Seat Weaving – One name takes on so many forms down through the ages, examples are Hand Caning, Pressed Caning, Splint Bottoms, Rush Bottoms, Shaker Tape, Danish Cord. Though it is interesting to note as a Seat Weaver, the most common term applied to seat weaving is to call everything Caning. Generally speaking when you are contacted by a customer the first words out, I have a chair to be caned! It is only minutes into the conversation the you quickly determine that the chair in question could not be further from caning, but instead it is Rush.
It is interesting to note also that Seat Weaving in all of its various forms has literally be practiced for thousands of years, of course with refinements made to the process over the year. Seat Weaving has withstood the test of time! No matter what century you have been in there have always been chairs with woven bottoms, even in todays mechanized, computer oriented and contemporary world, where people want instant gratification of everything they are doing, there is the Seat Weaver, who does his age old art by hand without the aid of computers or machines.
One thing for certain, that most chairs, some hundreds of years old , built by craftsman that lovingly set out to build chairs that often times have out lived their creators by hundreds of years. Sometimes relegated to attics, barns, outbuildings and basements for years to come until one day, someone looks at their handcrafted beauty and decided a new bottom needs to be woven so that this work of art can live once again.
Today we are in tough economic times, much is made of the “Green Movement” and “Recycling” or even “Saving a Tree” Since 90% of all chairs are made of wood from a tree, does it not make more sense to take and breath new life into that tree that was fallen hundreds of years ago, rather than to cut down a new tree, which in many, but not all cases today made so cheaply that it probably will not see the next century?
The age old problem that relegated many of these chairs to attics and barns still exists with us today, a shortage of seat weavers, hand caners and rush workers. I fear in todays fast paced, mechanized and instant gratification society that the “Art of Seat Weaving” will be a lost art.
It is just a shame that so many beautiful works of art from long past artisans and craftsman are left to decay away after having withstood the test of time for hundreds of years.
I would implore anyone that preaches Recycling, Green Movement, and Saving a Tree to stop and look in shops, and at home for what they can do to practice what they preach “Breath New Life into an Old Chair” for generations to come.
RESOURCES TO REMEMBER
One important resource for finding Seat Weavers for all the various forms of seat weaving is the indispensable website resource that Cathryn Peters has built of the the past 20+ years. www.wickerwoman.com. Cathryn is both Professional Basket weaver and Seat Weaver. over the years she has built a whole compendium of information dedicated to Seat Weaving, including “The Seat Weaving & Chair Caning Forum” which you can ask any question on the subject and one of many professional Seat Weaver will respond to your question. Cathryn also has a blog “Weavin’ Wicker Woman” which includes updates and happenings, resources, facts and tips and much more.
One of the most important resources on the Wicker Woman site, it the “National Furniture Repair Directory” and indispensible guide to finding Seat Weavers and Chair Caners from across the country.
If you are need of any information on Seat Weaving or Seat Weavers in your area look no further, there is no better website out there and I have just listed a few links from her website, the site is filled with so much more information, please stop by, the Wicker Woman site is a learning experience in itself.