Posts Tagged ‘Art Deco’

No Hassle(hoff) Furniture Restoration

It’s unusual when you find you have something in common with Pamela

Pamela Anderson - handy to have in the Workshop

Pamela Anderson - handy to have in the Workshop

Anderson, but she was once quoted as saying, “my ideal relaxation is working on upholstery. I spend hours in junk shops buying furniture, I do all the upholstery work myself and it’s like therapy.”

I couldn’t agree more. – Furniture restoration is a rewarding and therapeutic process.  I’ve restored over a dozen pieces of ever day household furniture, from pieces cobbled together from broken parts to colonial period furniture that’s been in the family for generations.  Like Pam, I’m also a fan of discovering furniture in secondhand stores and the local recycling centre – my restoration achievements include a 1912 ‘Singer’ and 1920s ‘Free’ belt driven sewing machine and table.  These machines made in the early part of last century required no electricity and are still used in underdeveloped countries, which is testimony to their superb design and construction.

Every piece of furniture has a unique period style in design history.  Over the years there are often repairs, modifications and the plantina of generations.  I once discovered a Rimu (New Zealand native timber) folding table at the former house of my great-grandparents, painted lime green.  Once the paint was removed, the table repaired and re-polished, it has once again has become a family centre piece.

depression furniture by Astroboy_71 from recent style of furniture I’ve discovered is depression era furniture 1925 – 1935. It’s a style to be easily overlooked, common examples were chairs, tables, food safes and cupboards made  from demolition timber, packing boxes, old chicken wire, recycled nails and homemade glues (from rendered bones.) – To be honest it’s not an especially aesthetically pleasing style, until you know the history and circumstances behind it.  But what is significant about this style in an age of flat-pack and cheap plastic laminates is how the builder with basic tools, time and craftsmanship used waste materials to create functional and usable furniture that has survived for over 80 years. – It’s doubtful you’ll be able to say the same about flat pack.

Inspired by the resourcefulness, there has been the construction of a depression era workbench – 2009 vintage, in the ‘man-cave.’  Using waste four-by-two (4×2) wood from a demolished wall, salvaged cork titles from a lifted floor, forklift palettes and recycled four-inch nails, I’ve constructed a SOLID workbench with some 1930s art deco-style features.  Overall time involved with the project was around ten hours, which was not a problem due to a brief period of recession unemployment.  To keep it authentic (and sustainable) the project was all done with hand tools to save on power, the final cost came in at nothing as a result, which was not bad considering all the materials were previously marked for firewood and disposal.

My Workbench - made from entirely waste materials

My Workbench – made from entirely waste materials

The new workbench is already employed in the restoration of a 1950’s Oak desk ($5.00 from the recycling centre.) So I wonder if Pam and I share any other hobbies or if it stops at furniture restoration? – Either way I’m sure I’ll never look at her quite the same again, which is hard to admit after a heavy TV diet of Baywatch as a teenager.

Tip: If restoring a singer sewing machine the serial number on the base denotes the location and year it was made.