MUSICAL CHAIRS

Installing the new exterior door created some glider movement.  Now that there are so many here, and considering what I have to pay per quart to clear coat them, a little triage is in order.

Although this glider works well, it has some bumps and bruises.  It used to also have a prime location on the front porch.  Now, not.

It has moved to be with the group under the big oak tree.

All the chairs and the glider to the left of the picture can stay outside.  They have all had the clear coat treatment, even the one on the new little deck.  The pair there still have original paint.

The wonky wooden bannister gracing the little deck is getting so tiring to look at.

Glenn made these two bannisters this past summer.  When he gets the time, something on this order will be on our back deck.

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EXTERIOR DOOR

Less work is required if you do two things at once.  As always, new gliders have to be integrated into the landscape both natural and architectural.  This activity is ongoing as there is always more lawn furniture to be had.  Concurrently,  I am making new gardens around the new addition to our old farmhouse.

For years I used an old door native to this house but unused in the house, as a dining room table.  Then that dining room turned into a bedroom for about a year.  The door was shuffled out to the barn.

The other day when sitting and gliding and sensing the new garden space, it occurred to me that that door could be used as a spot of interest in the new garden, which is adjacent to our front porch.  It happens to be red on one side, and I want to include lots of red in the new garden to highlight a red line which resides at the base of our front porch.

Here is the situation of the new garden.  Very blank canvas.  A satellite dish that will be a small pond has been put up on cinder blocks which are hidden by fallen tree trunks.  Cotoneaster has been planted to the left of this image, down the side of the new addition.

The ones here are babies that were pulled from another garden.  A goal for this garden is to use only stuff that has been propagated here.

In the space behind the single lawn chairs will be a pattern of dwarf nandina which gets very red in the winter, and a pyracantha that was propagated this past summer.  I am amazed as it started getting new leaves this fall, and continues now.  This stuff I will plant today.

Second job accomplished?  With the new door in red, and the red line under the porch, we found the perfect place for Ruth’s glider, which at this point isn’t going to be changed, paintwise.  Ruth and my niece gave it its happy paint job.  Since we used the red side of the door on the porch side, we probably will paint the other side for the garden.

THE GLIDER FROM RUTH

This fine glider is en route to me right now.  It is riding with an old jeep body and some tines from an old hay rake.  A fine load of rust is slowly making its way to the eastern time zone.   The glider belonged to an “outlaw” of mine, and none of the children wanted it; my sister is her daughter in law.

The word “outlaw” can be descriptive of three kinds of relationships.  The first is an in law of someone in your immediate family.  Like Ruth.  We see each other at family gatherings.  Since we do not live in the same area (which is the reason the glider has to be “en route”, and that tag is good for about fourteen hours) when we do see each other, it is at holidays mostly.  Feels like family.

Another use of the word applies to former family, now not family because of divorce.  Again, all the family socialization has taken place, but the bond is now gone.  Outlaw.

The third use, and the one first applied to me is the new wife of a brother in law by the sisters of the deceased wife.

This is such a good way to describe these kinds of relationships that I was surprised when doing a quick check with on line dictionaries, that this word has not been attributed to having an alternate meaning like the one described here.  As we know, in English, we can use the same word for all kinds of meanings.  Think about “cleave”.  Or “sanctioned”.  Love that one!

Having just finished “Death Comes to Pemberly” by PD James, and of course, one must have read Jane Austin’s “Pride and Prejudice” to get the full meaning of that book,  I was struck by one of the pivotal ideas put forth in the older book.  That is when one marries, the person we would call a “sister in law” is called simply “sister”.  The pain of Darcy in the James book is to acknowledge that the complicated Wickham is his brother (and in former, happier times the two boys did operate as brothers) rather than some person known, but removed from his circle for some time.

Perhaps that is why within the years between the early 19th century and now, the “in-law” has come to pass.  It is a more specific label.  And this is why I nominate the phrase “outlaw” to further specify a relationship.

Said glider can today be accused of creating the worst gas mileage across Illinois to the deep south due to its acting like a sail on the trailer.  Still worth it.

GOOD BONES

A little crazy recently about clear coating most of our collection of old lawn chairs and gliders, I have been spending too much time with a wood chisel eliminating dense and easy rust for the upcoming application.

Playing mind games while working and wondering why these old chairs mean so much to me, I thought about other collections, including those of my husband.  He wears a fedora (has many), listens to music from the forties and collects old suitcases, and loves old trucks both toy and not.   I have collected old dinette sets, hammered aluminum tableware, those multi colored aluminum tumblers, aluminum chairs from WW II submarines, and gawd knows what else.

As a child, we did not own those tumblers.  Or hammered aluminum.  But they are very evocative and comforting to me.

Andy Warhol put frames around mundane things to elevate them to symbolism.  Could the things themselves be canvases?

We did have a dinette set.  You know the ones.  Tubular, sometimes with a great insert that tucks away underneath, and always with that pattern.  This pattern is stunning to me as it is so evocative of my youth.

I  stared down this surface every day while waiting for my Chef Boyardee or Cream of Wheat.  I ended up going into a field of art that is totally organized around pattern.  Pattern, the way to understand the world.  Pattern, my comfort.

In art history class, in discussion about non-objective or non-representational art work, I urged the students to forget about the “middle man” of subject matter, and and to look at this work as representative of pure emotion.  You don’t have to paint, for example, a man being sad to express sadness.  You can simply paint the sadness.  The pure emotional form.

Now, working on these old chairs, the question is whether or not these chairs could be a canvas on which emotion can be layered.  Their shape is evocative, their layers of paint are history.  Can I modify these surfaces at will and make an artistic statement?

PRESERVING THE SURFACES OF OLD LAWN CHAIRS

The chair on the left has been clear coated with very strong and very expensive hazardous polymer.  I waited a long time for a quart of this, and it arrived with special devices on the cap to assure that it would not open in delivery, and special warnings about flammability and application.

I bought these chairs and glider a couple of weeks ago, and the rust patterns were so fine.  It is their old design and look of use that draws me to these.  Most of my gliders and chairs look like this, but most are on porches with roofs.  Wanting to put this group outside in the new garden, I finally did some research and found a product that would allow this with hopefully no more rusting.

My husband belongs to an old truck club and gets a monthly magazine, and on the front one time was this same kind of surface on a restored truck.  The truck of course was in working order, and the surface was saved to show its history.  We have all heard this kind of advice from the experts on “Antiques Roadshow” and the like.

I scraped off all the loose rust on these chairs.  Often, the nuts and bolts have been painted over at least once, and care must be taken to pry all that out.  I used a wood chisel, and my husband feels I should ask forgiveness from the universe for using this tool in this application.  Amen.

This product cost $44 for a quart. Buy it at an auto paint store.  Let me give you the benefit of my mistake.  You must use all of this quart at the same time.  It is valuable, clear, workable and fine when first opened.  I used half of this intending to use the rest the next day.  Not so easy.  By the time I set to work again, even with careful hammering of the lid back on the can after the first use, the substance was already marching towards solidity.  I spread what could be spread, and then had to trash the rest, which killed me.

For the forty four dollars, and being lazy, I got five chairs finished totally, and parts of two more.  Next time I will have an abundance of chairs ready for treatment.

The above chairs got the new surface.  They are exactly the same chair as the one on the left below. These three are also  now clear coated.  The chair on the right has an aluminum body, and features many layers of paint.  I experimented with creating lines in various places revealing layers of paint underneath.  The surface of the chair now looks like a drawing.

Below is a detail of the chair on the left above.  The same original color is seen peeking out between areas of rust.

SCORE!

I paid more for this group from my local flea market than any other old glider and chairs.  Still it wasn’t near the prices on the web, or our nearest big city, Atlanta.

This glider has been on the front porch for years.  This and the new one were made by the same manufacturer but feature different patterns.  The gliding devices are  identical, and the heaviness of the metal used is greater than other gliders we have here.  On the edges of the arms of these gliders the metal has been folded against itself to make them much stronger.

The whole group of four was in such good shape.  Lately I have been rising to a new consciousness about these rusty surfaces.  Was it only last weekend when we found three chairs in a dumpster?

This chair is finished now, and waiting for clear coat.  Did some research yesterday, and am going to put auto body clear coat on this (and all of them, if it works) to preserve the colors and lines.  A couple days ago we realized this chair is aluminum, save for the tubing.  This is the only aluminum example we have.

Because of my newthink we hauled the group into the greenhouse which is not used for much during the summer.  Some of the rust on the  back sides of these chairs is deep.  That will be scraped off, and the rest preserved.


The support elements for the glider body have been replaced on this one, as the picture reveals.  These must be the weak link in this style.  Years ago when finding the one now on my front porch (at the “solid waste disposal site” as we call them in South Carolina) of course it was free, but had to pay 25.00 to a local welder to fabricate one gliding element.  Still a heck of a deal!

HOW TO RESTORE VINTAGE METAL LAWN/PORCH CHAIRS

Many want to know how to do this, and my husband is helping me to put this information out.  He is the commander of fixing all metal things.  This job is not easy, and it took the best part of a work day.  And my husband is a sculptor who uses metal as a medium.  He has more tools for working with metal than most.

This chair, looking a little different than the normal vintage lawn chair, is one of the rarer ones we own.  It has a Native American flavor in the pressed metal patterned decoration.

Recently, when sitting around the fire,  Glenn slumped gracefully to the ground as the hollow tubing on the chair gave way at the important stress points.  This is the Achilles Heel of these chairs.

A closer look:

Of course the fact that they are outside chairs, made of metal, this kind of thing is going to happen.  I am looking into putting a clear coat for outside and for metal on all our chairs.  Turns out this is not easy to find.  Did some research and have sent an email to a possible vendor.  More later.

Glenn cut the tubing at the rusty stress points and is checking here the proper alignment needed for the fix.  When the chair broke, some tubing was also smashed out of position.  Further, when he started with the oxy-acetylene torch, he found much more rust crumbling away aside from the actual point of breakage.  If these chairs did not have holes in the seat to help drain standing water, people used to tip them up when not in use.  This let the water  settle in the area in the picture above where the breakage occurred. The rust starts on the inside.  So in trying to deal with standing water on a metal chair, the user actually issued the water to the area where it could do the most damage.

Glenn starts with the torch and removes all the rusty crumbly metal.  With the torch, he found many more rusted places other than what was first visible.

He used a metal cutting band saw  and cut a galvanized tube in half to use as replacement metal in the broken areas.  He used this galvanized tube because he had it.  He would have preferred steel.  He was able to weld outside and does not recommend this for inside work.  He said that some may assume that he used galvanized to deal with future rust; the heat application with the welder ruins galvanized pipe for that quality.

Glenn cut out of the half cylinder length of metal the amount needed to replace all the damaged area.  Below the galvanized metal length is being welded to strengthen the bad part of the rusted tube.

Below is one newly minted chair base.

The final picture shows the total replaced base.  With this chair, he had to replace all the base area.  Other chairs needed less.  The new base is very strong and solid, but it in no way looks identical to the original smooth tubing.  This base now needs to be painted with something like Rust-oleum.

CRAYON METAL LAWN CHAIR

This chair is proving to have amazingly strong bones once the excess paint has been removed to reveal its more subtle painted history.

Most of the rust on the bent tubular legs was very superficial.  It could be brushed or shaved off with the rest of the excess paint.  If this area is going to be weak, it will be at the stress points for the tube, where it bends, or where it is attached to the body of the chair.

All four connections to the body of the chair have rust like this.  It is heavier than anywhere else, but not so bad as to effect the strength or the structure.  I want to separate the two pieces so a protective layer of poly can be applied.

How to do this?  My resident expert says that one would use two pairs of vice grips, and usually the rusty nut and bolt will break.  This is what you want.  Then you can clean up the rust and insert a new nut and bolt.

Above is an example of weakening steel to the point of breakage.  More than once one of us has slowly floated ground-ward as weakening chairs finally bit the dust.

Above is a different chair that has been repaired.  My husband used a high speed wire brush on an angle grinder to clean out all the weak rusty areas.  With an oxy-acetylene welder, he took replacement steel in a flat sheet, and welded the new into place.  He said that the act of using the welder will identify and destroy more of the rust not seen before.  The heat of the welding will help you curve the plane of steel into the necessary tube shape.  The final step is to apply something like Rustoleum to the new section to assure that what happened in the weather before will not happen again.

And remember those holes.  I am going to add some to all my chairs that don’t have them.  Water is the enemy!

KEEPING MY GLIDER AESTHETIC

Having found three metal lawn chairs in a dumpster last weekend, a new problem has been presented.  Most of my chairs are rusty and show their history, and I like it that way.

These recent “finds” are different from my norm.  The paint, especially the last green layer is incredibly thick.  What lies underneath the thick peeling paint is rust in some cases.  Working on the chair on the right, which is in the best shape of the group, it has a composition on the back unlike any that we have.  Three holes were uncovered on the seat.  They are very important for the life of the chair,  and had been painted over many times.  These chairs, living outside, need ammunition to battle water and rust.

Pictured above is a typical chair in our collection—it is in good shape, the paint is nicely weathered, but not peeling in any way.  If there is rust, it is superficial.

When thinking about the three new chairs, images from the web reminded me that another solution for the surface was necessary other than a flat paint job that some consider restoration.

These are fine chairs and have not been restored, but they are in such good shape that in my opinion the flat paint is kind of cartoonish.  Nothing so old would look like this now.  It is as if they are steel maidens looking down at life from the tower.

With my three new chairs, something had to be done or they would be rust piles in a year.  Below is what I am in the process of doing.

I am scraping and revealing all the colors that the chair has been, six, it looks like.  I started with my fingers peeling the paint, and then got serious with a tool (one for wood, as it turns out, a chisel), and made lines in the layers of paint all the way down to the shiny steel.

I love the lines.  The chair looks like a drawing or painting of a chair.  I can see, as more of this is done, that one could actually tailor the lines used to remove the excess paint actually to describe the metal patterning on the back of the chair.  That would certainly unite form and surface.  That is what I will do.

There are four rust spots where the tubes connect to the chair body that have to be taken care of .  Then an application of a clear coat will be in order.  I will post when finished.