My husband bought me a two day, chair making course, for my Christmas present and it finally happened this weekend.
The course was run by John at his lovely cottage - but there is no point in me telling you all about the cottage because he is moving in two weeks! There should have been four of us but due to illness there were only two of us, and it should have poured with rain all weekend but apart from a couple of very short showers we were able to spend the entire weekend working outside in John's garden. Even during the showers we worked under a tarpaulin.
The entire chair is made out of hazel and willow, all coppiced by John so thankfully we didn't have to chop down our own trees.
First we started with the front and back legs, selecting the right pieces of wood and sawing them to the correct lengths, then we cut the side pieces and to add strength and stability we put in diagonal supports. Every thing was nailed together and every nail hole was pre-drilled to avoid splitting the wood. So now we had a left side and a right side and under John's watchful eye we sawed and nailed and sawed and nailed some more, and eventually we had the framework of a chair.
Now we used willow to create the arms, each piece was individually chosen, cut to length and fixed in place, then shaped into a sweeping curve.
Next we started with the first piece of the arch for the back of the chair, again this is made from willow so using a fair bit of strength it was possible to curve the willow right around the back of the chair.
This took the whole of the first day to build and trust me it was non stop - apart from the mid morning coffee and flapjack break, the lunch break and the afternoon tea and cake break. Cakes and flapjacks were made by John's wife, Helen, and they were delicious.
The day finished at 4.30pm and I was home by 5.00pm - and ready for bed, a mixture of fresh air and physical work meant I was exhausted and slowly beginning to seize up.
The second day was less strenuous, in fact all we had to do today was to finish the arch at the back of the chair and to fill in the struts on the back and the struts on the seat.
These struts are made from hazel and here is where you can put your own mark on the design of your chair. By choosing particular parts of the hazel different shapes and patterns can be formed and so each chair will be unique.
Simple though it looked and sounded (when John explained it), it took quite a long time to select and cut each particular strut and form a pleasing pattern for the back of my chair. At the same time the remaining back arches are fitted and again everything is pre-drilled and nailed into place.
Lastly the struts are cut and fitted to form the chair seat.
Finally you can sit on your chair!
Now I have my chair at home in my garden it seems to be permanently raining and a little overcast and dark, so the pictures are not very good, the chair is also quite heavy and my muscles are no longer working so I can't move it into a better position.
If you would like a similar chair, I can highly recommend www.johnsrusticfurniture.co.uk