February 9, 2008

My Mom called asking for the number of the little old lady who canes chairs around here. For years this lady, Hazel, has cornered the caning market. It is a dwindling skill. But I said, "Ho ho, we are of the Fairy Circle and we have made baskets and certainly baskets can't be all that different from caned chairs? Let me order some supplies and we'll give it a go."

She brought over this stool. She remembers her mother buying it in the early 1950s. It has never been re caned. It is showing some wear.

Here is the inside of the old seat we cut out. Notice the individual canes are just tied together. Our modern little pamphlet on chair caning says to staple them. I knew that wouldn't have been the way it was done on the prairie hundreds of years ago. Certainly I didn't need a stapler. But if I hadn't found these knots here holding well 58 years after they had been tied, I never would have believed knotting might work. Those soaking canes? They represent about $7.00 worth of materials, which is my cost estimate for this project. Other than what you see, we used some string, a screw driver for prying where our fingers couldn't, and pliers for grabbing where our fingers couldn't.

I guess this new seat took us about an hour and a half. Including pulling it all out and restarting it once. We tried to replicate the original herring bone pattern and couldn't. So we improvised. We learned that next time we will figure out the herring bone pattern. Our improvisational pattern wedged the canes unevenly. However, it held Mom up just fine when we were finished. And it was an empowering experiment. We'll be doing more of this. Looks like there are some new caners in town!

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