Give a girl a staple gun (and a screwdriver)…

I’ve been tweeting pictures of this project as I put it together, but I’m pretty happy with the way it’s turned out, and it’s the first big project like this I’ve done, so I thought I’d put the sequence up here to share.

Every August, St. Walburg (about an hour northeast of Lloydminster) has their Blueberry Festival. Since the town is only about 800 people, it’s a good time for garage sales too. I was up there to shoot photos for the paper, but I also wandered around some garage sales, and found these chairs.

I’d seen a magazine article at my parents’ house that had taken vintage chairs and redone them in different colours — I can’t remember what the back looked like, but the seat bottoms were orange, purple and green. They looked awesome.
When I moved out, my parents gave me a bunch of things — their old kitchen table and chairs, for example (which I’m pretty sure are older than me) with the reasoning that as I settled, I could start collecting my own stuff, replacing the handmedowns if I didn’t like the style. Quite honestly, I think that’s only going to happen with the kitchen table and chairs, because I love my couch, dishware and entertainment unit…the bed might go. Oh, and the desk is definitely going (it’s a the size of a teacher’s desk, and it’s all metal and weighs about a million pounds. The next time I move that thing is not coming with me).

So I bought the chairs — there’s only three, so if someone has a similar one kicking around, I’d love to have it, but they were $1 each. Even if they weren’t salvageable, $3 for chairs is hardly a loss. My mom’s friend, E., does a lot of recovering furniture, so I brought home one of the chairs the last time I went to Calgary, and she showed me how to take it apart and put it back together.

This photo is from when I started working on them by myself at home, but you get the idea. The one on the right is the original, the one in the middle is just the padding once I’d stripped off the two layers of vinyl on the seat bottom and three layers of vinyl on the back, and the one on the left is the finished one.
You’ll see later that the back of the chair has a different pattern on the front and back, but it’s from the same sheet of vinyl, it’s just the way I cut it. The fabric on the seat bottom is actually a curtain panel. It would have been nice to do them in all different colours (there was a gorgeous blue and a very nice purple) but the panels were each $42 (but half-price if you have a Fabricland membership, which E. does), and big enough for four or five seats, so I just did them all in green.

Ignore me looking horrible in the background, but this is Katie, one of E.’s dogs. I was trying to take out the seam on the curtain, just so that the fabric wasn’t bulkier in any one part, and so that we got an extra half-inch out of the fabric (not that we needed it, like I said, the panel was huge). Katie likes to be wherever you are, and in this case, she wanted to be right on the fabric. Even when we accidentally mis-cut a piece and laid it out for her to sit on, she still wanted to be right in the middle of things.

The after and before product. Fabricland prices actually become halfway reasonable if you have a membership, so I spent about $30 on fabric and $10 on upholstery tacks and feet covers (from Rona), and since every chair was $1, it works out to $13 per chair — all things considered, I think that’s pretty good!
The first chair took us about five hours, but that includes shopping for fabric. I did the other two chairs over the course of yesterday and today — I did the seat bottoms and the back of one yesterday, and the back of the other one today. I was worried my hands were really going to hurt from the staple gun — I have joint, tendon, ligament and muscle damage along with mild carpal tunnel in one wrist (it’s what happens when you carry a 16-pound tenor sax in a marching band on a sprained wrist for over a year and don’t let it heal), and mild carpal tunnel in the other — but other than a little bit of twinging in my wrist and fingers, it isn’t too bad at all. My palm does feel a little bruised from the staple gun since I don’t have enough strength in one hand to use it, I had to use two hands. At least I wasn’t going to staple my fingers accidentally to something like that.

This is the backs of the chairs. Like I said, the pattern is different, but it’s from the same sheet as the front, with the black, green and white pattern. We only forgot to mark the holes for the screws once, on the first chair. I nearly forgot a couple times on the other two chairs, but remembered just in time.

I don’t know yet what my next project is going to be, like I said, this one didn’t take me as long as I thought it would, although there were times yesterday and today when I would glance at the clock, and then look at it hours later, even though it didn’t feel like much later. I’m thinking I want a circular table, especially if I can’t find a fourth chair and if I do only ever have three, but I am eyeing a green-topped table at Ikea….


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