The material that I chose to use is fibre rush. This is a paper product that imitates the look of natural rush and has been in use since the early 1900’s. I had planned on researching and writing a thorough post on fibre rush, but Cathryn Peters (wickerwoman.com) has a “history of” article on here site that covers it. Jump over there and have a read and then come back. I’ll wait…
…to understand the weaving process I read through the articles on Ms. Peters’ site, bought a small booklet on the subject and watched a bunch on YouTube videos. The most helpful video, by far, was Ed Hammond’s (peerlessrattan.com) video.
Having prepared as much as I could, there was nothing left to do but jump in and do it. So I gathered my supplies and tools and settled in for a long afternoon.
The pattern is a simple over-under and progresses counter-clockwise around the stool.
While the pattern is simple, the nuances that are the hallmarks of skill and proficiency are not. As with most hings handwork, these must be earned with time on task. Where to push and where to pull? How hard? How large a coil of material can I work with? On and on. The thing that I struggled with the most is how to handle and turn the coil as I weaved. The loose coil of rush must be continually rotated, in the correct direction, else the strand will untwist and leave you with a string of flat paper. I fought this all afternoon! Constantly having to stop and re-twist the strand.
There is a rhythm that began to reveal itself as the afternoon wore on and I became more and more comfortable with the process. Over the rail, up through the middle…over the rail up through the middle. Even so, my progress was clumsy at best, but I managed to get the first seat completed.
This first seat is presentable and I’m confident that the next one will improve in both execution and speed. This first round of weaving took me six hours! I also woefully underestimated how hard this process would be on my fingers. My thumbs and index fingers are raw and sore. So either tape or gloves will be needed for the weaving of the next seat.