Mason Monterey Polychrome Slingback at the Oregon Caves NM

MPF Conservation conserved and/or restored two dozen pieces of Mason Monterey furniture which were bought for the Chateau at the Oregon Caves National Monument (NPS); this page features the Mason Monterey Polychrome Slingback, which was slated for use back on the Chateau floor as part of the Chateau Collection.

We are updating this page; please excuse our mess!

MPF Conservation suspected this Mason chair had been repainted by an employee due to the color of the finish when compared to other Mason Monterey both in the Oregon Caves and others they had seen. This led us to also surmise the chair had been through the flood of 1964, which is outlined in the History of Mason Monterey page.

Further, the chair had a new and inappropriate leather back rest.

Leather Excavation

We began by excavating the Decorative nails, above left. Note: MPFC had new replacement nails created as many nails were lost, but some simply had to be straightened, above right.

Chemical Strip

Because of the inappropriate new paint, we made the decision to chemically strip the entire chair, which is the only time we have used this procedure. We did not want the chair left for a long period in the solution, so we stood by while it was dipped, then scrubbed free of most of the last generation of paint.

We chemically stripped the chair partly on a hunch that we might be able to find out the historic colors.

Our hunch paid off! Traces of ivory, yellow and red were found deep in the joints of the dipped chair, shown left.

Further, when the iron strapping was removed, we found traces of the base coat green color.

This meant that the chair was originally green, with accents of yellow, ivory and red! This was very exciting. The decision was made to restore the original colors.


The chair was sanded smooth of the raised grain from the dipping solution, above right.

It was primed with gesso to protect the raw wood and in preparation for the Gamblin oil colors, left.

The cleaned forged steel strapping was applied. When the oil painting began, the strapping was painted dark green, based on very small bits of green found on the metal after the dipping, above.

Base coats were applied, ivory for two of the splats, red for the balls, and the Spanish Green base for the body of the chair. We used Gamblin Artist Colors: 1980 Oil Colors. These are wonderful for furniture as they have good pigment load but are not as expensive as their artist line.

We used a bass wood test board, and this served eventually as a record of the actual 1980 Oil Colors we used on each chair.

Some base coat colors required more than one coat of paint for coverage; Kate began with the ivory splats.

Kate prefers a brush no larger than one-inch wide. It takes a bit longer to paint but there is no sanding, scraping, dripping, etc., so in the long run it is faster. When each coat was dry, which took several days, Kate applied the next coat. It helped that many chairs were in the studio at once

Meanwhile we researched chairs of this type, and the decorative patterns, if any, that might have been applied. Again we were rewarded for our efforts, and found the historic pattern shown right.

We expanded it to the proper size for the stretcher bar, and transferred it to the ivory back stretcher.

The Smokey Maple base topcoat was applied after the saturated base coat paints dried, above. First was a darker coat, as if accreted in the joints, then an overall coat.

Above, a slide show of the stages of painting
the Mason Monterey Polychrome Slingback.


Mitchell replicated the seat, and created a new back that fit the chair.

The leather was cut, skived, and painted. After the paint was dry, it was scuffed to look older. The leather was applied by piloting holes for the nails; then the leather was nailed using tacks.

New decorative nails were painted, then added to cover the visible nails on the back stiles, shown left..

The finished Mason Monterey Polychrome Slingback chair, below!

Slideshow of the Mason Monterey Polychrome Slingback, above.