Upholstery: The Maxine Chair Takes Flight

Balloon-back upholstered chair with rooster feather skirt

Waiting for the Maxine, aka “Murder She Wrote” Chair to take flight was an exercise in patience. It was a hot summer day in 2016 when I spotted the old antique balloon-back chair at Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore.

My cousin Maxine was in town, so with her rented compact car, we hauled the chair up to Burkcraft Furniture Company where I had been apprenticing for the last 18 months.

Before Photo of the Maxine Chair

It was mid-summer and the shop was stacked to the rafters with upholstery jobs. A commercial contract for Xerox took up most of the shop floor so the balloon-back got pushed into the crevices – then eventually to a storage locker where it collected more dust.

Balloon-Back Chair stripped of seat fabric

It wasn’t until winter that I convinced Berkley to retrieve the chair from lock-up. Part of what I love most about Berkley and Pam – proprietors of Burkcraft Furniture Company – is that they’re very supportive of my endeavours.

Detail of rooster feathers and ostrich embossed leather

But the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry so naturally, the Maxine Chair hit a few snags: The decorative trim nails were over a month on back order; the matte-black stain I initially used started to rub away the base stain, and the scrap piece of ostrich print leather that I originally planned for wasn’t large enough to cover the seat.

The Balloon Back Chair stained in matte black

I would be remised without adding that many wonderful things also happened during the saga of the Maxine Chair. The most important being that my brother returned from living out west and started helping out in the shop. A suitable piece of scrap leather to replace the ostrich print was discovered. And I actually fell in love with rooster tail feathers. So much so that I stockpiled a few. Expect to see more feathers in upcoming projects.

Spring is finally here and the Maxine aka “Murder She Wrote” Chair is complete. I named it after my cousin, Maxine who helped me get the chair to the shop and who possess all the glamour and charisma I think this chair captures.

Going forward, projects should roll off the workbench more efficiently. My brother is a quick study at the upholstery trade and wants to be part of the vision I (now we) have for Hollis Newton. Thank you bro! Thank you Maxine!




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