Three years ago I wrote a blog post about upcycling, I was painting pieces of old furniture using Annie Solan chalk paint after reading what to do online, I just took the plunge and now my home has a few upcycled pieces. However, this time thanks to my awesome husband my Christmas present this year was a day course to learn how to do this properly but also upholstering a chair. To my delight, I discovered that Old White in Cheltenham was the new Annie Solan shop, meeting Shelly who had been trained by Annie herself was so exciting as I was able to learn how to upcycle my future projects, get great tips and advice but also finally be able to purchase my favourite chalk paint without having to travel to stock up.
The class was a nice intimate group of four, we started our chairs on a wet November Saturday, I had spent weeks trying to decide what colour I wanted to use, considering I did not have a plan for where I was placing my chair it was a tough decision the only thing I knew I was going use was Annie Solan’s map material. Before we got started we spent time picking our fabric but what colours to use? with small samples of the paint, we were able to match the fabrics. Eventually, we had all decided, a little scared with the colours we were stepping out of our customary ranges of familiarity.
The first task was to paint our chairs, the good thing about this paint is depending on the wood you are painting on, you do not need to prime or prep your piece. Chalk paint dries very quickly, so you can be quite aggressive with this coat of paint, now I admit on my previous upcycles I had not used the brushes recommended by Annie Solan but using them this time was amazing, it made it so much easier to cover the chair I will be investing in these for my future projects.
Whilst the chairs were drying with their first coat, Shelly showed us the art of revamping the seat and you need strength to do this part. I think I am a bit of weakling but I managed to gain some strength for good tension to ensure my seat pad was going to last. I would say it does help to have a helping hand to hold the frame whilst you staple. The best thing to remember is to always start in the middle and work your way outwards. The good thing about these old chairs is, that they are built to last.
The next part was the seat stuffing, I have to admit I enjoyed this bit as I was introduced to a super strong glue in a spray can! You have to get the perfect amount of filling as you do not want to overfill it, placed on your newly strung frame you spray the glue on the filling and on a piece of foam cut to size, as it is super sticky you have to work quickly and carefully.
We now cover the foam with webbing and material, this is a practice run before the final fabric is placed, it was tricky and very fiddly, you have to get the tension tight without any bulk on the edges, otherwise, it will not fit into the frame of your chair. Watching Shelly tack the fabric was mesmerising she made it look so easy and once you got the hang of it, it was great fun and you build a rhythm.
Time for lunch and a quick break before we complete our final masterpieces. Time for the final coat of paint, I choose a colour that was difficult to see where I had been before, I was convinced I missed spots.
Whilst this was drying, we started to plan where the fabric patterns were going to be placed, one of the nicest things about this workshop was that we all bonded so well, that we all helped each other with our chairs, giving suggestions and encouraging our decisions. It was the nicest group of ladies I have shared a workshop with. And finally, we had to cover our seat pad and finish it absolutely right to fit our chair. As we had the practice run it was a bit easier this time around.
We were shown the different types of wax finishes, how to distress the chair and how to wax, this helped me massively with the techniques needed for home, again investing in a great wax brush is worth it. On the upcycles I have done at home, I have never distressed my pieces, so stepping out of my comfort zone I decided to go for it with this chair and I am glad I did. It gave a finish I had not expected. This was the part where I became finicky about the finish, waxing here and there, double checking everything, noticing the missed paint. Then the exciting part, putting our seat pads into the chairs for the final results and here they are:
We then had extra fun swapping our chair pads to see the different fabrics next to the colours. Some worked better than others
This was a fantastic day and I want to thank Shelly for being a wonderful tutor, I would do the class all over again. I now just have to decide where to place my chair.
If you are interested in taking this course contact Shelly at Old White at 25 Clarence Parade, Cheltenham or check their Facebook page.