Back to post-and-rung ladderback chairs this week, steam bending the back legs for a new design of chair. The ash was lovely to shave down with the drawknife and bent very easily after about an hour in my steamer.
Actually, this isn’t a new design of chair at all but it’s not seen in the UK. The chair is the style made by Jennie Alexander in her book ‘Make a chair from a tree’, which kicked off the greenwood working revival at the end of the 70’s. If you live in America, this is a very familiar chair as it’s the one taught by Drew Langsner on his chair making courses at Country Workshops but in the UK I’ve never seen one or heard of one being built by a green woodworker. Over here the most common chair designs are those from Mike Abbott’s books (based on chairs made by Philip Clissett in the 19th century) which don’t seem to be made in the US. It’s a lovely looking chair and I’m curious how it feels so I decided to make one to add to my range; I think it will make a terrific office or cafe chair.
The main difference of the Alexander chair is in the back legs. Rather than being curved over their whole length, there is a dramatic bend between the lower and upper slat to give the curve necessary to fit the sitters back. I think this also gives a very clean and stylish look to the chairs and I’m looking forward to seeing how comfortable it will be.