The ancient and most recognizable woven pattern on open frame seats is the diagonal cross pattern using rush, aka cattail. Because it is so time consuming to do and so expensive to have done, many alternate materials and patterns have been developed. On this page we introduce two materials derived from the glossy outer skin of the rattan plant. Binder cane and shaved slab are the same as the common cane used for hand woven seats except that they are cut in larger widths.
Binder cane is sliced from the outer glossy skin of a rattan pole, as is the narrower sizes of cane for woven seats. Binder cane is distinguished from standard seat cane by its slightly wider dimensions. Binder cane is used to bind off the outer perimeter of hand cane seats and derives its name from that most common use. It is also used on open frames to create a number of very attractive woven patterns. The standard is the herringbone or twill pattern seen to the right. Additionally, there are diamond and multiple diamond patterns, diagonal cross patterns, basket, arrow, zig zag, square and multiple square patterns. Also, patterns used on danish style furniture can be woven with binder cane.
Shaved slab is simply uber sized shavings from the skin of rattan poles. It is super-sized binder cane and can be woven in the same patterns as binder cane with the exception of danish pattern weaves. Because of its larger dimensions, it yields a less formal, less refined look than binder cane. Stick furniture, porch rockers and other rustic appearing pieces are most likely to be seen woven with shaved slab.
The detail of the herringbone pattern above right is taken from the back of the chair just below. Here you can see the progress from the dilapidated condition it was in when it came to us, to the old cane and finish removed and the open frame ready to be rewoven, and finally the completed chair, refinished and rewoven. We also provide a detail indicating the way the challenge of a curved back was dealt with in reweaving this rocker.
This is what it looks like as the binder cane is being woven into the herringbone pattern. All the verticals are strung first. Then the horizontals are woven through them. This chair, unlike the other two pictured here, has a top rail the weave needs to wrap. It can also be seen that the herringbone pattern can descend either to the right as on this and the above chair, or to the left, as on the chair to the left.
Another rocker with binder cane in a herringbone pattern. The color difference is the camera flash, not refinishing.
This is a second very common way binder cane is used, on Danish Modern furniture from the mid twentieth century. The very appealing open box weave, sometimes called the Swedish box pattern, is perhaps the most unusual use of binder cane. It is not the strongest, most durable pattern however, we regularly reweave chairs with this pattern. We also show below a folding chair with the typical danish basket weave pattern.
We didn't think to snap a picture of the whole chair when completed, but this is a platform rocker.
Clearly a typical rocker in the danish style. A loose seat cushion sits on top of the springs.
We thought it might be interesting to show both binder cane and danish cord in this typical 2x2 basket weave pattern. The material makes a big difference in the look!
We rewove then refinished this rocker. The detail photos below show what a flash will do! The finished color was what you see to the left.
Coloring cane is always difficult because its surface is slick and non porous. It takes stain unevenly and poorly. In both photos you can see that the color of the wood surfaces is even but on the cane it is variegated. Because it is so hard to color evenly, cane is typically coated with a finish that is somewhat colored. The problem with this way of coloring cane is that the finish does not stick well. How many times have you seen cane chairs with the finish beginning to chip off? When it chips off you see the whitish natural color underneath.
We recommend that you approach coloring cane in a minimalist way. Don't either attempt or expect much. Be willing to enjoy a contrast!
Shaved slab is such a large stranded material that its use is limited. The most common place it is used is on "stick chairs," as is seen below. Stick chairs are obviously intended to look rustic. The large stranded slab works well with a rustic look.
These are both 2x2 basket weave patterns. The difference is simply that one is woven tightly leaving no openings in the weave, the other is woven loosely, leaving openings. Simple.
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