Posted 10 years ago
The first picture is the finished woven seat. The second is the seat with three coats of shellac on it. The best way to keep these chair seats in good shape is when they get down to the paper (that is what fiber rush is the kind of paper that paper bags are made of) is to put another coat of shellac over it, or what ever finish was used some of the newer seats have urethane finishes on them. Antique dealers like to say you shouldn't but most say that because they don't realize that these chair seats in most cases have already been replaced. Cattails or Bull rush or even Iris leaves are what was used in the making of real rush chair seats. They only last 20 to 30 years and they only lasted that long if the owner took care of them by putting coats of shellac on the seats as they need it. These natural fibers dry out and become brittle if they aren't protected they dry out just like the leaves on the ground. If you have ever crushed a dried tree leaf and watched it turn to dust that is what happens to unprotected Rushed or caned seating (cane seating should be oiled with Lemon oil or Howard's Orange oil & Bee's wax to keep it from drying out) cane and real rush chairs should be kept away from heat runs and/or radiators also. I know some chair cane has a finish of some sort on it those if original were dipped or sprayed when manufactured to help speed up the process. It takes about 4-6 years to get the nice medium to dark cane color that people like if you oil it properly it darkens quicker. I'm not trying to sound like a know it all I just hope I can help people keep their antiques and prized family heirlooms in nice shape. It is very expensive to replace seating. But at the price of good well made new furniture. Chairs and tables and other pieces alike restoring and keeping the old family pieces in good condition is cheaper in the long run.