mission style

Mission Style

In the United states today several related styles have been lumped together under the title of  “Mission style furniture”. Actual Mission furniture comes from the Spanish missions of the American southwest and northern Mexico and is a more rustic type of furniture than is what most people today call mission.

Southwest mission chair

“The early part of the twentieth century witnessed a design revolution inspired by the Arts and Crafts philosophy of William Morris, who reacted against dehumanized industrial production to create an aesthetic based on simplicity, honesty, and artisanship. In Europe and North America, architects and furniture designers took Morris’s ideals to heart. But while Morris looked to medieval British tradition for inspiration, American designers like Frank Lloyd Wright, Gustav Stickley and Elbert Hubbard drew on homegrown materials and motifs.”1  One result of this regional focus was the Mission style, which combined Arts and Crafts principles with elements taken from the Spanish mission furniture of the American Southwest.

This is a group of pieces all brought in by the same customer. All the pieces had loose joints and needed to be re-glued . The chair had a broken arm with a small piece of wood missing. The chair, the stool, the rocking chair and the settee all needed new upholstery. The customer wanted to maintain the aged look of the pieces so wanted the finishes rejuvenated not refinished.

This is how I dealt with the finish on all the pieces.

1. Remove loose dirt with compressed air. Remove water soluble dirt with cloth dampened with TSP and water. Remove oil based dirt and wax with cloth dampened with mineral spirits. Caution sometimes mineral spirits will cause shellac to blush [white haze on surface] if this happens switch to turpentine. Any areas that don’t appear clean at this point are cleaned with Kotton Klenser and steel wool. Caution KK will dissolve and remove some finishes be careful.

2. Remove any paint specks or scuffs of paint with single edge razor blade and dental picks. Caution just remove paint not the finish.

3. When all the pieces were clean and paint free they all received a seal coat of thin shellac. The shellac does two things, it seals the finish but more importantly it lets you see the piece as it will look after the final finish is applied. You can see clearly any areas of missing, chipped, faded or poor color.

4. Any areas in need are now in-colored with dye or earth pigments in shellac.

5. Because all the pieces were to be used in the same room I used some dye toners to make them all blend together and match better.

6. Next they all were sealed again with thin shellac and polished. Then upholstered.

This is the  chair  before the finish work but after the arm was repaired you can see where a piece was glued in on the arm.

Arm repaired

This is the chair and stool finished.

Chair and stool after

This is the rocking chair as received. You can see joint separation in the lower right and that it is not upholstered properly.

Rocking chair before

Here it is finished.

Rocking chair after

Here you see the settee with a chip missing from the upper left arm [left in photo].

Settee before

  • Settee after

Book shelf and Hall tree

1.: artsparx home improvement, period and historic design style archive

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