Cannage XO, 2020
Black Rattan, steam beant table base by Derek Hennigar
Confessions of a shameless chair nerd. I am a 4th generation chair caner, an archivist, and an ambassador of the craft of Chair Caning & Seat Weaving. I have woven thousands of chairs with stories to tell. They are personal and functional, a snapshot in time and of the people who use them. I made it my mission to cull obscure information (from paintings, mentions in decorative arts case studies, images in books and on tv) and incorporate this unofficial history into my weaving classes. From Mid-Century Scandinavia to Middle Kingdom Egypt, woven chairs’ fascinating history is often overlooked in a piece of furniture used every day.
Weaving Tradition in New Designs. An infinite variety of patterns, materials, shapes, and construction elements are represented in this traditional craft. A comprehensive education is a decades-long endeavor. Woven chairs are trending in a big way in the 21st century. People are hungry to make, learn, and innovate. This caned table base is the result of a collaboration with Derek Hennigar of Ordinary Furniture for the Inspiration exhibit at the Folk Art Center in Asheville, NC. I love that it is not a chair.
Made of steam bent laminate oak, I thought that dyed black rattan would look posh and break with tradition as Derek has done with his tables. The vertically oriented 6-way pattern reminds me of a corset, a throwback to history in a very contemporary design. I was challenged by the curves themselves and bridging of each side with a central panel. I am immensely gratified that the suspended pattern was executed without losing the integrity of the traditional 6-way pattern. I love how the four panels of cane are separate yet continuous. I want to see what other impossible shapes can be caned.
Silver River Center for Chair Caning is an Official Education Center of the Southern Highland Craft Guild. Brandy Clements & Dave Klingler created a chair caning museum and school to educate the masses and to show the diversity of the ancient and global craft. They attend conferences to learn the academic side of chair history and design and they travel across the US & UK to study in museums and with contemporary craftspeople. They demonstrate at galleries, museums, schools, conferences, and craft shows, as well as daily in their River Arts District studio. Classes are available online, in person at Silver River, and on location at esteemed venues like Arrowmont and John C. Campbell Folk School. They teach kids, adults, and unsuspecting strangers who find themselves in their presence.