Editor’s note: This is the second Chair Chat with Rudy and Klaus where today we discuss a chair that was sold by a Welsh antiques dealer represented as being from Bronant in Cardiganshire. We don’t authenticate chairs – we just talk about what we like and don’t like. This one is another three-legged thing measuring 22″ wide, 15-3/8″ deep and 41″ tall.
I adore all three-legged chairs (it might have to do with my three-legged cat) but this one is especially special.
Chris: What I love about this chair is it’s so simple below the seat and has a lot going on above the seat. Like wearing a tux and a Speedo.
Klaus: Good analogy. Everyone can relate to that, Chris. It’s incredibly beautiful. First of all, I love the wear on that finish.
Rudy: Funny how it’s worn on all sticks.
Chris: Yeah. Do you think the wear is authentic?
Rudy: Maybe, maybe not…
Klaus: Looks like it’s rubbed off. Not by buttocks, I mean.
Rudy: If the sitter had a large enough back to reach those outer long sticks…
Chris: That’s what first jumped out at me. The wear on the back looks right. But it must have been a fat dude wearing a 120-grit T-shirt to get the sticks that way.
Klaus: How common is it to manipulate a finish in antique furniture?
Chris: Very. But aside from that, I love the boxy top.
Rudy: Yup, me too. The crest adds a lot to the overall appearance too.
Klaus: Very compact and perfectly proportioned. If the back was longer, it would tip the balance, I think.
Chris: Totally agree. I tend to like compact backs. Though they are much harder to make comfortable.
The three-piece armbow shows great skill. I think the ends of the joint are beveled in. But it’s a bit tricky to see with the photos.
Rudy: What is funny though is that one stick that protrudes on the right arm. Was that a repair?
Chris: A repair or a stick that has come loose from the mortise below. Odd how they antiqued it….
Klaus: If it was a repair, then why let it protrude like that?
Rudy: …and somehow it has the same wear as the sticks around it…
Chris: Exactly! Anyway, getting away from the CSI Wales, I also adore the comb.
Rudy: It is a thing of beauty in its simplicity.
Klaus: I like that that subtle bend to the comb. A good crest can really top off a chair
Chris: And the ends. Not an obvious shape until you see it. Like a stone worn by a river.
Rudy: Or by a fat back.
Klaus: Oooh, poetic analogy again, Chris!
Rudy: And there is no doubler.
Klaus: The scarf joint eliminates the need for that, I guess.
The top of this chair is just perfect. The unusual stuff is in the seat.
Klaus: That seat grain pattern looks like the universe itself.
Rudy: What strikes me is that the seat is so thick, yet it doesn’t appear clunky or out of balance.
Chris: I LOVE the chunky seat. But I don’t have a butt, so perhaps I am just jealous.
Klaus: Very nice. And no bevel on the underside? Wait, there IS a small bevel actually… And this is what John Brown called a modified seat, isn’t it?
Chris: Yeah. And I REALLY want to know more about those.
Rudy: Yup! With three pegs going through the added piece from the front. Do you think the maker used glue in addition?
Klaus: I recently asked chairmaker Chris Williams about this subject. He pointed out that the arms always dictate everything. Which means that the front short sticks would come too close to the edge if the maker hadn’t made that add-on. And rather than shortening the armbow – if he only had that particular piece of ash seat available – he’d have to extend the seat. And there likely was no glue available when that was built.
Chris: I agree. But what about when the modification looks later than the chair? I assume these were added for comfort or another reason.
Klaus: If added at a later stage it must have been for added comfort, I agree.
Rudy: Part of the seat could have snapped off, but that is not so likely with a seat this thick…
Chris: I assume so. But we don’t know. What we do know is that it appears on chairs. Sometimes it looks original. Sometimes not. This one could be original. But I’ve seen some that look too recent. And by a different hand.
Rudy: Did you guys spot that big knot right in the seat right next to the back leg?
Chris Schwarz: Yes. I would have hated to drill that back leg mortise. I wonder if the maker was aiming for the knot (assuming he/she drilled from below).
Rudy: The maker could have made it a four legged chair, but instead drilled his mortise right next to a knot… puzzling. But the chair survived fine!
Klaus: Haha. Good point. And what happened on the back corner there? You think it split when he hammered in the stick or drilled the mortise? Or did some drunk Welshman throw the chair out of a window, perhaps?
Chris: I thought it was a defect in the seat. A loose knot?
Klaus: My wife says I’ve got a loose knot, too.
Chris: I think we are much pickier about wood for the seat than earlier makers.
Rudy: But going back to the fact that the chair has three legs: Three legged chairs were usually made to be stable on uneven floors. But this chair does not look primitive enough to me to be living in a barn somewhere. I could be wrong of course, but most three-legged chair examples I have seen were stools, backstools or lowbacks.
Chris: There are some nice three-leggers out there. But you are correct in general.
Klaus: Good point, Rudy. This one is perhaps one step above so-called furniture of necessity. What strikes me though, is how hard it would be for me to make a “primitive” chair like this.
Chris Schwarz: I agree, it’s a trick to have a chair that is so simple, balanced, elegant and rustic. I want to make one. This one just nails it down below. I love the splay on the front legs. Aggressive, but not overly. The maker had a good eye.
Rudy: Indeed. I love the general appearance, very balanced and a great form overall!
Klaus: I also love that the arm tilts ever so slightly upwards.
Chris: I hadn’t noticed. Nice catch! If that’s the case, it allows you to put the back of the armbow closer to the lumbar region. And get the hands up. It shows skill and thoughtfulness.
Rudy: Yeah, and it makes the chair very inviting to sit in.
Klaus: Definitely. It probably pitches the sitter a bit back. The slightly tilted arm adds an upward movement to the look of chair, too. And the sticks are also slightly longer above the arm, than under, which adds to that same upwards movement. I like that. Makes the whole chair stretch upwards.
Rudy: True. And all this is balanced by the thick seat.
Chris: Agree. I want to sit in it and see how it feels. So, anything bad to say about this chair? Any misses?
Klaus: Hm. well, about the turned legs? I mean, I like them, but..
Chris: They could be shaved. Look at the reflection on the front leg. It suggests a facet to me.
Klaus: Actually, they fit the rest of the chair. I’m not sure hexagonal or octagonal would fit here.
Rudy: My eye is distracted by the nice splay. But I agree, I don’t think hexagons or octagons would have worked as well here.
Chris: Lots of round legs were shaved I think. I really like doing that on Gibson chairs. Looks better than lathe work. Or my lathe work, that is.
Klaus: So the conclusion is that the chair is perfect, then!
Rudy: Do we want to give this chair a name?
Chris: How about Try Tri Again? …after last week’s three-legger?
Klaus: Yeah, that sounds good!
Chris: Cool. Thanks guys. These chats are fun. Especially the parts we can’t print.