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A Chair That Survived California’s Camp Fire Gets New Life With a Colorful Makeover

My family and I were four out of 27,000 people that ran for their lives that November morning. It was the scariest thing I’d ever been through and my kids are just starting to let go of the fear that’s gripped them ever since.

But that’s not what this post is about. It’s about the wooden chair we found when we went dig through the ashes of our old home. The chair had only been charred. My husband and I appreciated it’s survival and so we took it with us for me to give it new life. And that’s what I did - and what I’ll be sharing with you today.

Chair makeover

I know i said I wasn’t going to be going into details about the fire. But, I want to share an image of what was left at our address when Cal Fire went through the town to photograph the carnage. They didn’t let us Paradise folk back up there for over a month, so this is how people found out what happened to their home.

If you look at the big rock in the foreground in the picture and then look just past it, you’ll see our statue of the Buddha, still standing admits the destruction of everything else.

camp fire destroyed house

Luckily, Buddha wasn’t the only thing that wasn’t completely destroyed.

There also stood our chair:

a charred wooden chair

I decided I had to do something creative with this chair that would also symbolize what it had gone through.

I decided to make a graphic of a phoenix emerging from a camp fire. I’m not too knowledgable of the details, but I know in Greek Mythology, there’s a story of something getting destroyed in a fire and then eventually turns into a phoenix that rises from the ashes of what was burned. So, that’s why I chose the Pheonix. It’s rising from a camp fire because that was the name they called the fire that destroyed Paradise and so much of the surrounding area.

a phoenix design created for chair makeover


Materials used


Though it mostly survived, our chair didn’t come out of the fire without scars. I added some e600 glue to the charred parts so they’d stay in tact while I worked on the chair.

I wanted the chair to be really colorful, so I prepared to prime it.

I covered the whole chair with a layer of primer. Not only does it give a white background for your colors, it also helps the colors stick to the surface.

I designed the graphic on one of my iPad apps.

camp fire phoenix design

I sketched out my picture onto the seat of the chair:

camp fire design sketched on the chair

I painted it in sections of color until the the entire seat was painted.

paint camp fire design on chair

phoenix camp fire painting on chair

Since, I planned to spray paint the rest of the chair to give it an even coat, I needed to mask my picture:

mask the chair to keep paint off design

I also wanted the back and legs to have different colors. So I had to tape off sections depending on what part I doing and what color paint I was using:

Here, you can see I sprayed the black paint:

spray paint sections of chair black for makeover

Taking the tape off was fun and it had worked well to keep the paints where they were supposed to be.

peel away masking tape after spray paint dries

Once the whole chair had been painted like I wanted, I got to start what I felt was the funnest part of the project.

Since I was going for a stained glass effect, I used black puffy paint as my faux leading:

use puffy paint as faux leading for stained glass look

camp fire design outlined in puffy paint

For the last step I wanted to cover the chair in epoxy resin. Doing that would give it a glassy look, making my stained glass more realistic.

I mixed the resin and hardener per instructions:

mix resin per instructions

After doing the appropriate stirring, I poured the mixed resin over the seat of my chair:

poor resin over the seat of the chair

I evened the resin out using a palette knife:

spread resin over the design

I decided not to use the epoxy resin for the rest of the chair because I didn’t want drip marks forming in the resin.

So, I sprayed on some ultra thick clear glaze:

coat the bars of the chair with ultra thick spray gloss

I sprayed an extra amount on the part that had been charred and following apart the most:

seal the burnt parts of the chair

And then I was done. I now have a chair to help me remember that we survived and to be grateful about that.

chair makeover in honor of surviving the camp fire

phoenix rises for camp fire chair

proud transformation

Do any of you have a piece of furniture you now want to commemorate through art?

To end this post, a Buddhist teaching on transformation:

A buddhist teaching on transformation to go with my chair transformation

Get materials from Amazon:

step by step chair transformation

furniture makeover diy

chair makeover  diy tutorial

camp fire chair makeover

3 Σχόλια

Sassy Little Hippie
Sassy Little Hippie
14 Ιουλ 2021

This is beautiful. What a great reminder of the strength and growth for your family from the ashes.

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Heather McClelland
Heather McClelland
15 Ιουλ 2021
Απάντηση σε

Thank you so much. The chair sits at dinner with us, ha ha

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Mary Neumann
07 Οκτ 2019

Knowing how everyone suffered, this is a tribute to the resilience of an artist.

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