Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Birthday Chair - The History and The How-to

"The History of the Birthday Chair"

I have had to adjust the light, the colour, and the sharpness of these old photos. Most of the pictures were taken on school mornings so it was dark and a flash was used. I don't like flash because it flattens the image, but we wouldn't have had the pictures otherwise!


  This is the very first Birthday Chair.  

I used to decorate with garlands for the kids birthdays but I had the living room and dining room filled with silk flowers for a local mall's "Bridal Fair". I decided to decorate a chair with the silk fabric and the cabbage roses that were going to be used in the display. The roses created a bower that came over, Melissa. I was talking to her about the chair recently and she mentioned that it was magical.


This chair has a desert/cowboy theme. Not all of the chairs were works of art but the chair was there for only the child's birthday and gone the next morning when they got up. It was their chair for their special day.


I was doing freelance window display at the time so I had lots of props. This chair is a magic show. The hand holding the magic wand is a stuffed glove.


Sometimes I would grab what was at hand. I think the theme was celebration but who knows what I had in mind for Micheal's chair!


Robin, our oldest has a September birthday so he would get a lot of autumn themed chairs.


This chair, covered in hand dyed silk and decorated with faux flowers, is asymmetrical. One side of the chair back is higher than the other.


Robin, with another autumn themed chair.

How to make a Birthday Chair.


I use dowel for the basic shape of the finished chair. Masking tape the dowel to the chair back, I prefer an armless chair. Tape a good 12" or so of the dowel so that it is firmly attached to the chair and will not move. It is also possible to use a solid back chair, probably with a lot more tape!


These green curtains are from a booth that I used at craft fairs. I tied the first one hanging down one side so that it would create folds. The next piece of curtain was tied in the same manner on the opposite side. Another curtain was tied underneath the folds of these two curtains to hide the back of the chair. The last curtain was tied over the front of the chair to create a throne-like appearance.

Make certain that the fabric doesn't bunch up on the floor, it should just about touch the ground. The chair needs to be able to be moved and if there is any fabric on the floor at the feet of the chair it may get caught causing the chair to fall. The taller the chair the more impressive but also the more top heavy it may become.


Chartreuse fabric was tied at the top of the chair and then tucked into the folds of the green fabric. Hide all of the knots in the folds of the fabrics.


The purple sari fabric was tied and hung over the top.


Here is a close-up of the fabric knotted together. Fabric normally drapes because of it the way it is constructed but it does not drape into beautiful folds without careful attention on your part. Take hold of the fabric part way down the selvage, bring it up to where you want to knot it and look at the folds, if it isn't full enough go down the selvage another foot or two and take it to the same position. To get those beautiful folds that you want it takes a lot more fabric than you realize.


Here is the fabric pulled back exposing the knots.


All of the fabric is now arranged to hide the knots.


I love fake fur in outrageous colours. The green carpet was on clearance in the baby department at the department store that I worked at. The yellow cushion was in the children's section of the bedding department at the same store.


Voila! The finished "Birthday Chair" fit for a king or queen.

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