Reigning Cane: What You Need to Know
And we love how it’s been used in so many designs, both traditional and modern. For our purposes, cane as a motif and trend refers to any octagon-weave “fabric” used in furniture insets, but it’s important to know that in in technically correct furniture descriptions, cane will refer to the material, not the pattern.
Cane is a material that comes from the rattan plant, but, like wicker, it’s often used interchangeably with a specific open-webbed pattern of octagon holes for chair seats and backs made with rattan cane. The pattern was originally created via hole-to-hole weaving, but most modern furniture uses cane sheets of pre-woven cane webbing that’s pressed and glued into grooves into the furniture frame.
But there are also other types of cane weaves besides the iconic “lace” pattern. Twill, herringbone, diamond or diamond motifs can be highlighted using alternate strands of heavier-gage cane dyed in a contrasting color. In short: if the material used is cane, it’s technically, and by definition, a caned chair.
Most furniture restorers who repair and re-cane chairs also repair rush seats, and while it’s possible to use cane to create the rush-seat pattern, most rush seats or backs are made with rushes (water reeds like bullrushes, cattails, etc) , rope, or synthetic fibers.
Caning is a centuries-old technique that’s been re-invented and re-invigorated many times.