Caning & Rushing
Caning and rushing are two techniques using wood material to create woven patterns and textures on furniture. There are a variety of weaving techniques, patterns and designs including:
Caning is not a particularly accurate term. Rattan tree bark is used to create this technique versus cane. Cane seating provides ventilation and rattan bark is also insect resistant.
Caning dates back thousands of years — a cane bed was even found in Tutankhamun’s tomb.
There are two main types of caning: Hand-Caning and Pre-Woven Cane.
HAND-CANING refers to the technique requiring strands of cane to be woven by hand through holes that are drilled in the frame of the chair, thereby creating the familiar octagon pattern.
Different gauges of cane are used to suit the design of the chair and size of the drilled holes, but all woven in the same 7-step pattern. The 7-step method of hand chair caning tedious and time-consuming to weave, but a lovely, strong and durable pattern when completed. There are other designs that can be woven through the holes, but this one has proven to be the most durable and long lasting.
PRE-WOVEN CANE refers to a sheet of cane that is already woven and comes in a variety of weave patterns. Pre-woven cane is attached to a frame via a machined groove around the edge. This loom woven technique of caning and mechanized groove cutting dates back to the 1870s.
FANCY CANE (SPIDERWEB, STAR OF DAVID, DAISY, and SNOWFLAKE CANE) are fancy, intricate and advanced cane weaving designs. Since these weaves are not as durable, they are usually applied only to backs of Victorian chairs and rockers, rather than the seats.
BLIND CANING (FRENCH CANING, CONTINENTAL CANING) are woven in the traditional 7-step method design, with regular strand cane, but the holes drilled in the framework do not go all the way through the wood. Blind Caning is usually reserved for the backs or under the arms of chairs rather than the seats, because it’s a delicate weave and not very strong.
BINDER CANE (PORCH CANE, WIDE BINDING CANE, or SLAB RATTAN) uses 4, 5 or 6 MM cane, or slab rattan. The pattern can be in a basket weave, diamond or herringbone twill pattern around the four rungs or dowels that make up the seat and/or back of a chair. The cane strands used are much wider, and woven in a different pattern than traditional hole-to-hole cane.
SPLINTS are prepared strips of ash, oak, rattan reed or hickory bark, woven around the seat rungs or dowels of chairs, rockers and settees. The pattern is typically a herringbone twill or basketweave design using a 3x3 or 4x4 herringbone twill design on the top side with a wider 5x5 twill weave on the bottom.
Revitaliste’s skilled artisans are able to repair or replace caning to match the original color including all the effects that aging and sunlight has had on the original panel.
Rushing is the technique of weaving natural or fiber rush around the four seat rungs or dowels, forming four distinct triangles in the seat pattern.
NATURAL RUSH is typically found in museum pieces or fine old antique chairs that are woven with bulrush or cattail leaves for authenticity, but because of the degree of difficulty in weaving, extensive time involved, and cost/availability of materials, it is less common in more modern furniture.
FIBER RUSH is a man-made, tough twisted paper product that’s cheaper and easier to use than cattail leaves or bulrush. Usually used on newer chairs, paper twist or paper rush comes in a continuous strand and is very durable, lastly considerably longer than natural rush. Traditional paper rush is frequently found on Colonial style, mule-ear style and other post and rail modern chair seats, and was also used in weaving wicker furniture from the 1910s-1940s.
CHECKERBOARD SEAGRASS OR CORDING is usually woven with Oriental seagrass, Danish cord or other types of cording to create a checkerboard pattern often seen in mid-century furniture.
RUSTIC / LATTICE technique uses rawhide strips or sometimes flat reed splints that are woven on chairs, rockers, and couches in a very open weave. It looks similar to lattice work fences or panels and is found frequently on rustic, Adirondack, or cowboy style furniture.
DANISH MODERN CORD made popular in the 1950s, uses 2-ply laced Danish cord, or wide-binding cane, in a basket weave design found on mid-century danish modern furniture. The strands may be looped around special “L” shaped nails on the inside side rails.
It is possible to repair damaged rush-woven chairs, although it is usually more aesthetically pleasing and cost-effective to completely replace all the weave.