By John Porritt
One aspect of furniture finishing that has not been fully explained is how to achieve the gently worn, warm and human surfaces that you find on antiques. "The Belligerent Finisher" changes that. Furniture restorer and chairmaker John Porritt explains all the steps in taking a new chair and transforming it into something that looks like it’s 200 years old. The goal is not to produce fakes, but instead to create a finish that looks correct for pieces built on antique patterns.
Sure, there are lots of people who “age” furniture by thrashing it with heavy chains and burying it in a dung pile. But their furniture looks simply damaged (at best) and not believable (at worst).
Porritt, who works from a small red barn in upstate New York, has been at his trade for many decades, and his eye for color and patina is outstanding. We’ve seen many examples of his work, and it is impressive because you cannot tell that any repair or restoration has been done.
His techniques are simple and use (mostly) everyday objects and chemicals – a pot scrubber, a deer antler, vinegar and tea. How you apply these tools – with a wee bit of belligerence – is what’s important.
The book is lavishly illustrated with color photos that clearly explain the process. With the help of this book, you'll be able to fool at least some of the people some of the time with your own "aged" finishes.
You can visit John's website here.
"The Belligerent Finisher" is 98 pages with a laminated softcover, and a sewn and glued spine for longevity. Like all Lost Art Press Books, it is printed and bound in the United States.
Why Add Age to a Chair? 1
Tools for Adding Age 6
The Black Chair: Boackstool No. 1 19
The Green Chair: Backstool No. 2 39
Gallery of Chairs 65
Chemical & Glue Notes 93
About the Author 95
Select Bibliography 96
About the Author
John Porritt has worked with wood since childhood, making little boats of elder to sail on the Hampshire streams and constructing bows and arrows to play with in the woods. His initial training was at Stokecroft Arts in North London in the mid 1970s, followed by six months of carpentry instruction at the government skill center in Sittingbourne, Kent. He then attended Shrewsbury college of Arts and Technology where he studied fine furniture making with John Price (who trained with Edward Barnsley in the Arts & Crafts furniture tradition). Since 1980, Porritt has been self-employed, initially as a designer/maker then gravitating to furniture restoration, finishing and chairmaking. Having moved with his family to upstate New York in 2008, Porritt has been making his living restoring antique tools and furniture, giving talks and occasionally making a new piece. His fascination with Welsh stick chairs comes from their diversity and direct use of materials. He loves the idea that some of these Welsh chairs feels as if they are half out of the hedge.