You may recall that I had a decision to make regarding the front feet. The turnings in place on the piece (at the Met, by the way), do not appear to be the original. In the internal photos of the piece I obtained, the front stiles show clear evidence of being cut off. You can see saw marks on the end grain and the fact that the mortise has been cut into tells me that the stiles themselves originally extended to the floor to serve as the feet.
|Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art|
|The lines delineate bands which will be painted red. All other parts of the feet will be black|
With the final real decision made, I turned my attention to paint. The original was wildly colored but has muted in the three centuries since it was done. Adding to that effect is a history of degraded varnish and poor cleaning attempts by past owners. You can see some of these effects on the faux wavy grain on the top drawer... much of it was lost in one of those cleaning attempts.
|Original piece after its 1994 cleaning / varnish removal. |
Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
The information for painting this piece was derived from two sources: Frances Gruber Safford's article on the piece in Painted Wood: History and Conservation and the piece's writeup in American Furniture in The Metropolitan Museum of Art: I. Early Colonial Period: The Seventeenth-Century and William and Mary Styles. I have replicated period paint making practices to the extent possible and utilized the pigments originally used as derived from chemical analysis (with the exception of white lead and realgar which is are lead oxides and highly toxic).
Using those period-correct paints, I completed the ground work yesterday. I need to do a little touch up on the black (scuffed it while moving the piece into my basement painting studio from my shop!) and paint the feet before doing the decorative work, but this shot (however poor) gives you some idea of the vibrancy of the original piece. I'm looking forward to completing this piece and enjoying it in my home.
Once this is complete, I may look to tackle a Boston chair. I'm not much of a chair maker but I'd like to change that and I understand this style is quite simple to do.