Editor’s note: Chris found this chair on an Amish mole porn site. With its relatively small seat and interesting seat shape, this chair warmed our hearts – despite the inability of the maker to drill his armbow holes spaced out correctly. Perhaps he was drunk, or maybe he was just lacking his boring buddy that day. We will never know. But what we do know is that none of us like silicone, whether it is in people or chairs.
As always, we don’t authenticate chairs, we just like to talk about them. Also, salty language lies ahead. So don’t click this if you are sensitive. Please.
Chris: Here’s the description from the seller: “Constructed from oak throughout with 2.5″ thick single slab seat with beautiful grain and retaining some bark to rear corner as pictured.
“Very strong and stable, standing well with pleasant proportions and pretty bowed out comb. A nice example of a Welsh stick chair displaying superb genuine warm and nutty colour throughout.
“Seat Height 15” = 38cm / Seat Depth 13″ = 33cm / Seat width 21″ = 54cm / Overall height 41″ = 104cm. Maximum Width across arms 28″ = 72cm. Seller: Welsh Vernacular Antiques in Ceredigion.”
Rudy: I almost picked that one for our chair chat today!
Klaus: I saw that one too, earlier
Rudy: Chris, are you on the same internet or something?
Klaus: He can’t be. Isn’t he Amish?
Chris: My internet has all Amish mole porn. You know, the small animal that burrows.
Klaus: Whew! About the chair, it is just stunning. The first thing I want to comment on is the seat shape.
Chris: What’s your theory? I’ve got one..
Klaus: That the seat split or broke off at one side, and that he fixed it by making it the same shape on both sides.
Chris: Mmm….. I think the weird shape is the beginning of a branch.
Rudy: Maybe he tried to make a nice seat and then one of his kids used the chair as a ladder?
Klaus: OK, my theory sucked, I’ll admit it. I wasn’t prepared.
Chris: Look at the grain pattern on the seat. You can see the shoot going off. Which explains the weird bark on one side.
Klaus: You’re right. That’s very neat. I love it when a piece of wood tells a story like that.
Chris: I have never seen that. That’s why I picked it. Also…. the messed up sticks. But we’ll get back to those.
Rudy: So, why did he drill that spindle at that spot where it is exposed? Did that part perhaps break off? The seat is surprisingly symmetrical though.
Chris: Maybe. I suspect he/she was squeezing a seat out of what was available.
Klaus: It seems to me like he placed the spindle mortises nicely and proportionally along that edge.
Chris: There might have been some more bark at first that fell off. It’s symmetrical along the seat. But not in the armbow. That’s where drunkeness is found..
Klaus: But if you look at one of the photos, two of the spindles actually come through right where it’s broken off, Is this what you meant, Rudy?
Rudy: Yes, exactly.
Klaus: Yeah, that seems like a huge risk to take.
Rudy: It could be the bark was still on, or it was weak for some other reason.
Chris: Yeah. There might have been some outer bark still on the seat when it was made.
Klaus: Yeah, could be. But still a risk to take to go that near. It looks like the spindle tenon is square, too. Or am I seeing wrong? It could be the photo angle.
Rudy: Mmm hard to tell.. is that a horizontal peg in the seat, to the left of the spindle?
Chris: I think it’s the photo. Or it has been sheared off at some point. Or part of the branch?
Rudy: Or a knot…?
Chris: Good thought!
Klaus: A very pretty seat with a great personality.
Chris: And amazingly shallow (13″).
Klaus: That is VERY shallow. Could fit your bony ass, Chris. But I would fall out.
Rudy: it’s actually a very small seat overall. It appears much bigger, the wide arms make up for the small seat.
Chris: Agree there! The seat width is isn’t too small. It’s mostly the depth that’s odd. And it’s low…. but typically so.
Rudy: Yeah, it’s not abnormal – but the chair does not appear shallow from its overall appearance.
Klaus: It does look rightly proportioned.
Rudy: All the sticks go out. The crest is wide.
Chris: I like the proportions. The weirdness is in the sticks.
Klaus: Yes, they seem to pierce the arm at random places. But perhaps this is due to knots and what-nots.
Rudy: Such cute little turnings on the front sticks. Again, not abnormal but here…
Klaus: Yeah, I can live with those small turnings. Glad it’s not more though.
Chris: I like the front turned sticks. They are a touch of class on a rustic chair.
Chris: Look at the two back sticks on the right side. The sticks on the left look correct. The ones on the right look drunkenly spaced.
Rudy: Yes, they do. Perhaps he liked a bender.
Klaus: Yeah, I was wondering if it could be some issues with the arm there.
Chris: The stick spacing is regular at the seat. And at the crest. But the armbow….. Either an error? A repair?
Klaus: The arm seems like it’s from a branch, cut in half and joined again. Could be some knots or other things that make up the weird placement? Hard to tell without a photo.
Rudy: There is a scarf joint in the middle
Klaus: Yup, a nice one too. Tight.
Chris: Yup on the scarf. I wonder if the builder had a tumor on his back? Joking!
Klaus: Could it be later movement in the arm? No, the joint would move then, too.
Chris: But the sticks spread out.
Rudy: With sticks that thin, it would be pretty easy to force them into place I think. I think he drilled the mortises in the arm on purpose. Maybe to avoid a knot?
Klaus: I think so, too. Something like that. Or to avoid some area in the scarf joint maybe.
Chris: I’m wondering if it’s a bad repair. Or the maker got mixed up when spacing the sticks in the arm.
Klaus: Or perhaps the arm is too thin there. Which we can’t see. Well, there are many “bad” agricultural repairs in these chairs. Rudimentary repairs is perhaps a better term.
Rudy: One last theory, the 4th stick from the left is right in the middle of the scarf joint and it was pulled to the left to fit right there in the middle? Actually no, I think he was drunk.
Chris: Drunk seems to be a good explanation. But we can’t know unless we see the arm. And I have no photos of the arm…
Rudy: Well the maker definitely had a liking for crooked things. Look at that leg!
Klaus: Could it not just be that the sticks, that are obviously thin branches, just were too wonky to pierce the arm with a proportional spacing? But as you said, Rudy, they would be easy to force into place. Forget it.
Chris: I don’t know. These sticks are pretty bent above the armbow to spread out.
Klaus: I’m too sober to come up with better theories.
Chris: I think it’s unsolvable without more photos.
Rudy: it’s tough trying to get into the head of this maker, or repair guy.
Chris: I do like the curved legs….
Rudy: Yeah, I am a big fan of curves.
Klaus: They are lovely. Naturally curved. Just the way I like it.
Chris: No implants.
Rudy: Just 100 percent natural.
Klaus: No, God, no. Implants suck. In chairs and women!
Chris: And men!
Rudy: And children!
Chris: And cats!
Klaus: And dwarves. We were talking about the legs?
Chris: So… curved legs. Cut from a branch? Split from the butt of a tree?
Klaus: I would think so.
Rudy: Riven from a branch I would think. Perhaps even all four from the same branch, judging from the different diameters.
Chris: Well the front right leg looks like it has more curve than its buddies.
Klaus: Yeah, that last sweep towards the floor seems to be the same too on at least two of them.
Rudy: Sometimes when you rive, one of them comes out more curved. It depends on the grain within the branch and or knots, etc. In my experience, at least.
Klaus: Are they drawknifed round, you think? This guy obviously had a pole lathe, but…
Chris: Why do you think he had a lathe? The front sticks could have been purchased.
Klaus: That’s a very good point. As I said, I’m too sober.
Chris: Emyr Davis at St Fagans mentioned this as a possibility with some chairs.
Rudy: I don’t think you can use a lathe to make a curved branch round. Except if he turned a perfectly straight leg and then sat on it as it dried.
Klaus: Haha, you’re right, Rudy.
Rudy: it looks like he probably accidentally sat on some of this other timber too as it dried.
Chris: A one-legged butt-plug chair.
Rudy: I mean, the chair is brown, right?
Chris: Brown. All the way downtown.
Klaus: I also remember reading somewhere about bodgers and turners who made chair parts like that and sold them separately.
Chris: The turned spindles look like nothing else on the chair, which is very hedg-y to me.
Rudy: Agree on the turned spindles, the rest of the chair looks handmade/buttmade to me.
Chris: I like hedge-y
Klaus: Hedge-y chairs are nice. They respect their origin.
Chris: People still buy turnings for chairs….
Klaus: They do. What’s wrong with people?
Rudy: Then he probably bought the two spindles and made the rest of the chair?
Chris: I think so!
Rudy: I think so, too
Klaus: Me too! Me too!
Chris: You see. We learn stuff together.
Klaus: I would definitely not pay for those spindles.
Rudy: No, me neither!
Klaus: My wife would say: You’ve been ripped off. I would try to convince her it was a bargain. It would end with me sleeping in the guest room.
Chris: How about that crest? Flat as a board. But still nice.
Klaus: It is primitive, simple and square, but nice. But I’m not sure if the maker had those aesthetic thoughts about it.
Chris: I’m surprised how much I like it — despite it has no curve etc. It suits the chair as a whole.
Rudy: I think the crest finishes off what the maker started at his tiny seat. It opens the chair up to the sitter
Chris: AGREE. The overall hourglass shape is nice.
Rudy: The crest had to be almost flat because of the thin seat. Same with the back of the armbow.
Chris: Yup. Good points.
Klaus: Those outer spindles are awfully close to the edge of that crest. Could it have been sawn off at a later stage?
Chris: The maker was a risk taker. I think it looks original.
Rudy: He was a daunting fella, this guy. He wanted all that width! And the chair survived.
Klaus: He liked ’em wide.
Chris: Risky Stick-ness. The chair does have a stick repair. But it did survive. So kudos!
Klaus: Yup. NEXT!