Dried out teak steamer chair before restoration

One chair after restoration

Set of 3 chairs restored

New cane for chinoiserie chair

New cane for Bergere chair

Cane and Rush Seating

Cane Seating

Split cane or rattan is imported from Malaya and Indonesia in six widths, covering the most delicate work up to the broad edging of some large chairs. The cane is woven in long lengths through holes in the sides of the chair. Modern furniture typically uses pre-woven sheet cane secured into grooves. These modern chairs can also be re-seated, but the sheet material can not be used on the older chairs which have to be hand woven.

It is not normally possible to repair cane or rush seats; once there is a break it is a sure sign that the material is brittle and must be completely replaced. New cane does not match the old, even if a repair could be made.

Cane is a light colour when first used and darkens naturally with age. Staining is not very successful due to the hardness of the cane resisting the dye and the impossibility of staining the overlaps.

Rush Seating

The raw material is the English green rush or Scirpus Cacustris from the fen country and the River Thames. The rushes, which can be up to ten feet in length, are harvested in late July or early August. Unlike cane, rush is worked damp and is continually twisted to a uniform using one,two or three strands together. All knots (tying one rush to the next) are made underneath the seat.

When first completed a rushed chair has a beautiful appearance with the rush showing many shades of colour ranging from the predominant green to yellow and brown. With time these colours fade to the fawn shade we usually associate with rush.

Rush chairs can appear deceptively simple to restore, however each rush varies in thickness and the rushes have to be woven together expertly to maintain a uniform, neatly woven appearance. There is an enormous difference between the finished product of an expert and even a craftsperson of moderate skill. The woven rush should be of uniform and also the pattern should be uniform with no gap in the centre of the seat and no sag.