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Canework. Weaving cane, as a method of chair seating was first introduced into England during the second half of the 17th century. Early canework had a coarse broad weave due to the holes in the chair framework being widely spaced. Cane seats were popular as they were seen as clean and hygienic - parasites, mites and other bugs had nowhere to live in the weave - the opposite of most early upholstered seats!

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Towards the end of the 17th century the pattern became finer and more closely woven eventually giving us the delicate six way weave that we are familiar with today. An example of the six way weave is pictured on the right.

In the last quarter of the 18th century, panels of oval or rectangular cane work were occasionally introduced as decorative elements in chair backs with caned seats to match. This was then developed further to form radial and medallion patterns. The use of canework gradually spread to other domestic furniture such as bed heads, screens and bergere suites.

The popularity of canework has remained virtually constant where even today a good percentage of modern furniture has some canework either for its decorative qualities or for its practicality. However, many items of modern furniture are no longer hand woven instead pre-woven sheets of cane are held in place by strips of centre cane driven into a groove in the wooden framework.

M.E.L. specialise in both hand weaving and pre-woven canework restoration.

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Cartmel, Cumbria, LA11 6HF, UK.


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