Sunday, June 24, 2007

One Fine Productive Summer

At least this year I can say that I got something constructive done during the summer.

With my own hands, yes, I caned two chair bottoms. Keep your admiration and awe to a minumum; caning these chairs was easy. The caning material is "pre-manufactured," that is, it is pre-woven. All I had to do was dig out the old caning material (including the spline and decades-old glue), cut the cane and the splice pieces to size, soak the materials in warm water, fit it all together and glue the splines in place. Each chair from start to finish took probably three to four hours. Most of that time was spent carefully cleaning the old glue and materials out of the grooves so as not to damage the wood.

History of the chairs: These belonged to my maternal grandmother. She was the last person to cane them, and my estimate is that she did so in the late 1950s. I remember them in her kitchen when I was a small girl; her friends would sit in them around the kitchen table to play Euchre with her. (If you don't know what Euchre is, then you probably are not from this area of the United States!) Grandma died in 1975, and the cane was just starting to break in a few places then. I have been the steward of these chairs ever since.

It was an interesting experience, to remove the work she had done decades ago and to replace it with my own. I have a book of instructions that I use, but it often felt as if she were there with me as I worked the cane into the grooves and tapped the splines in place to secure the cane. At times, I understood just how the cane should react; other times, it was as if I could hear her say, "See? That's why you pull the diagonal cane corners before you tap the spline!" Working on this project was meditative. I became lost in time as I listened to the wood. And now I want to finish caning her old rocking chair that I've kept in storage. I abandoned this project two years ago. This one is much harder; it requires that I weave individual strands of cane. When I thought I was nearly finished with the back of the chair, I realized that I had been weaving the cane too tightly. I need to start over, and I need to cane the seat.

But for now I have two kitchen chairs that match, are reasonably comfortable, and that don't look like I dug them out of the dumpster at Goodwill.


Jinserai said...

Caning chairs?! For shame, woman. That sort of corporeal punishment went out of style years ago, unless you're the Thai Govt. I suppose. And what the hell did those chairs do to you anyway?

Domhan said...

They pinched my ass, that's what they did!

This should serve a good lesson for the toilet seat.

Candy Rant said...

You are so frigging cool. Caning chairs and then writing something meditative about it.

As opposed to me. I scratched my ass and ate a Reese Cup.

Domhan said...

Mmmmmmm, Resse Cups.

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