Mother Earth Living


Reuse, Recycle and Reupholster Your Old Furniture

Traditional upholstery techniques stuff new life into old furniture.



Tattered and torn after decades of use, this Victorian rocker was given a facelift with hand-dyed hemp-silk fabric, natural padding and traditional upholstery techniques.
Photography By Joe Coca
Tattered and torn after decades of use, this Victorian rocker was given a facelift with hand-dyed hemp-silk fabric, natural padding and traditional upholstery techniques.
Photography By Joe Coca
2. Spring height, location, and number of springs affect the ­firmness of the seat. To preserve the feel of the old chair, the original coil springs are stapled to fresh jute webbing, then laced together with twine.
Photography By Joe Coca
1. Starting with a solid wood skeleton, upholsterer Tim Newman makes minor repairs to the frame and finish.
Photography By Joe Coca
3. The springs are hand-tied to prevent shifting and so that they function as a single support before being hidden beneath a layer of burlap. The burlap establishes the seat’s shape and separates the springs from the padding. Newman sews a small pocket to the front edge to add a lip to the seat’s front.
Photography By Joe Coca
4. Lining fabric serves to further consolidate the shape before the finishing cover is attached. Newman placed hand-dyed silk over muslin. Like the seat, the chair’s back starts with a jute foundation before the springs and additional layers of hair and cotton batting are added.
Photography By Joe Coca
3. Adding color to the silk is not much different than dyeing Easter eggs. Working with an old stockpot, Gail Denton stirs the fabric in the dye to establish the base color.
Photography By Joe Coca
5. Newman pulls the silk finish cover over the completed seat and tacks it to the edges of the frame. Tacks and staples are hidden beneath matching fabric edging.
Photography By Joe Coca
1. Natural pigments produce vibrant colors that are colorfast and nontoxic to both harvesters and homeowners.
Photography By Joe Coca
2. For this project, the artisans used quebracho, a red pigment harvested from the bark of certain rainforest trees, and cochineal, another red made from cactus-dwelling insects that live in the deserts of Mexico, Chile, and Peru.
Photography By Joe Coca
4. Donna Brown stirs up a gloppy rice paste.
Photography By Joe Coca
6. The dried paste will shield the underlying cloth from additional dyes.
Photography By Joe Coca
5. The paste is applied to the fabric using leaf-shaped stencils.
Photography By Joe Coca
Tattered and torn after decades of use, this Victorian rocker was given a facelift with hand-dyed hemp-silk fabric, natural padding and traditional upholstery techniques.
Photography By Joe Coca
Tattered and torn after decades of use, this Victorian rocker was given a facelift with hand-dyed hemp-silk fabric, natural padding and traditional upholstery techniques.
Photography By Joe Coca
Tattered and torn after decades of use, this Victorian rocker was given a facelift with hand-dyed hemp-silk fabric, natural padding and traditional upholstery techniques.
Photography By Joe Coca











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