Cute Chair Needs Some Love
April 24, 2008 2:09 PM   Subscribe

How do I take care of my (possibly antique) Ethiopian wood chair?

How do I take care of my chair so it doesn't crack or warp? I'm in Chicago (dry winters, humid summers) and have noticed a few cracks in the wood. I assume those cracks were there before but didn't notice them at the time. I have no experience with cleaning/sealing/attending to nice wood furniture. How do I take care of it?

I bought the chair in Ethiopia about a year ago and shipped it home. The person I bought it from told me it was carved from a single tree (it is indeed one solid piece) native to Southern Ethiopia. My research on endemic Ethiopian trees only really turn up African Blackwood (ebony) which this is not. I bought it because I love the style so I don't mind that it's not in perfect condition.

It has a slightly "waxy" feel when I touch it and I'm not sure if it has been treated with something or varnished. The finish is worn in some areas and has some strange patterns like something was spilled on it or, if it was varnished, it was poorly done.

Because I bought it from a local shop, not an antique dealer or high end gallery I wasn't able to get many details and have no way of contacting the seller for more information.

Photos of the chair in question:
Entire chair
Detail of back stain
Detail of side stain
Detail of crack on back
Detail of crack on seat
posted by Bunglegirl to Home & Garden (4 answers total)
I know you didn't buy it from there, but have you thought about contacting Makush Art Gallery in Addis? They specialize in selling Ethiopian art and furniture that is to be shipped overseas. Yes, you already have the chair (lucky you! I wanted to steal purchase one from the National Museum when I lived there), but I'm sure they can help you out with care information, since they sell identical chairs to foreigners all the time.
posted by carabiner at 3:10 PM on April 24, 2008

Furniture repair guy, in Chicago land, this winter did blow.

The chair has been stained, the odd marks are from something on the wood when they did it.

Could be resin from the wood itself or glue, who knows, but the darker stain could not penetrate it, from the look of the drips I'd hazard resin from the wood itself.

It has some sort of finish on it or has been waxed or oiled for years.

To avoid further splitting get a humidifier for the winters. Although none of them look serious.
posted by Max Power at 3:49 PM on April 24, 2008

this is strictly amateur, but i use boiled linseed oil. seems to work on a lot of old wood but i never had a really fine piece to work on.
posted by lemuel at 5:00 PM on April 24, 2008

Response by poster: I've contacted the Makush Gallery to no reply so far. I'll post if I get any advice.
posted by Bunglegirl at 5:42 PM on May 13, 2008

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