Handmade: Wild Chairy + Giveaway

wild chairy 1 of 15 Handmade: Wild Chairy + Giveaway
One of the purposes of Portrait of a Seamstress was to stretch the definition of a sewer to the max. The tie between sewing and sewing garments is so tight that most people automatically make the association when they hear the word. Think about people’s first response when you tell them you sew; most respond with the question, “Can you make me….” But there are so many people involved in the hobby who don’t sew clothes, as evidenced by Sara, who manipulates and stretches silk over canvases, and Caitlin, who crochets skeleton. I’m carrying that purpose into this series by featuring domestic makers of all types of products. The only common thread is that it involves fabric and a sewing machine somewhere in between start to finish.

What makes this Homemade most interesting, at least in my opinion, is that Andrea Mihalik, owner of Wild Chairy, doesn’t know how to sew. That’s probably not the way Andrea would like me to introduce her, but I think this is inspiring. How many of you can bang out a Renfrew top or and Albion coat, but wish you could make shoes to go with it? Well, you can. Just because you don’t know how doesn’t mean you can’t.

Stick around to the end because Andrea is offering approximately 2 yards of awesome fabric.

wild chairy 3 of 15 Handmade: Wild Chairy + GiveawayTell us your story: Hi, my name is Andrea, and before I started Wild Chairy, I was a photographer. I started photography when I was 5-years-old because my dad was in the trade, and I spent a lot of my childhood in the basement flipping images from the stop bath to the fixer and washer. Later I attended Tyler School of Art and became a photographer at the Philadelphia Daily News.

Twelve years later with three children and a husband who traveled for work, it became hard to maintain a work life balance. I love what I did, but when it was 3:00 p.m. and time to go home, I’d be called to go to an FBI stakeout. I eventually walked away from that life to take care of my family, but I was always searching for the next thing I could do. I ran marathons, taught photography, worked at a photo agency, but nothing felt right. When I was running, I would come across great chairs that were being thrown away, and I’d go back in my car and bring them home. Soon I had a garage full of chairs and I had no idea what to do with them.  I enrolled in a 4 week class at The Furniture Joint in NYC. I fell in love with upholstery, but when the class ended, I knew I needed more training. So, I got an internship at BDDW, a high-end furniture company based in Port Richmond. I was the 40-year-old intern working with 20-year-olds for free, butI learned my craft. After four months, I left and got my own studio at 9th and Spring Garden.

wild chairy 13 of 15 Handmade: Wild Chairy + Giveaway
wild chairy 14 of 15 Handmade: Wild Chairy + GiveawayConstruction: Every chair starts as a frame that I either acquire from the side of the road, an auction, an estate sale, or from someone who has given it to me. I strip them bare, which is something a lot of companies don’t do; many reuse the old parts. I start assembling the seat by stretching webbing on the bottom. On top of that I eight-way hand-tie coil springs then cover them with burlap. Next, I hand sew the horsehair into the chair and add a few layers of thick cotton. Muslin is then added to shape the seat. Last, I cover everything with 100% wool and then the final fabric. The only thing left at that point is to sew the cushions, which I have sewn for me.

Still learning: The 4 week course and the internship at BDDW taught me the basics, like how to 8-way hand-tie coil springs (an old world technique), but I’m still learning my craft. Every chair is different, and every arm presents a new challenge. I learn every day.

Mentor: I met Michael at BDDW; he was hired to teach employees how to upholster. Although we no longer work together I still call him for help. “Michael, how do I do this?” is how the conversation starts, and he’ll say, “Okay, if you’re looking at the arm upside down, turn this, and then pull that really tight.” I’ll get off the phone and think, “Okaayyyy…”

wild chairy 4 of 15 Handmade: Wild Chairy + Giveawaywild chairy 5 of 15 Handmade: Wild Chairy + Giveawaywild chairy 6 of 15 Handmade: Wild Chairy + GiveawayFamous and favorite client: One of my favorite customers is Tea Leoni, the actress. She is fearless and bold in her designs. I was able to experiment with a lot of fabrics and techniques I wouldn’t normally have the chance to. We put oil paintings by Sandra Hoffman on her dining room chairs and had custom fabrics hand painted for her sofas.

Sourcing fabrics:Mood Fabrics! My designs are inspired by fashion; I try to “dress” my chairs and push the boundaries. On one chair, I used a chalkboard on the back and on another, an oil painting. My goal is to make customers want to reach out and touch my chairs. A lot of the fabrics I use have texture or interesting hand-cut velvets, burnouts, etc. I also buy fabric at the Marketplace Design Center in Philadelphia. They carry exquisite fabrics.

What do you still want to learn? I want to learn how to sew! When I’m in Mood and I see the silks, all I want to do is make a pair of silk pajamas. I’ve learned to make a double welt, and slowly but surely, I’ll learn how to sew.

What is the future of Wild Chairy? I don’t know. I come to work because I have a passion, and I trust that this will take me to the place where I want to go.

wild chairy 9 of 15 Handmade: Wild Chairy + Giveawaywild chairy 10 of 15 Handmade: Wild Chairy + Giveawaywild chairy 11 of 15 Handmade: Wild Chairy + Giveawaywild chairy 12 of 15 Handmade: Wild Chairy + Giveawaywild chairy 2 of 15 Handmade: Wild Chairy + Giveaway

Now to the giveaway… for one reader, Andrea is offering approximately 2 yards of 100% organic cotton by Mod Green Pod. It’s a canvas weight, but could be used for a jacket, a Colette Cooper, or a Grainline Studio Portside. You’d be traveling in style if you made one of the last two. To enter, like both Madalynne and Wild Chairy’s Facebook page. For an additional/optional entry, follow Madalynne on Bloglovin. After, leave a comment with your method of entry and contact information included. A winner will be chosen at random on Monday, February 24th, when they’ll be contacted and featured on the blog. Good luck!

wild chairy 15 of 15 Handmade: Wild Chairy + Giveaway

tags: Interview Comments: 32

32 Comments
  1. Stephanie Lanzetti

    Madalynne liked, check. Wild Chairy liked, checked. Follow Madalynne on bloglovin, already doing it.

    What amazing chairs. I so want one in my house. Especially love the orange one in this post.

    If picked I can be found on Steffy65ltp@iinet.net.au

    Reply
  2. Elizabeth Page

    I would love to be able to do that – the chairs are stunning!
    Liked both on facebook, also follow Madelynne on Bloglovin. Contact is: lizzie.g.page at gmail.com

    Reply
  3. Jolien

    I love those chairs! Liked both pages on FB. Thanks for the giveaway!

    Reply
  4. Carlee McTavish

    Already follow you on Bloglovin and fb, just liked Wild Chairy. scoobydoo_whereru at hotmail dot com (or through my blog)

    Reply
  5. Heather Lou

    That fabric is lovely. And you knows what’s funny? That grey chair with the blue piping is in my inspiration library and I have referenced it a few times at work when I want a wingback chair with a modern twist. I love her work. And I have a few cool ideas in mind for that fabric!

    Reply
  6. Ginger

    Wow! These chairs are AMAZING! I love love love the way she’s combined textiles! How cool! You can leave me out of the giveaway as I’m drowning in fabric. I just wanted to comment and say how inspiring I find Andrea’s work!

    Reply
  7. thequirkypeach

    WOW! These chairs are just inspiring – thanks so much for posting about something so different and exciting! :)

    Reply
  8. Ruth Barnes-Memphis Tn

    I am in love with everything you do!!!! Amazing talent and so very inspiring!! Thank you!

    Reply
  9. Pat Dickinson

    I have been following Wild Chairy for a while now as I love her creativity. Her eye for selecting fabric for her chairs is inspiring. You are partnering with a true artist.

    Reply
  10. Pat Dickinson

    I have been following Wild Chairy on Facebook and look forward to following Madalynne. I am a fabricaholic.

    Reply
  11. Shani Ferguson

    I liked, and liked, and followed! I am a longtime fan of Wild Chairy, but new to you, and delighted to be here!

    Reply
  12. Sarah Harris

    I love, love, love Wild Chairy and now look forward to following Madalynne. Fabric Obsessed ;)

    Reply
  13. Julie

    Wild Chairy is fabulous. I’m looking forward to following Madalynne as well.

    Reply
  14. Michelle B

    I like both you and Wild Chairy on facebook :) Thanks for the giveaway!

    Reply
  15. Violet Winfield

    I am now eyeing my chairs in a different way having seen Wild Chairy’s artful array of design and colors. Thanks for the much needed inspiration to seek something different to do . . .

    Reply
  16. david1pelletier

    Those chairs are absolutely divine…reminds me of my old interior design days when I upholstered a couple of them, not to the same standards though

    Reply
  17. Kim

    Beautiful chairs! I follow you and Wild Chairy on fb kn my private account (kim meijer) and I also follow you on Bloglovin. Would love to make another Portside travel set!

    Reply
  18. Kay

    Thanks for a chance at a fun giveaway!

    Reply
  19. Mink Stole

    Your story inspires me. I have a basement full of beautiful found furniture. I now have the courage to make living in creating something new out something old.

    Reply
  20. Angela

    Beautiful work, how fun! I would love to learn how to do this!

    Reply
  21. Sabrina J Morrison

    I love the colors and patterns used to bring life to older designs!

    Reply
  22. Mabroor Khundmiri

    you are doing a fabulous job!!!!! going bonkers over the display here and on FB!!!! Andrea is a gem and no doubt you both gonna create World Wonders!!!!

    Reply
  23. Lola Del Rey

    already been following both you and wild chairy for a while. amazing chairs and fabrics. method of contact: c.m.calero at gmail dot com

    Reply
  24. Amy Bartley-Remling

    Thank you for the chance to win this fabric! I’ve been stalking Andrea for some time now and trying to talk myself into starting a chair but it is the sewing that stops me. I don’t sew and I thought that would completely keep me out of the upholstery game. Now that I know Andrea doesn’t sew it gives me the confidence to start! Thank you! I’ve liked both pages!

    Reply
  25. Nancy

    I’m a quiet stalker and have been following your blog since a friend recommended it to me a couple of months ago. I sew every day – tailoring my own clothes, altering store-bought clothes and making stuff for my home. I just ordered some fabric for drapes after sampling swatches at Mood. I would love to win the fabric you are offering! My best method of contact nancy_hughes[at]hotmail[dot]com Thanks! Your blog is inspirational.

    Reply
  26. Tara Elias

    like both Madalynne and Wild Chairy’s Facebook page

    Reply
  27. Tara Elias

    follow Madalynne on Bloglovin
    taraz9 at excite dot com

    Reply
  28. Amanda Russell

    Those chairs are utterly amazing… what gorgeous pieces of art!!

    Reply
  29. Elizabeth P.

    I follow Madalynne and Wild Chairy on facebook.

    Reply
  30. Bre Leverett

    Liking madalynne & wild chairy on fb…and following on bloglovin…fantastic! brecogirl@yahoo.com

    Reply

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