Hand-twisted cattail rush-Throwback

Throw-back Thursdays–These photos of me weaving hand-twisted cattail rush seats were taken in 1982 when I already had about six years weaving the hand-twisted rush under my belt.

cpeters rush seat weaving 1982

As you might have guessed from the odd size of these photos, the pictures were taken with a camera that produced small, square pictures. Remember those old things?

We lived in Rochester, Minnesota at the time and were renting, so my weaving business was relegated to the unfinished basement.

hand-twisted cattail rush seating

I did quite a lot of wicker repair, chair caning and hand-twisted cattail rush for the antique businesses in Rochester during the 1980s.

Customers coming from all over the country would bring me projects to work on, when they had appointments at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. I did quite a lot of pieces for the Mayo Clinic too, but that’s fodder for another Throwback Thursday.

hand-twisted natural rush chairs

Wish I could have found a picture of the whole set, but this one with the three completed chairs was the best I could do.

The full set of six hand-twisted cattail leaf seat chairs was from a dealer I worked with a lot over the years. She had purchased them on a buying trip to England, and at the time, I was one of a handful of people across the country who did hand-twisted rush in either cattail leaves or bulrush.

What a big project that was and not without its challenges, but I was happy to work on this very old set the dealer said was from the 1800s. Wonder what ever happened to that set and how the seats held up over all the years?

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6 thoughts on “Hand-twisted cattail rush-Throwback”

  1. Kelly Hutchens

    I have 6 vintage ladder back bulrush weaved chairs in good condition and wondering their value for resale?

  2. We recently purchased a project! It is an old “Onodaga” outdoor chair made of white cedar. The natural material looks to me like twisted rush (I’m wondering if it may be twisted cattail-is there such a thing? This was made in upstate NY in Onodaga county more than 100 years ago) Three strands are braided together, then woven in a lovely basket weave with the braided material running vertically and a smaller, darker-colored single twisted strand running horizontally. The seat must be replaced and the back of the chair is damaged/discolored by mildew. Are you aware of any similar chair? This one is huge: the seat is 24″ wide and 21+ ” deep. The back is 48″ tall.

    1. Hmmm, I haven’t seen any Onodaga outdoor chairs in person Ann, but it sounds wonderful. The Arts & Crafts furniture company, Stickley, made a few but I’m not sure they were intended to be used outdoors and most that I’ve seen were upholstered. It is still possible to purchase braided grasses that could maybe be used to replace the seat if you wanted to keep the similar look as what’s in there now. But matching exactly would probably not be possible.

      If you don’t want to tackle the repairs yourself and would rather have someone else do it for you, then please check out my National Furniture Repair Directory™ to find someone near you to reweave the seat.

      Also, check out the supply companies on my Cane & Basket Supplies Directory™ to find a substitute for the braided strand material. I’d check Frank’s Cane & Rush Supply first, Mike has an amazing variety of materials on hand.

  3. Victoria Wilson-Charles

    Does anyone do this anymore? I have my great grandmother’s chairs and want to do them right!

    1. Hi Victoria,

      Yes, there are a few of us around the country that still do the hand-twisted natural rush using either cattails or bulrush. Check on my National Furniture Repair Directory™ to find a seatweaver that does hand-twisted rush. There is a fairly good and relatively inexpensive alternative which is called, “reel rush” or “pre-twisted natural rush” that many of the weavers use every day instead of the hand-twisted and it looks very nice. Reel rush or pre-twisted natural rush is readily available from the suppliers on my Cane & Basket Supplies Directory

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