19th Century Chair


MediaWood, Textile
Location The Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center

ICA conservators were pleased to find the original 19th century ornately patterned upholstery fabric on the seat of this painted and gilded side chair, beneath a modern recovering. Because the silk brocade seat cover was too faded and fragile to be openly displayed in an historic setting and a contemporary match could not be found, a digital reproduction of the unusual pattern was proposed.


Tacks were carefully pried from the chair seat rail to release the historic fabric. After a gentle vacuuming through screening and testing for dye fastness the seat cover was wet-cleaned and realigned to shape. An undamaged section of the weave pattern was photographed and “tiles” of the image digitally joined to produce an overall design which could be photographically printed on silk fabric, using light-resistant inks. A section of unexposed original fabric was used as a reference to assure the colors of the new fabric were authentic. After preparing the original upholstery for museum storage, the reproduction fabric was attached to the chair seat using the original tacks, which were concealed by a period-appropriate decorative braid.

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