I’m quite proud to present my new digitally printed, velvet re upholstered Peacock butterfly chair!
It took me 36+ hours from start to finish to transform it from a boring beige to this spectacularly patterned turquoise beauty - now traditionally upholstered with totally natural fabrics as opposed to the mainly synthetic cheap, poor, substitutes of which it was made before hand.
I have thought about trying my hand at upholstery for a while- I took part of a collaborative project about five years ago with an upholster called Mel Shearsmith, I designed and got the fabric printed for it and she did the upholstery. Together we created the little chair below which we called the Queen bee chair.
My new venture was all made possible at the fantastic Bristol Upholstery Collective where you can learn the craft of traditional upholstery yourself.
As a New Years goal I decided to have a go. I decided was important continued professional development: having a better understanding of the internal workings of how a chair is put together and that it might inform the way I would design fabric for future upholstered projects. It was indeed fascinating how many layers are hidden below the surface, how physical it was and addictive. I also gained valuable insights from the tutors, saw how the other students chairs were made- each one a different beast- and watched with interest which chairs were being bought in by customers to be re upholstered each week.
I didn’t finish designing it and get my fabric printed until I had stripped the chair first just to be sure I was giving myself enough extra to go in those places that aren’t seen . I ended up with very little waste.
My chair was made as a response to the wallpaper and lampshades I’d designed and had printed for an exhibition back in September which I explain more about in my previous post “Into the light” I dipped my toe into the world of wallpaper design as a response to some very old butterfly cabinets found in the archives of the Museum in the Park, Stroud. Which is where I exhibited the final pieces of work shown next to five other printmakers responses to the hidden exhibits they had found.
My wallpaper designs focused on just four British butterflies found in the display drawers. these included Peacock butterfly, High Brown fritilary, Common Blue butterfly and the Red Admiral. I also designed fabric to fit lampshades to be hung next to them and a lasercut and screen printed mirror featuring all four butterflies and honeysuckle.
Since the exhibition I have had two of the designs manufactured into a very small run of professionally digitally printed wallpaper, the Peacock butterfly and the High brown fritillary which are now available to buy in 10 metre rolls in a limited addition of 10 rolls in total.
I now have a range of products inspired these two butterflies including the round box cushions pictured below and the lampshades available in five different sizes.( see my lampshade page) It was my intention all along to create sellable products inspired by the exhibition pieces ..
The chair was an extra bonus but took far to long to make and I am far too attached to it to consider selling it. I have however made good contacts now with the skilled craftswomen and men of Bristol Upholstery Collective and I would happily collaborate with them on future projects.