Common Questions Asked About The Weaving Materials

Questions about cane.....


What is cane?

What we refer to as cane is rattan, a vine which grows in tropical forests. Hand cane is almost like a "potato peeling" taken from the outer skin of the vine, whereas centre cane/reed and splint are made from the inner pith of the plant.

How "eco friendly" are your materials?

More eco friendly than people imagine. Rattan is a major industry in South East Asia supporting many small village economies. Most of the time the whole community will be involved in the collection and processing of rattan. There are currently several government initiatives to support sustainable farming of the vine in rattan growing parts of the world. This also means that tracts of tropical forest have to be maintained in order to support the rattans growth.

Our paper products are all produced for us in the UK by a long established manufacturer. The wood pulp used is from sustainable resources.

Is cane weaving difficult to do?

No, it is a matter of taking one stage at a time. It is time consuming, but can be mesmerising and addictive, a bit like jigsaw puzzles.

Can I "cheat" and put cane panelling into an old chair with holes around the edge instead of weaving it myself?

NO!! The strength of hole to hole traditional hand caned seats is gained from the weaving in and out through the holes in the seat frame with the individual cane strands. Pre-woven cane panelling gains its strength by being fitted to the specially designed chairs in an entirely different way, usually by being pressed into a groove then glued and fixed by a filet piece of cane. Pre-woven panelling is also too "uniform" in its weave to correspond to the weave normally found on a hand crafted seat.

How do I know what sizes of cane to use?

Take a 6 inch ruler and lay it along the cane holes drilled through the seat frame, then count the number of complete holes within the 6 inches. Most English chairs have between 9 and 11 holes per 6 inches so will usually need 2.0mm and 2.5mm cane, if there are more holes than this then the cane will need to be smaller, less and the cane will need to be larger. We can help you to work it out if you know the "holes to 6 inch" statistic.

The cane in my chair is original, won't I devalue the chair when I replace it?

No, canework is acceptable restoration, re-done well it will enhance the item value. Incidentally, it can never be taken for granted that the cane you are looking at is necessarily original. Rattan is a natural material which degrades, goes brown, brittle then breaks with age. It would be very unusual indeed for a seat panel to last more than 50-70 years.

Can I tint the cane to make it look old again? The new cane just looks too bright and creamy coloured.

Yes you can by using pigments which will dye the cane in much the same way that henna dyes hair. It will need to be sealed in once the pigment mix is dry, and will take the cane to a gentler more antique colour without damaging it. We supply small bags of our own mixture of pigments along with instructions if it helps.

How do I know which holes to weave the diagonal canes through and which holes to miss out - help?!!

Caning a chair seat is "Art not Science". The weave must look right to they eye. Before you weave the diagonal cane through the hole, lay it loosely over the top first and then stand back - if the strand looks to be at the correct angle and doesn't look forced or bent, then you've found the right hole to weave through.

Will your standard hand cane kit be enough for my chair?

The standard kit is designed to complete an average bedroom chair (9-11 holes per 6") with up to 100 holes drilled around the perimeter of the seat frame and seat rails no deeper than 1". We include a seriously generous amount of materials plus an extra 10% "just in case". Lots of our customers inform us that they had enough left over to almost complete a second seat!

How long will my first cane seat take to weave?

Well...that's a bit of a "how long is a piece of string.." question, but most people seem to take between 8 and 12 hours for their first attempt. However, please remember that you don't have to do all of the work in one sitting, you can spread it over days or even weeks.

And some questions about rush weaving.....


Isn't rushwork physically hard work and tough on your hands?

Yes.....and no. Hand twisting rushes from the river is dirty, time consuming and can be quite rough on your hands, but it doesn't need super physical strength. Working with modern pre-twisted cords is much cleaner and less demanding.

Will putting a modern pre-twisted rush cord on my antique chair devalue it?

No. Re-rushing will not damage the seat frame in the same way as repeated upholstery work could. If value is important because maybe you want to sell the item or it is of museum/notable quality, then by all means take advice, do some research and re-seat with the correct original material used. But if you want to keep and use the chair, then there is nothing wrong with using a modern cord as long as it is done properly. At any stage in the future, a knife will quickly remove the modern material and it can be replaced with the original intended without doing any damage. Better to re-seat than not though, any chair without a seat can soon become a large neglected ornament!

My chair is woven in the rush pattern with seagrass, shouldn't I replace it with that again?

If your chair dates from the pre-war period or earlier, then it is very likely that the seat has been replaced at some later stage with seagrass because it was the only alternative available at the time. Seagrass doesn't work well in the rush "triangle" pattern, it tends to sag in the middle and roll at the mitres. There are chairs which had seagrass seats originally, but they were usually woven in a geometric or chequerboard type of weave. If you want to put the rush pattern into your chair seat, paper fibre will work much better than seagrass.

Do you need to soak the rush before use?

"Reel rush" needs to be soaked for about an hour and then allowed to "mellow", (soften) for a little while before use. Paper fibre on the other hand needs just a very quick dip in a bucket of water before use. Too long in water will make the fibre soggy.

Any more questions? Ask us........