Design a Chair

hi I'm Julia hood and I'm the manager of school and family learning at Renault the House Museum of American Art today for our pop-up studio we are going to explore how everyday materials things that you might even see as junk can become art materials so the idea is for you to look around where you live and see what materials you can find and then turn them into a tiny share so as an example this tiny chair was made from packing foam and toothpicks this one came from cutting up an egg carton and then using a toothpick in the back to support it and then this last chair uses a very classic material for making tiny chairs which is the champagne cage that goes on top of a champagne bottle when you cut away the bottom wire bit you end up with four legs and a seat we've added raffia to the seat here and then a pipe cleaner back so in your design process there's gonna be trial and error maybe the first way that you try to put some materials together doesn't work if so just keep trying different solutions until you get it to work this is what artists and designers do so today I'm going to show you some suggestions for tools and materials that you might use for creating chairs and I'll show you a few ideas just to get you started then when you make a chair if you'd like to share any pictures of it on Twitter or Facebook or Instagram you can use this hashtag to share it let's get started

for this project I recommend gathering tools like scissors a pencil and a ruler if you have wire pipe cleaners or champagne cages you'll need wire Clippers and pliers I also have an awl in this picture but all's our icepick should only be used with adult supervision and assistance gather various things you might use to connect your items suggestions include tape glue string and wire if you're using foam or old pool noodles toothpicks will make a perfect connector if you will use fabric to embellish your chairs find a needle and thread and be careful with a sharp point for your chair making supplies see what you can find cardboard egg cartons foam pipe cleaners corks spools from thread yogurt cups office supplies and fabric are all possible options you might also want to decorate your chairs look for things like paint markers beads buttons and ribbon

this chair idea requires two pieces of foam and toothpicks simply connect a seat in the back by pushing a toothpick through two pieces of foam then cut or break a toothpick to make two additional legs of the same length this chair idea involves an empty spool a button a scrap of fabric and a pipe cleaner start by gluing fabric around the button and use a clamp or binder clip to hold it while it dries this can make a round cushion for any chair see what kind of back you can make by using a pipe cleaner wrapped partially around the spool I found it helpful to secure the pipe cleaner to itself by twisting the pipe cleaner end around the part that turned up to become the back you can glue the seat down or keep it removable like a cushion if you have the good fortune to find a wire cage that holds the cork on for a beverage like bubbly non-alcoholic grape juice or Prosecco or champagne you have a great start to a miniature chair there are ways to remove the bottom wire so that you can use it to then create a chair back but here I'm just cutting this one off with wire cutters do not attempt to cut wire with scissors or you will mess up your scissors some wire cages will have a metal cap that you can leave in place for a seat or remove it for this seat I wrapped raffia around the scene area to make it look like rush or caning I tied it around the legs to hold it in place

for the back I used a pipe cleaner again cutting it only with wire cutters not scissors if a wire is not connecting as you would like it see if you can get it tighter by twisting it around itself

try to see what different sorts of chairs you can make out of an egg carton for this chair I cut a tab out of the side of one cup and made a slit in the top of another I then fit the tab into the slit to connect two pieces to get the back to stand up I suck a toothpick in the back for support here's a pretty wacky chair idea that just shows an example of how you might play around with unusual materials and unusual connectors I have a bottle cap and some binder clips foam fabric and a needle and thread if I had hot glue would have been helpful but for a temporary connection you're gonna see me use some masking tape I want to put a cushion on what would be the headrest of this chair so I'm cutting a circle out of foam which I'll then wrap with fabric and stitch in place you can be precise and measure or just eyeball it

to get the fabric to fit around the foam I'm making several long stitches in a large circle larger than the piece of foam then I put the foam inside the circle of stitches and gently pull both ends of the thread see how the fabric bunches up around the foam then I carefully cut off the extra fabric being careful not to cut my needle and thread off and then use the remainder to stick through the back of the binder clip then I sew it in place for this final chair I made it with cardboard tape to floss containers and the dispensers inside and then washi tape for decoration these are just some ideas what chairs can you make check out the links below for an online gallery of chairs in Rijn oldest furnishings and art and a printable pdf version of instructions with other information

In the latest Pop-Up Studio episode, take inspiration from all around (or underneath) you! The wide variety of chair styles at Reynolda are made with familiar materials like wood and fabric, but in this activity, you’re invited to make your own miniature version with household materials.

To see some chairs in Reynolda’s collection, explore this online gallery.

Reynolda revealed video series

See all videos

From the 1910s to the late 1950s, the segregated community of Five Row was home to Reynolda’s African American farm workers and their families.

Watch Now

A new type of Southern woman, Katharine Reynolds combined the traditional role of wife and mother with progressive practices on healthy living, education, and agricultural reform.

Watch Now