While the chair looks beautiful, and we were clearly able to preserve the finish, the customer really just didn't feel happy with the black. So she brought it back to us to see if there was anything else we could do to keep the chair's historic quality, but not have the chair black anymore.
We could see a little bit of a greenish color under the black, and where the black was more worn, we could see little areas of green. So we decided to try and remove just the black by scrubbing by hand, without having to put it through the stripping system, which would have removed everything! Once we got below the black layer, we could see a beautiful old green painted finish appear, and a very cool red 'alligator' painted finish on the seat. What also emerged was some striping over the green paint, and what looks to be an old decal on the center of the back. Once we successfully removed all of the black coating, we cleaned the rocking chair and then proceeded to wax and polish it. Waxing and polishing is very labor intensive work, especially on a piece such as this with all those spindles and stretchers. But, it really is the best way to make an old finish look beautiful again, while still preserving the historical value of the piece.
The chair really looks beautiful now, and we have succeeded in making our customer happy. We retained the original historical value of the rocking chair, while getting rid of the black she so disliked. Of course, this chair's own unique history helped us achieve that aim. Without that beautiful green and red layer hiding under the black coating, we would not have been able to accomplish our goal.