Discovering Rattan

Course Information

Rattan is a natural palm fiber long used for furniture making. My course offered at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Rockport Maine provides a strong technical foundation for participants who want to employ it creatively in contemporary work, although it is also useful for anyone who wants to repair existing rattan pieces. Starting with a bare frame that we provide, students work with round reed, flat-oval reed, half-round reed, and wood to create their own versions of a small table that I have designed to convey a variety of weaves and methods of attachment. Work is done primarily with hand tools such as hammers and nails, drills, pliers, utility knives, and chisels. If time allows, the table may be followed by the start of an independent project.

Technical instruction begins with the selection and soaking of reed and concludes with singeing reed with a propane torch to remove raised fibers, sanding, and finishing. In between, students learn structural applications such as reinforcing joints with flat-oval reed and how to lay out, cut, bend, taper, and install diagonal support braces. I introduce a variety of decorative and structural weaves, ways of creating patterns with spokes, wrapping techniques, and much, much more.

Learn more about this class and others on the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship website.