Deconstruction and reconstruction of a Victorian sprung upholstered chair


Carved walnut frame; 22 individual upholstery layers including canvas work with glass and metal beads; gimp braid; springs; curled hair filling; cotton and jute cloth.

Condition before treatment

Upholstery structures and every individual layer were very unstable; upholstery profile completely distorted.

Client brief/Role of object

Preserve intact the virtually untouched original upholstery; make condition less vulnerable; do not replace missing elements with new. Required for long term storage and occasional display in museum gallery.


Layers temporarily removed; treatment included surface, wet and solvent cleaning of textile layers; stitched and adhesive supports, spring compression and frame preparation. Conservation techniques also used to reapply upholstery, thus minimising damage to frame and textiles.

Condition after treatment

Upholstery less vulnerable and supported well on the frame, stable enough to fulfil future role; materials and evidence preserved; presented as close as possible to intended appearance.

Further information

Gill, K. 2009. When minimal intervention is not enough: deconstructing and reconstructing a sprung upholstered chair. In: Conservation of three-dimensional textiles. Preprints of the 7th North American Textile Conservation Conference (NATCC), Quebec, Canada, October 2009. [TCC2472]


Reproduced courtesy of The Olive Matthews Collection, Chertsey Museum; object number MT. 4695 and the Textile Conservation Centre, University of Southampton. Textile Conservation Centre, University of Southampton © 2009

Kate Gill, Project Manager, Primary conservator

Treatment completed July 2008