish hue, also to the wood through the cracks.

I guilded a bit carelessly to achieve a cracked and antiqued look.

Afterwards I waxed (I’m impatient like that and wanted to see how it looks. Too dark) it with the medium oak wax, which is a bit dark, but it doesn’t really darken much and I am not gonna get an entire new pot of neutral for these little plates. And I applied mattine varnish with a brush, it looks prety glossy now. I also put some over the gilding, to protect it, it is not real gold. But it got so dark outside that the pics suck, I’ll show more later in daylight.

Leave a Reply