Rocker Mountain High

Yep, it’s legal here in Colorado but this isn’t a pot post, so if you’re intrigued by the title alone and thinking that the following will be about ganja crafts, you will want to find another blog to entertain you for the next 5 minutes.  This is about a chair.

There is something so comforting to me about a rocking chair in a house.  More than likely I am just inherently nostalgic as I was a rocked baby, every night to M.A.S.H. reruns.  I may not remember the exact moments, but I must remember the soothing comfort for I have long desired a rocking chair of my own.  They are a symbol of simpler times, of relaxing and whittling on the porch, of embroidery in the evenings instead of a glaring television.  They are not complicated or padded or ergonomic, they just work without a ton of engineering.

Then one lucky day we came across a rocking chair for $10 at an antique store that seemed too good to pass up.  Structurally, the chair was still sound but the wood needed a bit of attention and it was desperately in need of a new seat.  With just a few materials and a few hours, we knew we could restore the chair to its former glory.



After about an hour of sanding by hand as a team, “You take the left side and I’ll take the right”, we had a pretty decent chair to spiff up.   Using leftover cans of stain from our former house-dwelling existence, we put a couple of coats on to restore the wood.  Side notes:  if you are looking to refinish a small piece of furniture, go to your local re-store (such as a Habitat for Humanity) for stains and finishes as there are always partially used cans for less than a dollar.  It saves you money, you won’t have your own leftover jar and it keeps yucky stuff out of landfills.  After the stain coats dried, we sealed the whole chair with a clear coat of polyurethane.  Again, you can easily get partially used cans of this around.

To replace the seat, we decided that instead of weaving a new one, we would make ours out of plywood, foam and fabric.  We cut a small piece of plywood to fit, cut foam to fit the plywood and wrapped fabric around the top of the foam to finish.  The fabric we used came from my stash (about a half yard) and is a nice wool Pendleton plaid.  We did a simple upholstery fold and attached to the bottom of the seat with upholstery tacks.  In order to secure it then secure the seat to the chair, we created some copper fasteners that we wrapped around the frame and screwed into the seat.  Because we are always looking to create and restore with the materials we have on hand, we only had to purchase the foam; however even if you had to purchase/collect everything needed, you are still looking at an affordable piece of furniture.

And After.

And After.

And now we have a rocking chair of our own! Although I still gravitate to the cushy armchair with my leisure activities, I love to see it being used in our household every morning by my sweetheart with his mug of coffee.  We have our own rocker in the mountains.

The $3 Chair

Here I am!  Pink and blank salvaged from a wreck.

Here I am! Pink and black and salvaged from a wreck.

I have a soft spot for thrift stores, garage sales, haphazard antique stores and estate sales, all despite the fact that I absolutely detest most shopping.  It is all about finding that gem lying amidst the junk.  This quest is what led me to a junk sale (advertised as a yard sale) on the outskirts of town one hot summer day.  I had already driven the five miles, so I ventured out of the car and continued forward despite the frightening piles of debris labeled as a sale.  Among the piles of rusted yard implements and tattered faded clothes was a fine specimen of mid-century production.  The problem was that the chair needed some serious attention and it was $5.  Now, as I was one of the few brave souls who actually stopped at the sale pile, the sellers were amenable to taking anything I offered.  I bought it for $3 knowing that I had a big project ahead of me.

Typically, I’m not a fan of painting wood, my reigning re-do philosophy being that wood should remain wood, unless it is veneer, which hours of painstaking sanding (by hand) revealed.  My vision of a rosewood stained chair was soon replaced by another idea:  something painted.  Banishing my antiquated concerns about CFCs and ozone killers, I picked up a can of spray paint and quickly adapted to the idea of a sleek black chair.  The key to making painted wood look good is in the pre-paint preparation.  A good thorough sanding, preferably by hand, is very important to get a good base for the paint.  After I cleaned off all of the dust from sanding, I primed the chair with some basic primer. Once the primer dried, I painted the chair twice with the spray paint.  Since it was summer and I live in the high desert, the drying time was very minimal, but it’s important that every step is completely dry before moving on to another.

To re-upholster the chair bottom, I simply wrapped a piece of upholstery grade fabric (thicker and more durable than a cotton fabric) and used a staple gun to secure it discreetly to the bottom.  To dress it up a bit, I purchased upholstery tacks from a chain fabric store to attach the fabric around the sides and the top.

After the investment in the improvements, the $3 chair became a $15 chair, and it is personalized completely to my taste. And since I purchased the chair on a whim, I decided to make it a more whimsical project and do something  different.  The chair is a good reminder that if you see something you like, you can always personalize it; a little bit of attention can go a long way.

Side profile -- looking good!

Side profile — looking good!