City Girl Arts: My Passion is Creativity

I’ve always craved creativity. My mother taught me how to sew early on, and I added to my interests and skills on my own as life went on. I took up painting canvases and then furniture. Then I discovered upholstery. Not just any upholstery, though. My hands longed for the kind of skills that old-world artisans practiced with springs, burlap, twine, wood wool, cotton, horsehair, tacks and hand stitching. It’s like sculpture to me. After initial training with a master upholsterer and studying countless old books on the fine craft of what is known as traditional upholstery (no foam, and natural, time-tested materials), I have set up my business to design and craft seating pieces upholstered in the old-world manner on the inside, but with colorful, bold outside coverings that make a modern, artistic statement. These are functional, durable works of art. Below are a few examples.

Upholstered Vintage French Side Chair

Italian Carved Fireside Chair in Designer Contrasting Velvets

French Shield Back Chair Fronts

Kidney Bean Settee in Designer Velvets and Down-Wrapped Cushion

Gilded Chair French

French Houndstooth Chair with Leather Accent

In addition to creating these pieces for sale, I take commissions. If you can imagine a piece taken from history, built up inside with natural, sculptural materials, and topped with fascinating fabrics, contact me; I’ll make that for you. I keep an inventory of lovely vintage chairs, or if you have a favorite you’d like to redo in the traditional manner, I’m your City Girl.



French Plus Bohemian: A Chair Story in the Traditional Upholstery Manner

There once was a very sad Louis style chair. Very beige, very neutral, very brown wood. It was French in style, and vintage, so it had something going for it, but all else was a complete bore, so it’s not even worth showing. It needed color on the outside! On the inside, it was even worse: crusty, crumbling old foam over webbing, which would never do, professionally speaking. So, off came all of its materials, all the way down to the bones, to be built back up the traditional, European, way, with springs and natural materials (no foam).

French Chair Stripped and Milk-Painted   HTS

I painted it with natural milk paint in a cornflower blue hue–meant to be imperfect looking. Sealed with tung oil and lightly distressed for a casual look, the transformation had begun. Next came webbing and hand-tied springs, anchored with tacks. Although I usually tie my springs eight ways, most of these are tied six ways, because eight ways seemed like overkill on such a small seat. I daresay they’re tight and will last just as many years.

wood wool or excelsior

This is excelsior, or wood wool. Using traditional upholstery methods, it gets laid into bridles to be covered with burlap and hand-stitched into a first stuffing. The stitching compacts the wood wool in a roll around the top to support the second stuffing of hair.

excelsior first stuffing hand stitched edge roll
On top of this, lots of fluffy horsehair gets bridled in to form the second stuffing. I then cover that with muslin and a layer or two of cotton before I put on the fabric. In this case, the fabric is a wonderful designer velvet that is printed with a large variety of patterns in amazing colors. Just the effect I was looking for.

Bohemian Style Vintage Upholstered Louis French Chair

City Girl Arts upholstered boho french chair

With an oversized black and white houndstooth chenille in the picture frame back, and double welting made of plum purple velvet, the completed look far surpasses the original in excitement. The inside, done with traditional methods and materials, far surpasses the original in comfort, quality, and durability. This beauty is going to make a fabulous statement wherever it ends up. Check out my Etsy shop, or Chairish, to find it.

I design and make chairs to sell, or for clients based on their own desires. I have an inventory of vintage seating pieces longing for their big breaks–contact me directly to design and make a chair for you that has something to say!