French interior and upholstery by Sophie Bailly

Workshop , session 1 / When Voltaire meets the Whepherdess

Before any comments about our first session, I would like to say “welcome” to our 6 brave students (Sophie, Julie, Sandrine, Gitanjali, Ophélie…plus a special “thank you” to Corine, our hostess !) Sacha, you missed us, I hope you will be able to attend the next session. For this first class, I planed to give you a short overview about the process of upholstering, and to show you the basic toolkit you are supposed to use during the next few weeks. After all, it looked maybe more as a Q&A session, but I hope you already got some points! We also started our observations on our first projects : a Voltaire armchair and a small Bergère, both big classics of the french furniture.

When Voltaire meets the Whepherdess

Example of antique French Bergère, Louis XV style
From Le Dictionnaire Pratique de Menuiserie – Ebénisterie – Charpente

Let’s remind us few points about french style !  The noun Bergère is a generic name to describe a kind of deep and comfortable armchair, appeared in France in the early 18th century. At the origins, a bergère was essentially a meuble courant, designed to be moved about to suit convenience.

A Bergère usually features :
– armchair with wooden framing exposed
– the back can be curved (en cabriolet) or flat (à la reine)
– the armrests are joined to the back and present upholstered elbow-rests. Sometimes with ears/wings
– removable cushion, traditionally stuffed with feathers
– Styles : Régence, Louis XV, Louis XVI, Empire

The Bergère brought by Ophélie is a small Louis XV Bergère en cabriolet. After diagnostic, we decided that the chair should only be recovered and the wood cleaned.

The Voltaire armchair, big classic of the french furniture

Fauteuil Voltaire in 2 different shapes
From Le Dictionnaire Pratique de Menuiserie – Ebénisterie – Charpente

The armchair brought by Sandrine is a classic Voltaire, which is one of the most common armchair in the french furniture heritage. This kind of chair appeared in the early 19th century and belongs to the Louis-Philippe Style. Due to its inclined back, it was often used for old and sick people.

Caracteritics :
– high and inclined back, with round shape (en “violon”) or straight (see picture above)
– low seat
– empty arms with stuffed elbow-rests
– exposed wood

Sandrine’s chair needs a total make-over. As the chair was already stripped (good job!), and the wood cleaned and stained, we could start the webbing… a point I will develop in a later post.

For those who didn’t bring a chair, I guess you are already on your way for a crazy chair-hunt ! Look around you, you might find something on the curb until next week (spring-cleaning is good for us !), or maybe, you could just spend a few bucks at the closest consignment store. I’ve just picked up a small armchair in a container located at Forrestal Village. Good luck !

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This entry was posted on April 13, 2012 by in WORKSHOP and tagged , , .
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