Catching up with Windsor chair maker Jason Mosseri
8th February 2020
I found Jason working away in a timber frame workshop nestled at the bottom of his garden on the outskirts of Lewes, East Sussex. Previously a tattoo artist, Jason is now a maker of Windsor chairs – chairs that consist of a seat with parts socketed in to it. He began making chairs as a hobby before applying for a QEST Scholarship in 2018 to travel to Tennessee and spend time learning from master chair maker Curtis Buchanan. “Curtis is my chair guru. He has a lot of videos up on YouTube that I’d been watching but I wanted to go and learn from him in person.” This trip provided the impetus for Jason to leave tattooing and move into chair making full time and he now runs his own business, Hopesprings Chairs.
Tell us about your time in Tennessee?
Chair making has a strong tradition in the States – as we do here – but over there it’s alive and kicking in a better way, as it has more cultural importance. In the 1700s the Declaration of Independence would have been signed by men sitting on Windsor chairs, whereas over here they are our country furniture and they end up in a pub rather than a museum. They have lots of fine Windsor furniture in their historic buildings and museums, whereas British furniture has an older and more European heritage. It was great to be somewhere with such a strong tradition and I learnt a lot from Curtis – it was just what I needed at the time.
What draws you to chairs?
I’ve always found them quirky and characterful – I think that’s part of their attraction. They share a lot of the same parts as humans, so they’ve got arms, legs, a back and a seat, and I think that’s partly why they look like creatures and people are drawn to them. There are a lot of chair fetishists out there!
Tell us about your chairs
I’m a green wood maker and I mainly work with ash and beech, predominantly sourced locally in Petworth. I make a variety of British and American styles, some more historic and others modern. I don’t just want to do reproductions of classic designs as they are too traditional for the UK market. I’m finding my way – I quite like the Japanese and Scandinavian feel and try to make something clean and elegant – a modern take on something traditional, and I think this is what my clients like.
I’ll be at the Mid Century Modern show in Dulwich in March and the Bovey Tracey Craft Fair in June. I’m also part of the QEST 30th anniversary exhibition at Fortnum & Mason during London Craft Week, so there’s a lot going on.
I’m doing more teaching too – I’ve been asked to run a course at West Dean this month, so I’m looking forward to that. After a winter in the workshop I’m raring to go to the bluebell woods where I run chair making courses between May and September. We use old fashioned methods with no electricity and at the end of six days everyone leaves with their own chair. I like connecting with people and sharing my enthusiasm and I’m getting a reputation for very good lunches during the course too!