Dairy Barn Chair


I discovered this chair in an abandoned dairy barn in Tomales, California, among artifacts from a formerly productive cattle ranch just down the coast in West Marin County. It is a good example of “maintenance equals improvement” in that the original rush-woven seat has been replaced by a woven leather seat improvised by the deceased rancher, consisting of a single strand of raw hide, diagonally laced across the seating frame. The seat itself has remained strong and tight, and amazingly shows no sign of decay, despite it’s obvious age and neglect after so many years living in the barn. Also, it is very comfortable.


I would like to adapt the pattern to another material if possible, and have been experimenting with kelp foraged from beaches nearby. I harvested a load of kelp a month ago, and hung the long strands to dry in the sun. I was impressed how the kelp kept its shape on contours, and how it remained stiff yet flexible.


More to come…

One reply on “Dairy Barn Chair”

  1. My parents had 3 or 4 of these identical chairs in San Rafael where I grew up, same pale yellow paint also. Rawhide was a reagional historical answer to the rush seat, very common across the West.
    I remember tracing the patterns of these rawhide chairs, and also in the oak caned kitchen chairs they had. The interest held to a sometime carreer as a seat weaver- highly satisfying and meditative work, pittiful pay and hard on the hands.
    Thank you for reviving the memories with your photos, of a little girl lying under a chair tracing patterns in the sunlight with her fingers.
    Clear skies!
    C. Widger
    Novato CA

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