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Newsletter – Summer 2015


Last week’s continuous arm course was the final one before September. During August I have plans to re-organise the workshop and complete a good set of commissions. I also have a new chair in my head that I hope to develop which has some challenging steam bending to sort out. All that will be reported in the next newsletter!

There’s lots to read below and you will find course dates through to the end of March, so why not book up now and have something to look forward to as the days shorten later in the year!

James Mursell

James Mursell

New Course Dates

There are now courses available through to the beginning of April 2016. My full range of course chairs are offered and there’s a weekend stool course in February.

All the courses are available to anyone, whether you have previous experience or not (except the settee – see below).

Please note that the settee course is only available to those that have completed at least one previous course. There is a lot of work to complete the settee and you will need to be confident in your abilities.September 7-11  Sack-back (American double bow) FULL

September 28 – October 3  Continuous-arm

October 11-16 English Double Bow at West Dean College

November 2-6  Sack-back (American double bow)

November 16-20  Settee

December 7-11  English double bow

2016 Course Dates

January 11-14 Continuous-arm

January 25-29 Sack-back

February 8-12 Rocking chair

February 20-21 Stool – weekend

February 29-March 4 English double bow

March 14-18 Continuous-arm

March 28 – April 1 Sack-back

Keep in Touch – Instagram

About four months ago I began posting pictures from The Windsor Workshop on Instagram There are now over 1,000 people following my feed from around the world! If I’m doing anything of interest I’ll upload an image – sometimes several times a day. It’s a great way of seeing what’s going on and picking up new techniques.

If you have never heard of Instagram, or the thought of it makes you shudder, why not just have a look at my pictures on your computer: https://instagram.com/windsorworkshop/

If you like what you see, and wish to leave comments, ‘like’ images, and ‘follow’ people, then you can get the App for your phone/tablet and start Instagramming yourself!

I have found it very rewarding and it has put me in touch with a number of superb Windsor chairmakers and furniture makers around the world.

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I will be attending four more shows this year and would be delighted to see you if you can make it:

29-31 August      Pashley Manor Gardens, Sussex Guild
eautiful manor house in East Sussex with magnificent gardens open to the public. Interesting sculptures all around the garden.

4-6 September    Wellington College, Crowthorne, Craft in Focus
 have not done this show before but it is organised by the same company that runs the super Wisley Gardens craft show in April/May. Should be good!

7-8 November     Hurstpierpoint College, Sussex Guild
ussex Guild show at Hurstpierpoint College.

28-29 November  Rother College, Midhurst – Sussex Guild
lways the best Sussex Guild show in the magnificent buildings or Rother College, a new academy school. Perfect for early Christmas shopping.

8-leg Windsor Settee

Earlier this year I made my largest Windsor yet – an 8-legged settee. This was based on an old West Country chair, stretched to seat three.

If you have made a Windsor chair you will remember that it is the spindles that take up a lot of time. This piece had 45 spindles – and they were long!

The seat was made from a single piece of elm and everything else was in ash. My client wanted it unfinished.

Modern Art!

My wife is a teacher and she was asked at the end of last year, by the art teacher, whether I might have some old chairs that could be re-modeled in the style of different artists. We had a look at my wall of chairs (prototypes and the unwanted) and found several.

This is the result of the art teacher’s efforts to inspire her students. The chair is in the style of Fernand Leger. Fantastic!

Chairs from former students

Every now and again former students send me pictures of their latest work. It gives me enormous pleasure to know that the lessons from the course(s) have not been lost but continue to produce dividends. Here are some of the latest:

Garry Marcham, who runs courses in the west of Ireland, made this imposing chair.

Charlie Payne has made four fabulous bowback chairs in ash and elm:

Steven Cruickshank, who has been many times (most recently on the settee course) has painted his settee with his home-made milk paint. Delightful.

Michael Toomey completed this comb back chair, finished with black over red milk paint, for his daughter just before she began studying for her A-levels. At least she will be comfortable while she studies!

Simple Steam Box

Having read in my last newsletter about my new and somewhat ‘industrial’ steam box, Jonathan thought that it was important that others should be aware of just how simply one could be put together. He wrote:

“10cm plastic pipe,

Backing board,

Several clips to prevent distortion when the plastic softens

A bolt at either end, to lie the wood battens on, to ensure good circulation

Slope to drain the condensate

£25 wall paper stripper from Homebase.


Just don’t forget the wheelbarrow!! (JM)

Unusual Windsor from Larark

Ken is a maker and aficionado of Windsor chairs and he sent me this email shortly after receiving my previous newsletter. The chairs that he describes are really quite unusual, particularly the way the top bow passes through the arm and ends in the seat:

“I was browsing through some of my photos and came across these and thought you may be interested in them. I took them about 4/5 years ago, I sent a copy to Bill Cotton he said that he had never come across them before. The hand holds are mirrored in the lugs at each front corner of the seat . This is similar to chairs made in Darvel in Ayrshire  as is the arm rest made in three pieces. There are some stretchers broken and missing but the best and most unusual and I would think most difficult part to make is how the Bow Back carries on through the Arm rest and goes right in to the seat. I think I can remember a picture of a chair in the book by Charles Santori that had a similar mirrored hand hold and seat in it but unfortunately the chair was lost in a fire

Robert Owen was responsible for the running  of New Lanark  Mill and they had a school and taught children up to the age of 10 they started the first Crèche in the world They ran one of the first Co-op’s in Britain. The Mill provided work for many Highland folk at the time of the Highland clearances, many others went to America and Australia.

In Scotland there are many different styles of chairs for different regions e.g. the Orkney chair, made with a back of oat straw, because they didn’t have any timber other than drift wood. They didn’t have wide elm boards to make seats from so some made them like the Inverness chairs from the crook of a tree and laid a plank across to form the seat and socket the legs into the crook. there is the Caithness chair and the Sutherland Chairs. Quite a lot of chairs on the East coast had a plank seat with a front rail on them, this rail was to hang there sea boot socks over to dry whilst they sat in front of the fire. There is a fine Museum in Kingussie that has many of these chairs in it also many are documented in the book you recommended to me about Scottish Vernacular Furniture by Bill Cotton. “

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all aspects of Windsor chairs & Windsor chair making

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Join my


all aspects of Windsor chairs & Windsor chair making

Delivered by email, each newsletter (4 a year) contains new course dates, Windsor chair making tips and other useful information.

*By subscribing you agree that James Mursell can email his newsletter to you. You can easily unsubscribe at any time.