This is the final post in a three post entry on the Grove Park Inn’s Vanity Chair. Read the first post, The Grove Park Inn’s Vanity Chair, and the second post, The Grove Park Inn’s Vanity Chair, Part II.
With a thorough understanding of how the chair was originally constructed and repaired I was able to restore the chair’s frame to a structurally-sound condition by repairing and restoring the original spiral grooved dowel joinery. The mortise and tenon joinery used to house the chair back’s vertical slats required no repair or restoration.
With the discovery of an original vanity chair woven rattan seat, it was easy to have it reproduced.
The bigger challenge in restoring the chair was selecting the finish. I consulted several Arts and Crafts antique dealers and scholars to try to determine the original finish. The popular consensus was that the original finish was most likely a variation of shellac and paste wax, so that is what was applied.
Kevin Tucker, in his recently published book, Gustav Stickley and The American Arts & Crafts Movement, writes about how Stickley dealt with the ongoing struggle within the American Arts and Crafts Movement to reconcile the philosophies of an artistic and social movement that called for individual hand-made furniture using local materials and remaining respectful of the designers/artists’ vision with the reality that factory production was necessary to achieve the pricing and market-demands that existed in America. The vanity chair is an excellent example of how these two opposing forces were balanced. The joinery x-rays and images of disassembled joints boldly pronounce the vanity chair’s factory-produced roots, while it outwardly embodies the simplicity, honesty, and strength of well designed Mission furniture.