TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Guest Artist: Jeanne Connolly of Vintage Renewal

Vintagerenewal.com is a green online furniture boutique specializing in blending both classic and modern furniture and fabrics to create wonderfully unique upholstered art pieces. Vintage Renewal is based in Denver and works as a one-woman-show in a wonderful art studio downtown called The Other Side Arts. My boutique idea began through the sheer love of renewing and repurposing other people’s furniture castaways, coupled with an absolute obsession with vintage fabrics. I am also inspired by fashion styles of past decades, current trends, different cultures, antique furniture, and vintage craft books. I look for frames or existing objects that can be recovered and are given a new lease on life. I am proud to say that I practice green upholstery design.

What do I mean when I say, “green upholstery design”? It’s simple; the very act of recovering an existing frame is a green act in itself! There are so many wonderful vintage furniture castaways in thrift stores, on Craig’s list, at estate sales, and even free in alleys that are dying at a second chance to be in vogue again. I look for pieces with great lines when shopping for my furniture boutique. I simply ignore whatever ugly upholstery and unattractive paint colors they might have when I search for a great vintage piece to revamp. This can all be changed later on. It’s very easy to restyle or redesign a chair once I find a piece that I love. By using some creativity, I can plump up different areas of the chair or stool by adding or removing cotton and restyle the cushion or remove an ugly outdated skirt for a fresh new look. To continue being green when stripping the chair down to its basic frame, I look for anything that can be reused inside. The springs are usually salvageable and just need to be rebuilt and retied for many more years of life. The foam can come back to life in most cases by using an industrial steamer to steam the life back into it. It actually rises up right in front of my eyes! If it doesn’t rise up, than it’s time to replace it with a new piece.

Most vintage frames can be re-glued if they are wobbly and need some stabilizing. Once I have a sturdy frame and a strong core I can have some fun.

My next green step is to shop for vintage fabric or recycled fabric to cover our existing frame. There are many places to find these goodies right under our noses. Some resources are etsy.com, ebay.com, local thrift stores and estate sales. I don’t just stop at uncut fabric when I search online or in thrift stores. I like to get creative and find fabric scraps that can be patch-worked together like in this piece:

Or a great pair of vintage drapes can be repurposed like this piece (the gold part used to be a pair of drapes):

Finally, I never forget about cool vintage bedspreads. This was one of my first pieces and is a good example (back view shown):

Here's an example of one of my re-styling makeovers:



The owner and sole operator of Vintage Renewal is Jeanne Connolly, Upholstery Artist and Designer. At this time Vintage Renewal does not do custom work since I find most joy in the designing and restyling of my own found objects. I do hope that you continue to visit me online as I add new pieces to my websites monthly. Visit me at
www.vintagerenewal.com or www.vintagerenewal.etsy.com for many more green upholstery designs. Shipping is free for all Vintage Renewal pieces, so log on today!

Vintage Renewal is also a member of Fiber Focus on Ning.

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