Sunday, 8 September 2013

DIY: Collage chair

When refurbishing furniture, it's important to remember there's more to life than simple spray paint or varnish. This DIY is all about proving that. 

You'll be needing:
-sanding paper; hard-grained and soft-grained for the wood
                        sanding paper for steel surfaces
-plastic to cover up certain surfaces if necessary
- spray paint (matt gray)
-old magazines, newspapers, pieces of wallpaper, old posters, ...
- wallpaper adhesive
-a brush
-a pressure roller
-a cutter knife
-a colourless, glossy varnish.
-about 2 to 3 hours of your time, spread over a few days due to the drying time of the paints and varnishes used.
- check out this compact guide to refurbishing old furniture for some more information

Let's get started!
The seat and the backrest are clearly stained and worn out and the metal legs are starting to rust. Make your preparations; put on old clothes and wear gloves.
You best start off with disassemblying the piece of furniture as much as possible. Unfortunately this particular chair is tightened with a kind of screw that's not removable.
Next up is sanding the woodwork;  begin with hard-grained sandpaper, and later continue with a smoother version. It's very important to follow the direction of the wood grains while sanding, since this leaves little scratches in the wood. Don't forget the corners/ sides! Wipe off the excess dust (sanding wood litteraly leaves a layer of dust on the surface, so I hope your not allergic) and search the surface for imperfections. Repeat if necessary.

For the steel framework you'll be needing sanding paper for steel, keep on sanding untill the rust goes off. Since this will make the paint come off, it'll be necessary to repaint the steelwork.

I chose to repaint the tubework in a slightly different colour;  matt gray, which will give it a more modern look. First check if you can easily remove the wooden parts from the steel frame. Unfortunately these screws are not removable (bummer), so I had to get creative with plastic foil. I used special painters foil with tape attached to it and just wrapped the chair in it and covered the holes with extra tape.
Spray paint!
As this chair is quite simple in shape and detailling, you can go a little farther with the refurbishment; I opted for a decorated backrest.
First think about what sort of image or pattern you want on your backrest: it can be as simple as a beautifull picturen an old poster or some memorable pages out of a book. I went with a sort of collage, using alternating strips of paper in various sizes.  Look for  fashion magazines or newspapers as these usually have several pages with similar tones or textures.
Cut the chosen paper into strips, ranging from about 4,5 to 2 centimeters. (adjust this according to the size of the furniture)  Get the wallpaper adhesive and follow the instructions on the package, usually it goes something like this: pour some water in a bowl and add the mixture to it, and stir untill you get a thick, white paste. Let it rest for 30 minutes and then stir again.
 Apply the paste equally on the frontside of the chair's backrest using a brush. Don't go to cheap on the glue. Wipe clean any surfaces that should stay uncovered; e.g. the sides of the backrest. Then gradually decorate the surface, by first placing one series of strips with varying interspaces, adding some adhesive if necessary, and then placing the next series, overlappping the first. cover everything in glue (similar to papier-maché) and straighten with a pressure roller. If all went well, you'll be looking at this:

At this point, it'll probably take  a few hours untill the wallpaper adhesive has dried, depending on how soaked the paper was. 
Use a cutter knife to cut away the excess paper around the edges. This will define the look of your chair to some extent (frayed edges versus a clean cut), so be carefull. The final step is  getting the varnish out and covering the surfaces. I used a colorless, glossy varnish. Despite its name it does darken the wood and gives the paper a beautifull, aged effect. Again, folow the grain and don't forget the edges. When finished, run your brush over the surfaces one more time to get an equal spread. Let dry and do-over.

Here's the result:  

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