Editor’s note: This week, we discuss a vernacular low chair where function has exceeded form. As with chairs, so also with humans – when a large chunk is added to your seat, you’ll end up looking out of proportion. Oh, and we also play a round of the classic game “Rock Paper Turd.”
And don’t forget: We don’t authenticate chairs – we just talk about what we like and don’t like.
As usual, we don’t know much about the chair. Its age, if the chairmaker had a big-bottomed wife or if he had a dog that could whistle. What we do know is that the seller says this: “This is a 19th century primitive Welsh ash low back chair. The measurements are: 59 cm wide, 40 cm deep, 29 cm seat height.”
Rudy: 29 cm seat height! That’s only about 11,417322834645 inches.
Klaus: Ah, the metric system. What’s not to like. You know what they say: The Americans go metric, inch by inch!
Chris: Ya, 11,417322834645″ is not a lot when it comes to seat height..
Klaus: OK, it’s time to bring out the gimp!
Rudy: Mommy, look at my battens!
Klaus: Is this a children’s chair? Or it was made for some Welshman with amputated legs?
Rudy: Yeah, this is more like a creepie height.
Rudy: Such a creepy sight.
Chris: Waiting for one more rhyme! Jam Master Rudy!
Klaus: Yeah, bring it MC Rudy!
Rudy: …It’s not a delight!
Rudy: Ah.. dude, the pressure!
Rudy: …I hope its joints are still tight!
Klaus: Standing ovation! They might!
Rudy: Thanks! But seriously, the chair has a lot of battens under it. And I can see that the seat has split?
Klaus: Hmm, isn’t that just an added chunk to the seat? A modified chair, as John Brown would call it. We’ve talked about that before.
Rudy: Yes you’re right. This is another modified chair. No split.
Chris: I think this chair would look more balanced without the modification.
Klaus: I agree, Chris. The D-shaped seat is really nice, but the add-on makes the chair lose its proportions.
Rudy: Yes, exactly. Now, the back legs seem to go through the battens, but the front legs…
Chris: Perhaps the modification was added later with the battens helping it along. Anyway, take away that mod, and it appears nicer.
Klaus: How many battens are there?
Chris: I see three battens.
Rudy: I see two wide ones and one turdy one.
Klaus: You find turds everywhere, Rudy.
Rudy: The turd batten™ looks older than the other two.
Chris: Here’s my guess. The two inner battens are original. The legs go through them. The third was to help hold the modified seat on. And it might be missing a batten on the other side.
Rudy: That would make sense. As there are no legs going through them.
Klaus: Yeah, good theory. CSI (Chris Schwarz Investigations) strikes again!
Chris: I think this is a lovely form.
Rudy: It is! But I do agree that the front of the seat shouldn’t be there.
Chris: Take away the modified seat maybe, remove the turd batten™ – and you have a really petite thing.
Klaus: This is a beautiful variant of the vernacular low back chair. Made for comfort and long lasting.
Rudy: The seat is very wide, too.
Klaus: Indeed. Some old vernacular chairs were made to accommodate a certain person. This one was perhaps made for someone with a large behind.
Chris: That armbow – the way it matches the curve of the seat: A+++
Rudy: Yes, I was looking at that arm. A thing of beauty. And quite thick, too.
Chris: What’s the story? Sawn? Branch?
Rudy: Looks pretty continuous to me from the top.
Chris: I agree.
Klaus: I’d say it’s bent, maybe. But if so, that’s a heavy bend.
Chris: I’m going to guess it’s a branch. Too many cathedrals on the top of it.
Klaus: That’s a perfect crook then.
Rudy: A natural defect on the back, too.
Chris: That implies a small branch to me. And bending a piece with that sort of defect seems daft.
Klaus: Good points. I rest my case.
Rudy: Is that a small under bevel on the arm?
Klaus: Seems like it.
Chris: Maybe. I love how the arm and seat match. Very Welsh-ish to me.
Klaus: Yes, this maker knew his stuff.
Chris: Look how worn the back of the seat is. Bugs. Repairs. And I am guessing that its thinness is why we have those big battens.
Rudy: It looks like it is a pine seat?
Klaus: The dealer says ash. Which was very common for Welsh chairs.
Chris: Pine seats are more common in Ireland. And wood types are hard to call with photos. It takes a good eye. I usually don’t even guess.
Klaus: And with 200 years of farts and paint it becomes even more difficult.
Rudy: Wet farts, this one. Look at the mangled back portion of the seat.
Chris: I love how the armbow is pegged to the sticks. All the way around.
Rudy: Yes, that is a very nice feature!
Chris: Also. Very little rake and splay here.
Rudy: Yeah, I guess because the chair is so wide the maker thought he could get away with it.
Klaus: Looks like that indentation in the arm is the same as the in the back of the seat. Could they be from the same piece and perhaps explain their perfect match?
Chris: I think they are from different trees.
Klaus: How come?
Chris: If the arm is a branch, it would not have been attached to a plank like the seat.
Rudy: Yes, the seat being a flat board and the arm a branch. Two different pieces, one wide and one thin.
Chris: I think the indentation on the seat is bark. Typical underbevel.
Klaus: Chris, sometimes you’re so clever! Often, I mean.
Chris: Usually I’m dumb as a rock.
Klaus: Me too. That’s why you seem so clever to me.
Chris: One last thing I adore about this stool: The way the legs transition from facets to smooth. Very much a shaved look.
Klaus: Ooh, that’s nice. I didn’t see that until now. I’ve actually never seen that before on other chairs. They’re octagonal at first and then smooth out towards the floor. That’s super nice.
Rudy: Neither have I! I love the sticks too. They are very balanced.
Chris: I like this one a lot (especially pretending the modification isn’t there). OFF WITH THE MOD!!!!
Rudy: Burn the WITCH!
Chris: Free your stool from the tyranny of the mod!!!!!
Klaus: Haha. Well, alrighty then, we should move on to the next chair!
Chris: Rudy, you want to go next? Or should I?
Klaus: You can decide with “stone scissor rocks?” Uh, what’s it called again. Stone, scissor…
Klaus: Stone rocks turd!
Chris: Turd covers stone!
Rudy: Turd fart jokes.
Klaus: Turd definitely covers stone!
Chris: Scissors cut turd!
Rudy: Paper wipes turd!
Chris: OK. I’ll go next!