Not rushing – recaining a chair

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A few months ago Jam’s dad gave me this beautiful corner chair, the seat was broken and he thought I’d enjoy the challenge of fixing it. It’s been say in the spare room for a couple of months till I realised the most wonderful Ardington School of craft had a re-caining course. A place was swifty booked, so on two of the most beautiful days of June I went to meet Tony Handley who showed me how caine seating works.

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The man, the legend. First up you have to wet the reeds.

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The reeds themselves were not what I was expecting at all, looking at the seat as it was I expected them to be dry and brown but when they were wetted they were a beautiful lush green.

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(the brown you can see is silt from the riverbed that was on them, they were also full of air which we had to force out causing a wicked crack sound). The next step was out with the old (very dusty) reeds.

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Naked chair! To start the weaving off you have to tie on the rushes.

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And then start working round your corners.

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The work itself involves twisting the reeds, but like spinning you have to try and keep the same thickness. After you’ve done a few you have to trim your ends & if your is a deep seat like mine you have to stuff some reeds into the gaps between the new reeds you have put in (between the top & bottom of the seat). The thing I had problems with was keeping the tension in the reeds, every half turn you have to join in new reeds and this is where your tension is really crucial.

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Tony pushing the reeds taught. Once all the corners were done the gap in the middle became very small very quickly.

Cain chair 039By this point my class mates who were doing properly square chairs (mine wasn’t quite) were pretty much done. Lets look at their pretty things:

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What a lovely chair. Does it work?Cain chair 035

Indeed it does! And so after looking at my classmates lovely things it was back to my mountain. The chair back had narrow splits through which the reeds had to be passed through. At this point Tony and his reed leaver took over:

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I was really nervous pushing them through in case they broke (and it was at this point I twisted anti clockwise i.e. the wrong way). Before I knew it the chair was finished. What a beauty (I did go the wrong way with a couple of the twists actually, but I think that proves I did the majority of it). Here’s the finished thing:

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I did also take some rush home as our neighbour Trish has a footstool for me to work on, no rushing but the work starts here!

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Fabulous course, fabulous tutor, after the first day I wasn’t sure I could do it, but I did, a wonderful craft & course, one chair down, plenty more to go!


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