Sunday, January 22, 2012

Finally back to Heywood Wakefield refinishing, well sort of...and some breaking news...

I was hoping to get started on some blonde H/W modern line pieces I've had just waiting for my attention especially the king size storage headboard! I hear them calling to me but I had one? last project sitting in my front room that required some TLC that would likely take less time and I need some upholstered pieces soon. More on the "need" thing later, but here is one of the project pieces we picked up awhile back on the "stuffed van" road trip.

The frame on this particular Heywood Wakefield "Ashcraft" 3 piece sectional was actually in "pretty" good shape. The owner alluded to the fact that one of the cushions was tattered and we would only have to redo the one. Well, maybe not! If they were all intact I might have considered letting someone else choose their own fabric but one was badly ripped. Off to my pro upholstery friends they went for some new clothes! I actually liked the original fabric but could not find something reasonable enough to match...
Now about the frame work and a bit of history for those unfamiliar with the Ashcraft line...

The one singular reason that the Ashcraft line was developed by H/W was their lack of access to bamboo and rattan post WW2. The original Wakefield company was more or less exclusively a wicker bamboo, and rattan enterprise. The Heywood Chair company centered it's attention on chairs and case goods for the home. Early examples of the wicker work are still being sold on the auctions sites under the H/W name after the companies combined in 1826. The company made everyhing from baby carriages to bus and theatre seats over the years. If you are a big colonial style furniture fan you can pick up some great deals either locally or online on some of the best constructed furniture you will ever own. Demand is iffy and depends on specific buyers preference.
I've reworked and refinsihed some Ashcraft pieces over the years and in retrospect have learned less is better and this is one great example!
The Ashcraft line actually has no bamboo or rattan componets in it's constuction. Although very well constucted, this line is composed of bent ash wood with a twisted craft paper to replicate the rattan wraps and burn marks on the ash to replicate the bamboo appearance. Ash is much less forgiving than birch in trying to be bent as is evident in many of the Ashcraft pieces I've come across. It tends to splinter away over the years of abuse and that was evident in this particular piece of sectional. The paper wraps also tend to take a beating over time.
I searched long and hard to find something to replicate the look of the original wraps and finally found an older gentleman in town that had been doing caning and rattan work for many years and he had a rather large spool of craft paper wrap that he had no use for that he sold me for a really reasonable price. This needs to be soaked for a bit to make it compliant enough to work with.
I glued the shattered ash back in place and rewrapped with a few more turns than original over the frame and although not "original" this fix should take care of any further issues and come close enough that someone else may actually find attractive...
I'm still working on this whole process as I love trying to get every piece as close to original as I can and the Ashcraft pieces are an on going experiment. I stained the wraps after drying with a golden oak stain and have finished off with an application of brushed on urethane. In hindsight, I probably should have passed on the stain and just hit the wraps sans the stain as they turned out darker than expected.

As I'm not about to start the process over, I think any customer will be happy with the final results. I'll get some finished pics up after the newly clothed seats and backs come home.
If you've managed to slog through this post to this point, I have some good news about A Modern Line going forward. We have been partnered for the last year with an interior designer on our current retail location @ Kaleidoscope for the home here in the Seminole Heights neighborhood of Tampa with a rather large mix of furniture, art, lighting and accesories thay were not neccessarily MCM specific and more attuned to the design trade. That's about to change soon and I will cover more completely in the next post...Thanks for taking a look!


  1. Great job repairing the Ashcraft sectional. We sold a pair of Ashcraft step tables to a dealer friend of ours, and he still has them at $199 for the pair.

    Can't wait to hear your big news!

    1. Change is good and it's going to get better for our local MCM fans very soon. I'll try and get some pics up on an Ashcraft bar and stools I reworked and sold some time ago. It was a major transformation...