Chair Slats, Splats, Rails & Posts
Having determined on the outline of chair backs it is necessary to study their composition, that is, to decide how the space within the outline is to be treated. This question is sometimes decided before the design is begun, as, for instance, when it is panelled, or upholstered. If, however, it is to be of some other pattern, study is necessary. Aside from the methods just mentioned, the back may be filled with slats arranged in one of the four ways shown in the diagram.
A single broad slat, or "splat", may be placed in the middle of the back between the top and the seat rail, or it may stop on a horizontal rail just above the seat. Such slats can be treated as desired either with figured veneers, inlay, painting, carving, perforations, etc. A back composed of a number of vertical turned or half turned slats filling the space has been called a "banister back". But the slats are not always turned, they are sometimes flat, moulded, perforated, in-layed, or carved. They are sometimes placed horizontally and bowed, the concave side toward the seat. The curvature increases as the slats approach the top; so, though the lower slat may be nearly straight, the top one is hollowed considerably to receive the shoulders of a person sitting in the chair. This gradual change in the curvature of the slats is sometimes substituted for the sloping of the back posts.
Chairs made with turned posts and having horizontal slats in the back were named by the number of slats. As, three backed, or four backed chairs; that is, three or four horizontal slats. Five backed chairs were quite uncommon.
It is perhaps almost unnecessary to say that both horizontal and vertical slats may be used in the same back. There is an endless variety of ways in which these slats and balusters may be grouped, spaced, and proportioned to fill the space well. Whether the slats or the spaces shall be the broadest? What is the best outline for the balusters? Are the kind of questions the designer is to ask himself, striving always to obtain the beautiful rather than the eccentric and curious forms.
The outline of the top rail of the "rectangular" and "trapezoidal" backs has its influence on the appearance of the chair, and it may be more or less ornamented. Four forms are shown on in the diagram above which explain themselves.
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