Let's talk decorating! In particular, the reupholstering of an old chair that has sat in this house since I was about nine years old.
We went to Spokane, Washington, that summer and returned with the nutty chair in the back of Dad's new Oldsmobile 88. How we got that big chair home with half of it hanging out of the back of the trunk, I'm not quite sure: but it was a pretty big car and, I suppose, a much different era (with possibly slower traffic).
It was upholstered in faded blue velvet back then and looked like this.
Ever afterward it sat in my parents' bedroom with an unfinished needlepoint canvas--in Harvest Gold--on the top of the seat. My mother started it and got distracted and the needlepoint was never finished. And there is sat, and sat, and sat.
Of all the chairs I inherited in the Obsessive Compulsive Chair Disorder Collection, this was definitely the most interesting.
It is an ecclesiastical chair of some sort and probably a Catholic one. Here are some of the symbols carved into to:
An expert can help me out, but here are my guesses: the star is the Star of Bethlehem, the heart is made of two shepherd's crooks to denote our own Good Shepherd who would always look out for one sheep who was lost. The cross is upside down to honor he whom Christ loved best, St. Peter: tradition says he asked to be crucified upside down since he did not feel worthy to be crucified in the same way as our Lord. I am not a Catholic, but I know that St. Peter is believed to have been the first Roman Catholic Pope.
Another symbol, on the top of the chair, however, argues that it might be from a High Lutheran Church:
The rose at the center of the cross was often the symbol of Martin Luther who said it was a reminder of the joy that faith brings. The rose is still at the center of Lutheran symbols today. The rose inside the cross might also be the symbol of the Rose of Sharon, another name for Jesus--the beauteous Rose of the House of David.
In any case, after the man came to pick up the chair, I got a telephone call about ten minutes later from the upholsterer himself. I could practically hear him dancing in the background as he talked.
"That's an Eastlake chair," said David, of Mountain View, California's Sterling Upholstery, and explained to me about architect and designer Charles Eastlake (1836-1906) who liked "simple" furniture in reaction to all the do-dads and whatnots of the Georgian and Victorian Eras. It was a movement toward more handmade objects of more simplicity--this is a simple chair if you compare it to a Victorian one. The Eastlake movement was similar in nature to the Arts and Crafts movement begun by William Morris. A turn from machine age, assembly line furnishings to more detailed, less common objects.
The upholsterer said those "spindle" legs gave it away.
Today, spindle legs, religious symbols and all, the chair came home, covered in my favorite color. I'll let you decide for youself how it looks. I love it and keep moving it around the living room to capture it in different light.
I love the detail of small upholstered piece at the back of the chair, suggesting that all details, seen and unseen are equally important.
Note the more Baroque curve of the leg on the table next to the the red chair. A leg from another era!
The good news is that after the chair languished so long in its faded blue velvet coat, it fortunately, did not have an interim life covered in Harvest Gold needlepoint, the color that was the Scourge of the Seventies (forgive me if you love it, or if it is coming back and I missed that New Trend).
The Eastlake has transitioned nicely to Lipstick Red, or, if you will, Royal Red and looks good with the copper hood over my fireplace.
Copper and red and brick. All shades from the same color palette.
Lots of people think I've always wanted a throne anyway (don't say anything). But I promise to let guests have the pleasure of enjoying it too.
As long as they don't want to borrow my tiara.
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