What really is “wicker furniture” and what all does that word encompass? The word “wicker” is used to describe any woven furniture (or basket) that’s made with pliable materials.
Some of those materials might be rattan reed, willow, paper fibre rush, cane, or grasses, and most recently plastic or resin strands. But many times “wicker” is mistakenly thought of and referred to, as an actual plant or material itself.
The word “wicker” actually refers to the “act of weaving” with pliable fibers. Or, it’s the final woven end product such as a wicker table, chair, couch, lamp, or buggy, but it is not an actual weaving material. There is no such thing as a true material or plant called wicker.
Frequently any type of round plant material such as willow or round rattan reed is referred to as having a “wicker weave” though. See the Article–Materials Used in Antique Wicker Furniture for a detailed description of the most commonly used materials.
Most antique wicker furniture is totally woven using either rattan reed or paper fibre rush on hardwood steam-bent frames. This kind of antique totally woven wicker furniture is not to be confused with “cane” seat chairs like the one pictured here on the right .
The chair to the right is made entirely of wood with a handwoven hole-to-hole cane seat applied to the frame.
It is frequently referred to as a “wicker seat” by the general public, but in reality should be referred to as a handwovencane seat chair.
These primarily wooden furniture pieces with woven seats or backs are named after the pattern design and type of material used in the weaving, rather than the generic term, “wicker.”
For an explanation and photos of the various types of chair seat weaving, including chair caning, visit the Seatweaving #101 page.
For the remainder of this wicker information resource page, we will concern ourselves with antique wicker furniture from the 1870s-1940s, made using primarily rattan reed and paper fibre.
Preserving and Caring for Antique Wicker Furniture~~
“Once Antique Wicker Is Gone, It’s Gone Forever!”
Try everything you can to care for wicker and preserve those fine antique pieces; repair, restore and refurbish. Sometimes all they may need is a new coat of paint or to be cleaned up; treasure your family heirlooms and flea market finds!
And remember, you can’t make another antique to take it’s place, a reproduction is just that, a reproduction. For answers to your most pressing questions about wicker furniture care, how-to paint wicker, remove urine smell, or perhaps learn o do-it-yourself repairs, check out the Wicker FAQ or Frequently Asked Questions page.
Visit Your Wicker Restoration Specialist or Seat Weaver First!
There are very few antique wicker repair experts left across the nation, so when you do find one, be prepared to go on a waiting list for the appointment. To find out the quality of the work these experts perform, ask to see some recently completed pieces, or see their “before and after” photo album, or ask to speak with some of their customers. Here is my Before & After Wicker Furniture photo album on PictureTrail.
What Do Wicker Repairs Cost?
Your restoration person will probably give you a repair cost estimate and an approximate time needed to complete the work. It may take days or months to completely restore your wicker piece depending on severity of damage, shop scheduling and other factors, but ask for an estimate on turn-around time. Ask for a receipt, a work order, or job order, something proving you left the item in their care.
Here are some step-by-step pictures on how-to repair wicker furniture, to give you an idea of the process.
If woodworking repairs must be done before the wicker repairs, many wicker restoration specialists or furniture refinishers are also terrific woodworkers. Or if they don’t do woodworking, probably can point you to someone that does. The same applies for painting wicker, some shop owners do their own, and many farm that expertise out.
Determining Wicker Furniture Value~~ Is It Worth Repairing?
Sometimes the repair costs far outweigh the value of the wicker item and in that case, you must ask yourself if it’s worth getting it repaired. Do you want the repairs made because it’s a precious family heirloom, does it have sentimental value, damage is being paid by your insurance company, or are you getting it repaired for resale? All these questions are valid and the answers will help make your decision.
If you want to make the repairs yourself and need the materials, instruction books and tools, get your cane & basket supplies here. The Wicker Woman does not sell retail supplies, except to students in her classes, so provides these advertisers for your benefit.
You can also Shop the Bookstore for the instruction books to complete your wicker repair projects and/or to learn more about this wonderful antique and modern wicker furniture industry!
Wicker Furniture Appraisal Service
If your wicker repair shop does appraisals ask them what qualifications and certifications they have to back up this service. For a competent and valid appraisal, the person giving it should be a certified antique wicker appraiser.
Their certification proves that he has done the research, taken the classes, and past all the tests, which also means he should be compensated monetarily for his expertise. Also ask what you will get in return for paying for their appraisal.
Although I have been in the business of wicker restoration and sales since 1975, I am not certified to make appraisals on wicker furniture, and will not honor the requests at this time.
However, I highly recommend Richard Saunders as a certified wicker furniture appraiser. He’s now located in Savannah, Georgia and has been a certified wicker furniture appraiser since 1983. He’s also written six books on the wicker furniture industry is advertising his services on my Furniture Repair Directory, Wicker Experts section.
For online appraisals or to do your own research, check out the websites I’ve listed on Wicker FAQ or do your own online research. And remember, you can always go to your local library and research wicker furniture price books there.
FURNITURE REPAIR DIRECTORY–TLC for your furniture!
CUSTOMERS: Visit the National Furniture Repair Directory to find an expert in Wicker Repair, Seatweaving, Upholstery, or Furniture Stripping & Repair near you to fix or restore your family heirlooms or flea market finds! Be sure to check all disciplines, because there’s a lot of cross-over, especially between Wicker Repair and Seatweaving.
BUSINESS OWNERS: Click on the Advertise page link to get your business listed today! Choose one of four sections or take out several ads–Get the visibility your chair caning, upholstery, wicker, or refinishing business deserves! Advertise your repair business on the longest running, most successful Repair Directory of its kind on the Net, the National Furniture Repair Directory™ on WickerWoman.com!
SEATWEAVERS & CHAIR CANING BOARD FORUM™
Professional, hobbyists and beginning chair caners and wicker repair experts now have their own discussion, message board forum at Seatweaving & Chair Caning Forum–The Caner’s Community Hub™
If you are in the business of chair caning, wicker repair, upholstery or refinishing and want to stay connected to others in the field, have business problems you want to discuss, or just plain want to chat, register to join in on the conversations anytime! Hope to see you soon!