I got some photos back from my photographer of a reproduction chair I made for a collector in Kentucky, who owns the original of this chair. It is the only signed Windsor chair from KY known to exist, made near Lexington KY between about 1810 and 1830. The old chair has faded to dark brown, so he wanted a copy that looks new.
Pretty bright! The base color was vermilion made from mercury; I used a modern version of the color which closely approximates it.
Windsor chairs were painted in oil paints, showing brush strokes and uneven pigment grinding (there is little or no evidence that milk paint was painted on anything in pre-industrial America, chairs or otherwise).
This chair got a high-end paint job, complete with gold leaf.
The striping was done in chrome yellow, a bright new pigment in the early 19th century.
I roughed the parts with a hatchet then turned them on a pole lathe. Tool marks like this hatchet mark are common on old chairs – the original of this chair has an enormous drawknife-torn gully down the front of one of the posts. Such large “mistakes” are incredibly hard for us moderns to duplicate; having spent the last 20 years learning how to avoid these tool marks, it’s really hard to force my mind to embrace them.
This was a really fun job, an opportunity to learn more about period paints and chairmaking techniques.