Wicker is an old term which refers to the use of pliable twigs, originally the twigs of trees such as willow, which were woven or shaped into forms useful for furniture or basketry. Since the mid-nineteenth century, the recognition that the core of the rattan vine could be used for this purpose and thereafter the widespread manufacturing of furniture made from strands of rattan, the term "wicker," has come to be used primarily to refer to furniture made from that material. This modern version of wicker furniture is characterized by panels of rattan strands woven on a loom, attached to rattan poles which have been shaped to form the structure of chairs of various designs, and which are decorated by strands of rattan bent and fastened into curlicues. While usually painted, these items are also often stained and coated with a clear finish.
The early twentieth century saw the widespread addition of a second material used to create woven furniture items. seagrass, whether twisted or braided, could also be woven in sheets, either on a loom or by hand, and formed onto rattan or wooden frames to create wicker furniture.
Numerous issues arise which require the efforts of an experienced hand to repair and recreate sections of damaged wicker. We want to illustrate for you on this page what can be done when there is a need to repair damaged areas of woven material on wicker furniture. We have a separate page focused on reweaving wicker furniture.
Among all items of wicker furniture, one of the more common requests we receive is for the repair of bassinets being readied for children or grandchildren. Following are some samples of work we have done.
Especially on the cover and back of this bassinet many of the swirling strands had broken. Several at the foot of the bassinet had broken as well. Hopefully they are easy enough to see in the detail to the right. With a careful look you will see more strands below.
The repairs on this bassinet are easy to see with the strongly contrasting colors. What needs to be stated is that with the tightness of the weave of this bassinet the repairs are difficult.
You can see the method someone had used to secure this broken joint before this came to us. Tape! It kind of worked. We did it better. We rewove both of the joints. Now they are strong and look good.
Windings had come unwound in numerous places as you can see above. Just below the loose windings you can also see that a spindle is missing. To the right these are both repaired. The cardboard is straightening bent curlicues.
Here is the entire cradle and stand. Very ornate. It is all repaired and refinished. Some little baby will have an amazingly nice place to start their life.
These two wicker rockers clearly needed extensive repairs. Repairs are made more difficult by the presence of paint so we normally insist that before doing repairs such as you see to the left and below that the paint be removed. In this case, these rockers were woven with paper wicker which would be ruined in stripping. The repairs are more difficult but still doable in this condition.
In addition to wanting the paint removed before doing the repairs, we want the paint removed before repainting or refinishing. Not an option with paper wicker. The rockers look fine in this photo. Up close you could see the uneven surface of the paint created by the broken surface of the underlying paint. Whenever we apply paint or a clear coating over any existing coating we offer no warranty on the expected life of what we apply. The weak condition of the existing paint will compromise the paint we apply. However, as we say so often on this site, we work for you, so we will do what you ask as long as you are willing to assume the related risks.
It is easy enough to see the strands of wicker we replaced on the chair to the right. The work here is not simply a matter of interweaving the replacement strands. Some of them must also be made to hold a permanent bend, to conform to the surrounding pattern of weave.
The two chairs above are a classic fan back wicker patio chair, originals dating from the nineteenth century, but also very popular in the 1970s. The wicker strands will become brittle and break and need to be replaced. The slightly lighter strands in the detail above left are replacement wicker. The replacement wicker is easier to make out in the detail of another pair of chairs pictured above right.
In order to properly reweave this section of the arm of a wicker chair, more of the old wicker had to be removed than is missing in the photo to the left. Things are not always as simple as they look! Once again a paper wicker is in use on this chair and we replaced with the same.
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The front edge of the seat and the skirt over the front right leg were rewoven with seagrass and with wicker braiding.
The wicker under the left arm, the outside of the holder under the right arm and the entire front skirt have been rewoven.
The entire left arm and side needed to be rebuilt and were rewoven with seagrass.
Once again paper wicker, originally woven on a loom then attached to the rattan frame and painted. This is fairly exacting work, to interweave the new wicker into damaged or weakened areas without extending the damaged area further. Skilled hands are needed for this job. The repaired areas appear brown.