Wednesday, March 4, 2009

My New Old Egg Chair, or Ultimate DIY

Travis McGee and the Frugal Maven are modern design freaks. We used to own a midcentury modern shop full to the brim with Herman Miller furniture, funky lamps and hoohas, cocktail accoutrements and anything and everything made of fibreglass or molded plywood. We are also, as you are well aware, stingy. Back when our shop was open we would cruise thrift stores, auctions, yard and estate sales and the best ever place to find things--junk pickup. There is nothing like finding a treasure buried in a pile of someone else's castoffs. Of course, all good things must come to an end and now we just used to be in the business, with fond memories and three garages full of furniture and gewgaws.

One of our favorite pieces came from the trash. We have an egg chair by Arne Jacobsen, which looks (in the store, where other people buy them) like this:

These chairs were designed in 1958 by Jacobsen and produced by Fritz Hansen. The design was so radical that it took several years for technology to catch up to Jacobsen's idea and be advanced enough to handle the manufacturing. Even now our chair tilts and swivels like it is brand new. Our chair looked like hell when it was retrieved from its' respective junk pile. It also smelled like cats. For six months it resided on the back porch where Travis McGee alternately cleaned and aired it. He then pondered how to reupholster it for a couple of months. Eventually he triumphed and it looked like this:
But as time wore on, the cats discovered that if they leapt high enough they could catch it right at the top and hang on as the chair swung around. And they loved doing that. And it just started to disentegrate. So we decided that it was time for Travis McGee to take another stab at upholstering it. He first had to strip it down to the fiberglass, and bondo the edges, then reseal everything and repad it. Halfway through it looked like this:
So you can see it was a challenge. I was amazed that he even tried to tackle it, but Travis McGee is fearless. He used a vintage cowhide rug as the upholstery material and worked for days off and on, including sewing the edges by hand. He has tons of little pinholes in his fingers now. And the other night I came home from work and was greeted by this:

And so now you know why I am the luckiest girl in the world. All total, we have about $200 and a couple of maimed fingers invested in this over ten years. And just FYI, this chair, in cowhide, sells for $12,782.30 new. But the shipping is free.


Kim said...

Wowzer! That's nice!

Robynn's Ravings said...

Unbelievable! Gorgeous job, Travis. Loved your pics.

I just saw a PBS thing on these chairs, and Herman Miller pieces, a couple of months ago. I learned a lot and now to see you know all about this and even have an egg chair, well, that's just fun. I doubt I would have appreciated this post as much as I absolutely do now!

Treehouse Chef said...

That Travis is so talented! His art shown on the wall in your photo above is awesome! There is nothing that man can't do! He needs his own blog to showcase his work!

Tatersmama said...

That chair is simply gorgeous!
Can Travis McGee come play at my house?
I have a 1930's Camel back sofa a chair that desperately need re-covering !

Frugal Maven said...

Thanks girls! Travis is quite talented! Tomorrow we'll have been married 13 years. Not tired of him yet!

Anonymous said...

Loved the way the old chair looked but love the recovered chair even more. I need to see it in person soon!

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