Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Before & After: Jennifer, the kidlet rocking chair, rocks on!

This kidlet sized rocker became a before & after project when I was out scouring the side streets of my neighbourhood late into the night on the eve of garbage collection a few months ago. Hey, I can admit, I have been known to scour side streets from time to time. How can any honest upcycler not, really? I don't know about where you live, but in my little 1950's neighbourhood there is some AMAZING stuff just waiting for a new life. So, I spotted this little broken rocking chair sitting at the end of one driveway, peeking around someone’s weekly stack of recycling and trashcans and it was perfection; I could not resist. It met all my criteria (fixable within a couple of hours, wooden furniture, and no one was around. Oh, plus I had squealed when i saw it => very key.) So home she came! I must say, it was love at first site.

I had originally named this little piece Dan, but once i turned it over and saw Jennifer scrawled underneath the seat, i knew her name had to be Jennifer.

So please, meet Jennifer, Before:

& Jennifer, After:

Like everyone, my inspiration comes from everywhere, including the piles of magazines strewn around as well as the internet, naturally. This idea, as some of you may recognize, was from an April article in Better Homes & Gardens: 100 Decoration Ideas, and was inspired by the Alphabet Chair. I love the sleek simplicity of the warm white and the subtle letters arranged to fit each smooth side. I loved the size of the kidlet rocker for my sweet nephew who was turning 3 soon! Naturally, I had to give it a try. (See end of post for additional images!)

I first needed my husband, the Bub, and his handy skills to fix a couple of missing dowels and reglue the unglued portions that were making the rocking chair unusable when i found it. Once that was completed and the little chair was ready to rock (sorry, I couldn’t resist) I set to giving it a thorough sanding with my hand sander, and used pieces of sandpaper wrapped around each dowel to sand them.

Since I wasn’t sure how the chipboard and foam stickers I purchased were going to work on primer, I decided to adhere them directly to the sanded wood. Since this was such a small piece with few surfaces that weren’t rounded I decided to only do the back and front of the backrest. Less to pick at for little fingers, was my line of thinking as well. (That’s just what I need. A choking nephew. Thanks Auntie for the choking hazard!) I was also trying to make sure the backrest took on a seamless look, with few edges of the letters sticking up and peeling away as possible. Before attempting the front, I completed and primed the back to see what would happen to the letters. If the foam shrivelled and resisted the primer or the chipboard got soggy and lost all shape I needed to know! Especially before starting the front, the side I imagine most visible.

After 2 coats of spray primer and few signs of peeling I continued to apply the letters to the front portion of the backrest. I had imagined needing to peel off the letters and reapply them with the glue I had bought in preparation for such event, but to my delight the adhesive on the back of chipboard and foam letters seems amazingly substantial. Once I had all the letters adhered, I finished priming the front. Finally, onto my favourite part - the paint part! Heirloom White was what I chose since I really was going for a re-creation of the adult alphabet chair. 2 coats over top (maybe more on the letters themselves) and a perfect membrane had formed over the letters – the foam hardened somewhat and the cardboard fastened strong. Perfect!

I decided to make a little removable cushion with ties from some scrap flannel fabric and polyfill I had stored away, for little bums get sore on wooden chairs, I imagine. I found as I attached this little 9x9” cushion that it might double as a nice little lumbar support cushion as well. Who knows. Removable is key, so I just went with it.

(click to enlarge)

I have to admit when my nephew pointed to it and said “what’s that” and I said “it’s a chair. Guess who made it for you?” and he replied, smiling “auntie?! it’s a ROCKING chair!!! ” and moved the other gift bags in his way so he could have a little sit and a rock, I knew it was perfection. Sweet perfection.

Happy 3rd Birthday buddy!



Red Shoe Artist said...

She's beautiful... I love upcycling. It's amazing what a bit of TLC can do. Thanks for posting this it's very inspirational

mchen said...

Ahhh!!! Super cute (both the chair and the reaction :) You did a terrific job — the letters look so great! Congrats :)

ONE DAY, I will bug you to help me with that old storm window that I want to turn into a mirror. You know, since we both have so much dang free time.

leel said...

@red: thanks for sharing YOUR reaction. upcycling gives me a freaky high, actually. try it!!!

@mchen: thanks for the love :) and anytime! when you feel like tackling that project i'd love to help/do it. and the odds are i'd have most of the stuff to do it already. we have tonnes since the renovation! so, easy peasy!

thanks girls, your comments always make my day :)

Kate said...

Oh my... I love this! You've inspired me to make a little stool for my niece with the wood letters. I have some leftover letters from a previous project, and it's a garage sale day!

Thanks for the comment on my blog, BTW. I'm still new at this and get very excited to see that someone has read what I've written. :-) It's like getting a letter in the mail... that always makes me happy (I am even happier when it is a package full of stuff I just bought on eBay, if we're being honest!)


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