seat level is a horizontal rail (seat frame) ; and in some instances there is another horizontal rail at a greater or less distance above the seat.
The student is to notice especially that the uprights (the back legs) are of one piece from the floor to the top rail of the back. This is often forgotten by beginners in chair designing, and weak, almost impossible, shapes are given to the back as a result. The elliptical and shield-backs, though at first glance violating this rule, are really composed of the parts as mentioned above. A larger drawing of the shield-back is given on Plate XVII., showing by the dotted lines the prolongation of the lower part of the leg; and the joints where the top and bottom rails of the shield meet the uprights are also indicated. Another chair back is also shown 011 the plate illustrating the same principle. There is but one exception to the above method of construction, and that is, when a solid wood seat is used; similar to the saddle seated Windsor; the German Stuhk, with turned legs; and the Italian Scabeium, with its solid board supports. In this case the legs and the back are separate. Each leg is inserted in holes for the purpose in the board seat.
Having determined on the outline of a chair back it is necessary to study its composition, that is, to decide how the space within the outline is to be treated. This question is sometimes decided before the design is begun, as, for instance, when it is panelled, or upholstered. If, however, it is to be of some other pattern, study is necessary. Aside from the methods just mentioned, the back may be filled with slats arranged in one of the four ways shown on Plate X.
A single broad slat ("splat") may be placed in the middle of the back between the top and the seat rail, or it may stop 011 a horizontal rail just above the seat. Such a slat can be treated as desired either with figured veneers, inlay, painting, carving, perforations, etc. A back composed of a number of vertical turned or half turned slats filling the space has been called a "banister back." But the slats are not always turned, they are sometimes flat, moulded, perforated, in-laved, or carved. They are sometimes placed horizontally and bowed, the concave side toward the seat. The curvature increases as the slats approach the top; so, though the lower slat may be nearly straight, the top one is hollowed considerably to receive the shoulders of a person sitting in the chair. This gradual change in the curvature of the slats is sometimes substituted for the sloping of the back posts.
Chairs made with turned posts and having horizontal slats in the back were named by the number of slats. As, three backed, or four backed chairs; that is, three or four horizontal slats. Five backed chairs were quite uncommon.
It is perhaps almost unnecessary to say that both horizontal and vertical slats may be used in the same back. There is an endless variety of ways in which these slats and balusters may be grouped, spaced, and proportioned to fill the space well. Whether the slats or the spaces shall be the broadest? What is the best outline for the balusters? Are the kind of questions the designer is to ask himself, striving always to obtain the beautiful rather than the eccentric and curious forms.
The outline of the top rail of the "rectangular" and "trapezoidal'' backs has its influence on the appearance of the chair, and it may be more or less ornamented. Four forms are shown on Plate X. which explain themselves.
In Plate VIII. are shown five plans of arm chairs. One of these has the arm straight, following the plan of the seat. Two of the others indicate how the space between the arms is made wider than the seat at the back by curving the arm; the front post remaining in the same position as in the first plan. The plans drawn beneath the chair with the "receding arm post" show how the arm may be a compound curve or a continuation of the curve of the back. In the former not only does the curve give a maximum width between the arms, but ii also permits of the front scroll of the arm turning out, thus preventing the chair from seeming narrow.
In some chairs the plan of the arm follows the curve of the back-so there is no angle where the two join. This is illustrated in the plan of a "Windsor" chair, where the piece from which the arm is cut is continuous from one side of the chair to the other, the slats of the back passing directly through it.
Chair arms may be horizontal or they may slope to a greater or less degree with the highest point where they join the back. Stretchers are used to strengthen the chair. The legs when braced by them are more firm and less likely to loosen at the seat frame joint. Plate VIII. gives the plans of three arrangements of stretchers. When placed high enough to be out of the way of the feet of a person using the chair the stretcher may form a trapezoid parallel to the seat frame; or, if the chair seat is high and a foot rest is desired, the stretcher may be arranged this way and set low for the purpose. In olden times European chairs were always made high and with a foot
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