Last year I was invited to a Canada Day BBQ at Jocelyn’s place. Jocelyn is a Canadian friend of mine who has been living and working in The Hague for a few years. This was my first time to her apartment and I noticed that she had amazingly cool antique furniture. When I complimented her on it, she proudly declared that she had restored it herself. I took a mental note to follow up on this interesting tidbit. Then proceeded to eat and drink myself into a stupor.
Almost a year later and I have a new hobby: antique furniture restoration.
I started last week at the studio/shop of a local family, the van der Gaags, who specialize in traditional restoration techniques. They hold several 2.5 hour classes a week. You pick a time, show up with your old furniture, they allow you to use their tools and treat you as an apprentice as they guide you through your restoration project. Awesome.
Sometimes I think I have too many hobbies. Is that possible? No…
But is it possible for a young-ish black-ish woman-ish to look like Mr. Burns?
So this is my chair. Jocelyn, kind soul that she is, donated it to my cause. We had gone out the weekend before to find me a project, but the only thing that I found of interest was a giant Art Deco wardrobe that would have taken me about 30 years to restore. Go big or go home, I always say. However, Jocelyn (quite wisely) suggested that I start small and give myself a sporting chance at actually *finishing* a project without losing my mind. Fair enough. She must sense how little of it I have left to spare.
So last Tuesday I was introduced to my chair, given a hammer and nail remover, and set on the task of removing all of the old fabric. Which I did with vigor. I enjoyed myself a little more than was probably necessary.
This chair was one of four that Jocelyn had won at an auction. She paid 4 euros for it. She gave it to me because she was getting sick of working on chairs and wanted to move onto a cabinet she had just bought. I was happy to take it off her hands. I’ll buy her a latte to repay her. Coffee is expensive here.
It was clear that this chair had already been restored at some point many moons ago. The structure was pretty sound, but the fabric had faded and the interior had collected a grotesque amount of dust and grime over the years. One of the other ladies in the group told me a story about how she had found a numbered and signed Escher print at a local second-hand shop. She bought it for 30 euros and sold it for 14,000. HOOmigod. I inspected the inside of the chair for a rolled up van Gogh. No such luck.
I actually don’t know much about my little chair. When I arrived at the class I was perhaps a little over-zealous to get started. I got right into tearing it apart. I didn’t read the attached tag. I didn’t even sit in it. What I do know is that it’s called a ‘Lady’s Smoking Chair’ (which I have dubbed the ‘Smokin’ Lady’s Chair’) and I think it’s from France. The next class is tonight so I’ll try to find out more. I’ll let you know.