The Early Chairs.
The turnings are simple, elegant and under stated. The seat slab is 50mm thick and is contoured to the body. The arm is formed from a bent branch split, trimmed to the correct curve and scarf jointed at the back. The back is formed with between 7 and 11 spindles or spars, never tapered, brought through the arm and let into a head rail. The seat is angled back for comfort and the back further angled to provide optimum sitting position. Small pegs are used to ensure the critical joints remain tight. These chairs had an early varnish which over the years has deteriorated to black.

Detail of a typical arm pillar ca. 1860

The Intermediate Chairs.

The front arm pillars have more elaborate turnings almost presaging the onset of the Victorian Fashions. The leg turnings remain simple.

The Victorian Chairs.
The ornate front arm pillar becomes the norm and the leg turnings become more complex. The latest finish of Button Shellac becomes the standard. Pegging joints is no longer practised. The seat slabs are left flat. More and more have arm bows cut from the plank rather than from a branch. The necessary increase in thickness loses much of the original elegance. The number of spars stabilises at 10.

A Bobbin Chair and detail of a leg.

The Bobbin Chairs.
This is the poor mans 'Barley Twist' which judging by the number made was very popular. It seems to have been a common decoration as other pieces of furniture were made using this idiom. One chair actually had the back spars shaped as well.

Two details of high Victorian style arm pillars.

The High Victorian
The ultimate in Victorian fashion, the decorative turnings become more formal and very well executed.

The Evolution of the Darvel Chair

A replica of a Sheilds' chair ca. 1880.

A replica McMath chair ca. 1820.