Traditional rush weaving is a skilled craft that we think deserves some recognition and revival. We were mesmerized watching our talented designer, Amanda Walker, create the seat pads of two children’s chairs using nothing but paper rush and some clever twisting and weaving techniques. It may look complicated at first, but once you’ve mastered the pattern the chair will work up really quickly. The great thing is that you can apply this technique to seat pads of all sizes, so mummies and daddies can have matching chairs to the little ones!
First prepare the frame of the chair; if it has never been painted before it is recommended that a primer is used first. Wash and lightly sand the surface then apply the primer, leave to dry over night, then apply the top colour. Again leave for 24 hours before working on the chair. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for a perfect result.
Cut a length of rush from the roll, as long as you think you can manage and lightly dampen the paper cord. Begin by clamping or stapling one end of the cord to the inside of the left-hand side of the seat rail. Because this seat is slightly splayed at the front of the chair seat, the front rail will measure more than the back one; the front two corners of the new rush seat will need filling in to enable the mitred pattern to continue in a square.
Begin by wrapping the cord over the left-hand rail, through the middle, over the front rail, through the middle and back over the left hand rail and then across to the right hand rail, over this and up through the middle and over the front rail; up and over the right hand rail again and then back through the middle and over the left hand rail, through the middle and over the front rail. Repeat this process a couple more times until the exposed front rail measures the same as the back rail.
Now you have a square or rectangle to fill in and the weaving can be worked on all four rails. Start as before on the left-hand side rail, over the front rail, through the middle, over the left-hand side rail, through the middle and across to the right-hand rail, over this and up through the middle and over the front rail; this time continue through the middle up to the back right-hand rail, over through the middle, over the right-hand rail, through the middle, over the left-hand rail through the middle and over the back rail through the middle back to the beginning. You have now completed one round of the pattern.
A new length of cord is joined to the first using a reef knot in the middle of the seat; tie the cord ends, right over left and left over right. Pull the cords tight and trim away the excess. Continue working the pattern around the seat. If the seat is being formed on a rectangular shape a gap will appear as the pattern nears the centre; this area can be filled in by weaving to and fro in a figure of eight pattern. When it becomes difficult to thread the cord use something such as a blunt needle to open the gap. When the gap is filled, tie off the loose end around one of the cords underneath. Trim off the excess and the seat is complete.