Birdcage Windsor Side Chair

This early-19th century style chair is painted with three colors of milk paint.

Paint serves several purposes on traditional Windsors. It highlights the fancy turnings, crests and arms on traditional Windsors and visually unifies the form of the chair. Left unpainted, the grain of the wood distracts the eye from the form. Also, to make the lightest and most elegant chair possible, the woods need to be chosen for their intrinsic qualities. These woods may not look good together, and paint again improves the appearance of the chair.

Milk Paint is a non-toxic finish made from milk protein, lime, clay, and earth pigments. It is extremely thin: every pore and growth-ring of the wood subtly shows through the paint. This is the paint I most often use on my chairs, followed by several coats of shellac. Though an ancient paint, milk paint was rarely used on old chairs, whose paint would often have been thick and the colors fairly bright.

Stories: The building of a handmade chair is a personal process. With the delivery of each chair order, the customer will receive a short story that I wrote about their chair. Each story is a personal memento of the chairmaking process, a moment in the chair's birth, preserved in words.

Some of these stories may be posted on my blog for others to enjoy.

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Made in Hillsborough, NC

By Elia Bizzarri - Hand Tool Woodworking


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