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  #1  
Old 04-29-2009, 04:03 PM
Zsofia Zsofia is offline
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Horsehair upholstery stuffing

I assume it's horsehair, at any rate. I got the decayed leather off the stool I'm restoring, got all the tacks out (Jesus Christ you don't even know!) and took off the muslin tacked down under the remains of the leather. There was some sort of batting, and then.... I dunno, giant pubes. I assume it's horsehair? Some kind of hair, at any rate. Under that is some light batting stuff and then some sort of piping tacked around the edge, I assume to give it a nice edge.

It all seems to be in surprisingly good shape (I'm assuming, because it was in my great grandmother's house, that it's probably late Victorian, something around there), but I'm also assuming I should replace it. You touch it and a cloud of dust comes up, and I know at one point it was in a flooded basement, you know? So I'm thinking I should keep the piping (seems like a real pain to replace it and have it look as nice) but replace the batting and the horsehair.

What do you replace it with, though? Do we still use horsehair? Where can I get it from? If we don't, what do we use? It's a firm kind of cushioned stool (well, it is now - I assume it's meant to be firm).
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  #2  
Old 04-29-2009, 04:30 PM
Dewey Finn Dewey Finn is offline
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Horsehair is apparently still available (perhaps from the glue factories?). For an example, yesterday one of the blogs on the New York Times website had this post about a mattress factory in the Bronx that is shown using it to make a new mattress.
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  #3  
Old 04-30-2009, 04:22 AM
t-bonham@scc.net t-bonham@scc.net is offline
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Originally Posted by Zsofia View Post
and then.... I dunno, giant pubes.
If by this you mean curly hairs, then it's probably not horsehair, which is usually straight (except for a couple of rather rare breeds). Could be cattle or buffalo hair, both of which are more curly.
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  #4  
Old 04-30-2009, 04:57 AM
ArmenE ArmenE is offline
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Originally Posted by t-bonham@scc.net View Post
If by this you mean curly hairs, then it's probably not horsehair, which is usually straight (except for a couple of rather rare breeds). Could be cattle or buffalo hair, both of which are more curly.
I thought the same thing, until going to the link provided by Finn, and saw that that particular mattress company uses something they call "curled horsehair": http://www.chbeckley.com/prod_mattresses_bristol.html
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  #5  
Old 04-30-2009, 08:21 AM
Sal Ammoniac Sal Ammoniac is offline
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I had a 19th-century sofa reupholstered the other year, and the upholsterer gave me a thorough documentation, with photographs, of what she had done. She mentions the original stuffing material as being "hair," which I have ever reason to assume was horsehair. (She in fact reused it.)

Horsehair was also a very common form of 19th-century upholstery. Tightly woven, it gives a glossy black, hard-wearing surface. Wonder if anyone is reproducing that these days.
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  #6  
Old 04-30-2009, 10:02 AM
Enright3 Enright3 is offline
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Man, I need to get my glasses checked. I was wondering how you could ever upholster a chair with nose hairs.
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  #7  
Old 07-18-2011, 02:45 PM
fp2161 fp2161 is offline
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Hey all,

this is my first post.

Horse hair is still used to upholster seats, sofas, footstools, etc, both as a stuffing, and as a fabric.

As a stuffing it is luxurious and rare, partly because its springiness and durability are second to none for upholsterers: a seat stuffed with horsehair can last up to centuries. When it needs reupholstering, you can usually clean it and re-use it again.

Modern substitutes, from the cheapest to the most expensive include: foam, coconut fibre, vegetal fibre, and animal hair (mixed between horse and hog sometimes), but these are usually less durable. Only the best upholsterers can work with horse hair.

As a fabric, horse hair is not just luxurious, it is astronomical, and is the most luxurious furniture fabric in the world. Some mills in Europe still manufacture it, though they are few and far between, hence the prices. It is also probably the most durable fabric one can find.

I hope this helps,
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  #8  
Old 07-18-2011, 04:30 PM
cwthree cwthree is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sal Ammoniac View Post
Horsehair was also a very common form of 19th-century upholstery. Tightly woven, it gives a glossy black, hard-wearing surface. Wonder if anyone is reproducing that these days.
Nike offered horsehair-textile sneakers a couple of years ago.
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  #9  
Old 07-19-2011, 12:56 AM
t-bonham@scc.net t-bonham@scc.net is offline
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People seem to be confusing 3 different items here:[list][*]horsehair - this is body hair, clipped from a horse (not mane or tali hair, which has other uses). Often used as stuffing in upholstered products. This is cheaper, because, like wool, it can be harvested regularly without harming the animal.[*]horsehide - this is the skin of a horse, clipped, cleaned, and tanned into leather. More expensive, since a horse had to die to produce it (and that happens less often than with cattle). Compared to cowhide leather, horsehide is more dense and mostly non-porous. This makes it quite a bit more durable than cowhide. Disadvantages are that it weighs more, and does not dye well -- most dyed horsehide products come only in black.[*]hair-on horsehide robes - this is a horse skin that is cleaned but with the hair left on during preservation. These are mostly seen as carriage or sleigh lap robes, with the inner side of the leather covered with a wool or felt lining. They are very warm, and extremely durable. It's not uncommon to have them last over 100 years, if well cared for. These are the most expensive, because of the work required to produce them. (Also a bit of fashion pricing -- particular colors or patterns are more desirable.)
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  #10  
Old 07-19-2011, 01:01 AM
t-bonham@scc.net t-bonham@scc.net is offline
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People seem to be confusing 3 different items here:[list][*]horsehair - this is body hair, clipped from a horse (not mane or tali hair, which has other uses). This is cheaper, because, like wool, it can be harvested regularly without harming the animal.[*]horsehide - this is the skin of a horse, clipped, cleaned, and tanned into leather. More expensive, since a horse had to die to produce it (and that happens less often than with cattle). Compared to cowhide leather, horsehide is more dense and mostly non-porous. This makes it quite a bit more durable than cowhide. Disadvantages are that it weighs more, and does not dye well -- most dyed horsehide products come only in black.[*]hair-on horsehide robes - this is a horse skin that is cleaned but with the hair left on during preservation. These are mostly seen as carriage or sleigh lap robes, with the inner side of the leather covered with a wool or felt lining. They are very warm, and extremely durable. It's not uncommon to have them last over 100 years, if well cared for. These are the most expensive, because of the extra work needed to produce them. (There is also some fashion pricing -- certain colors or patterns are more desired.)
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  #11  
Old 07-19-2011, 01:07 AM
t-bonham@scc.net t-bonham@scc.net is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2003
People seem to be confusing 3 different items here:[list][*]horsehair - this is body hair, clipped from a horse (not mane or tali hair, which has other uses). This is cheaper, because, like wool, it can be harvested regularly without harming the animal.[*]horsehide - this is the skin of a horse, clipped, cleaned, and tanned into leather. More expensive, since a horse had to die to produce it (and that happens less often than with cattle). Compared to cowhide leather, horsehide is more dense and mostly non-porous. This makes it quite a bit more durable than cowhide. Disadvantages are that it weighs more, and does not dye well -- most dyed horsehide products come only in black.[*]hair-on horsehide robes - this is a horse skin that is cleaned but with the hair left on during preservation. These are mostly seen as carriage or sleigh lap robes, with the inner side of the leather covered with a wool or felt lining. They are very warm, and extremely durable. It's not uncommon to have them last over 100 years, if well cared for. These are the most expensive, because of the extra work needed to produce them. (There is also some fashion pricing -- certain colors or patterns are more desired.)
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  #12  
Old 07-19-2011, 08:11 AM
Zsofia Zsofia is offline
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There are two zombie threads that I started now! Is somebody stalking me?

I still haven't finished my mom's stool, by the way - I decided to just leave the original horsehair there, replace the muslin layer, and replace the leather, but then I found out that hammering in furniture tacks that will show is an art you can't really teach yourself very well. I keep meaning to take it to an upholsterer but I keep forgetting.
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  #13  
Old 07-20-2011, 02:55 AM
fp2161 fp2161 is offline
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Originally Posted by Zsofia View Post
There are two zombie threads that I started now! Is somebody stalking me?

I still haven't finished my mom's stool, by the way - I decided to just leave the original horsehair there, replace the muslin layer, and replace the leather, but then I found out that hammering in furniture tacks that will show is an art you can't really teach yourself very well. I keep meaning to take it to an upholsterer but I keep forgetting.
You need to make sure that the upholsterer you go to knows how to work with horse hair, it is a true specialty. In the US, you may be able to find one on the upholster forum (you can google it). These guys tend to be quite good at what they do.
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