Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Creating a "Mock Empress Throne" for the Virginia Museum!!!

I was commissioned recently by the VMFA 
(Virginia Museum of Fine Arts)
to create a mock "empress' throne" 
as an interactive tie-in to the current Forbidden City exhibit.

How does one go about making an empress's throne?
I had no idea, 
but I immediately said YES,
certainly I can do that!

 Step one was doing a little photo research:

And step two,
hitting my handy-dandy chocked-full-of-stuff garage,
where I found these items:
An old tattered upholstered empire bench...
Some ornate drapery finials.
And old oak mirror frame.
Some curvy mirror harps…(I think…)
So I made up a little sketch to present to the VMFA folks…
and showed them photos of the elements I had available.
We decided the bench might be too narrow, 
but otherwise, they liked my direction.
 So here I go,
my first empress couch!
For the base I ended up using this heavy,
and very sturdy coffee table.

(I don't want this thing to tip over!)

A trip to a discount house goods store yielded these decorative
wooden hook racks, and a mustard yellow velour throw.

Playtime begins…
experimenting on how to put all these elements
together….I removed the hooks and used those

decorative pieces for the legs.
I found this decorative molding on a broken mirror in the trash. Perfect!
Oh yeah, I see it coming together…
I jigsawed the sides of the plywood to follow the curved pieces.
 More play…with textiles...
 Once I figured out my design, 
I started painting. I used
blacks, deep grays, and some red.
Same for the other pieces...
 And the coffee table...
 I decoupaged a cutout of a dragon on the bottom shelf.
To "plush up" the back, I adding a layering of batting,
and then this chinese red fabric from a skirt I purchased
at a thrift store.
Then I screwed the decorative molding into
the batting, to give it more dimension.
 I added some decorative trim that matches the cushion fabric.
After painting all the pieces and putting them together,
I stained everything with a deep jacobean stain.
This simulates a lacquered finish.
Coming together!!!
And from a discarded chinese lantern, 
I pulled off these little dragons with tassels.
I attached them to either side of the top.
And finally the finials need to be added, and painted/stained.
One last added purchase:
This bright red decorative dragon.
  I screwed it into the bottom shelf
just behind the decoupaged element.
And here it is:
The throne of thrones….
(Sorry for the crappy photos…such a bummer
I never got better ones of the finished piece together!!)
Word is, 
the throne is still on display at
Fat Dragon Restaurant on Boulevard.
(Thanks for posing, Lillian!)

Suddenly I have a craving for some crispy egg rolls..

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