It has amazed me over the years that I have been a “Seat Weaver” how all the various forms of seat weaving has been lumped into one category called “Caning”.
I have tried over the years to educate customers when they come to me and say I have a set of chairs to be caned, knowing that in most cases it is NOT a caned chair; but a Splint Bottom, Rush Bottom, Danish Cord, Sea-grass, or one of many forms of seat weaving, sometimes I have gotten wicker, and it was referred to as caning.
Usually the customer will tell me it is a hand caned chair, then look at a hand caned chair and say NO, it looks nothing like that, and it turns out to be a rush chair.
It kinds of make one wonder where down the road ages past that all forms of seat weaving became Caning? I wish that I had the answer to share with all of you, however I do not.
Hand Caning– entirely woven by hand, to form the little octagonal hole pattern that becomes the seat, also known as the 7 step pattern
Pressed or Sheet Caning– Comes in a sheet form, is soaked and cut to size, then placed over top of a groove or channel cut into the chair seat, which is held in place by a reed spline. This process is much like replacing a window screen.
Genuine Rush or Fiber Rush– commonly described as being woven of a rope like material, which forms what looks like four envelope flaps with points meeting in the center.
Fiber Rush is a tightly twisted and in most cases a brown heavy kraft brown paper.
Genuine Rush– Is made from bulrushes or cattail leaves, the leaves are gathered and the rope is made entirely by hand as you weave the seat, this form of rush is very labor intensive and usually reserved for museum quality chairs.
Splint– Usually woven in a 3/3 herringbone twill pattern, sometimes 2/2 twill herringbone twill pattern, or a basket weave pattern, the latter two are more time consuming as the weave is much tighter and takes longer to pack the rows together.Splint can come in many forms, the most common today is reed splint, Oak and Hickory, here the latter two in some cases is cost prohibitive to customers as the cost is higher due to the splints being made from the tree, with a draw knife and leather chaps to split out the splints to ready for weaving.
Danish Cord– This is common in Danish Modern Furniture, again like Fiber Rush, it is a twisted paper only made in Denmark, unlike fiber rush, it is usually finer and much harder in texture, also it is white or off white in color.
The world of “Seat Weaving” is much more complex than just caning, there are many different style of seat weaving and all have individual names, and very different weaving styles.
I will note here that most customers look and say I never knew, so here I have tried to explain the various forms in hopes you will look at your chairs in a whole new light.
It is my aim soon to post an article with pictures of all the various forms of “Seat Weaving ” to give you a better idea of what all of this is about.