It’s A Chair Thing: Part 1

I have already said in my introduction that the folding is one branch of the work I am currently making. The other current piece of work in progress is  a ‘dress’ for three arch backed 60’s chairs.

This work continues from the ‘Ercol Easy Jodhpur’ piece and the Conjoin:me sculptures my collaboration work with Hedley Roberts.

The chairs I decided to use are the same style that I sat on for virtually every meal until the age of 18. The style Ercol ‘Quaker’ and was produced in vast numbers in the 60’s and 70’s.

There are some other influences in this piece of work which hopefully will start to reveal themselves once the basic pattern cutting has been resolved. Here are some images I was looking at. They relate to my Grandmothers time on stage with her uncle the escapologist and illusionist Charlie Morritt and will be enmeshed in the final piece.

Still from ‘Celine and Julie go Boating’ Jacques Rivette 1974

Sawing a woman in half. Stage set.

Carol Golemboski ‘Sawing a Woman In Half’ 2008

‘Creepy Legs’ Found mannequin legs circa 1930

I intend to engraft the ‘Creepy Legs’ into the main body of the sculpture, the legs will be dressed will grown into the chair covering. I enjoy the fact that they are reminiscent of the dismembered legs of a magician’s assistant during the illustion of being sawn in half.

I intend to reference these theatre curtains in some way for this piece. For me they represent performance, mystery and glamour.

Florence Doleac  ‘La Chaise mise à nu’  2003

I found this piece Florence Deleac’s work when researching for the current sculpture. It has similarities to my work yet it derives from a completely different place.

There is a certain amount of trust which happens throughout the process of making a piece of work. If I consider that mistakes can hold new avenues of exploration then I am more open to taking risks. Intuition, or as it can also be described the subconscious measuring of the work in process against everything that has ever inspired or engaged me.

I initially made a pattern to cover one chair by taping paper to it and tracing through the main shapes with a pencil. At some points, if the shape made it impossible for me to do this I had to take measurements and transfer them to the pattern. I then constructed a crude pattern and used calico to make a toile or a mock-up of the pattern.

The paper pattern stage.

This is the toiling stage where mock ups are made in calico.

This is a process commonly used in fashion for pattern cutting. One can expect to make many toiles to get the pattern right and it reduces the expense of wasting fabric before mistakes are resolved.

The single calico ‘cell’ is complete. The next stage is to begin to find a way to join three seperate chairs together.

The chairs have many distinct details that it was essential not to lose as their character and particular styling is important to the work. Therefore the pattern cutting I have had to use is more akin to that of upholstery which is quite a different discipline even though the basic rules are the same.

It is important that each piece is joined integrally, that one chair elides into the other rather than them looking as if they have been crudely bolted together.

Should I decide to add other elements to this basic pattern the same process applies.

Finally, with some expert help from Helen Bailey, the toile of the three chairs joined together. This forms the basis of the sculpture ‘The Three Sisters’ and will be the core of Summer 2010’s studio work.

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