Lost Arts studio

A lot of the fiber arts I enjoy are things like tatting, netmaking, chair caning, and even weaving, where people will come up to me when I demonstrate and solemnly tell me, "That's a lost art."

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Location: SW Outer Nowhere, Michigan, United States

On the Internet, nobody knows you're a chicken. (With apologies to Peter Steiner.)

10 April 2006

Back to School

After a week of spring break, our son is back in school. Our little school has nice wooden floors, so all winter the kids wear slippers inside, leaving their snowy or muddy boots in the coatroom. The Friday before spring break was also "Last day of slippers." So today for the first time since early winter, they got to wear shoes in the classroom again. "This feels weird!" my son said.

After I dropped him off, I saw two pheasants on the way home.

Tonight is the West Michigan Lace Group meeting at the Byron Township Library. I haven't been tatting -- I've been knitting socks and a "smoke ring". So I'm not sure what I'll bring with me tonight.

I've been dithering. Should I post another "dead Buick" or not? If anything, this one has been hanging around even longer than the finally-ended belt I had on my knitting frame. Oh, what the hey! Maybe this will inspire me to get going on it!

This very nice egg-seat chair has been waiting for me to re-cane the seat. For, um, years. It definitely qualifies as a "dead Buick in the driveway" !

I learned to cane chairs by buying a book (The Caner's Handbook) and practicing on chairs for my mother and grandfather. Since I already weave, weaving with cane was not that much of a jump. I learned a lot of things. For example, if you are learning to cane a chair in your bathroom because it's handy to keep the cane soaking in a plastic footbath in the bathtub, close the toilet seat. (Do you really need details?)

Another thing is that caners earn every cent of their $1.50 per hole, or whatever they are charging in your area. Caning is labor-intensive, or to put it in short, easy words, it's hours of hand work. There really aren't any shortcuts. And since a good recaning job might last anywhere from 10 to 20 years, if you divide the cost out over the life of the new seat, it isn't that expensive.

A third thing I learned is not to try and recane a chair in the middle of a Michigan winter with the overhead furnace blower kicking on every 20 minutes. It dries the soaked cane out too fast, and it turns to dry spaghetti! The cane acts a lot like pasta. Get it wet, and you can weave it, twist it, pull it, tie it in knots. Get it dry, and it is brittle and prone to breaking.

Michigan is a tough environment for a cane seat. We have cold winters, which means low humidity and dry heat. Then we have humid summers, but air conditioning dries out the air again.

Weaving with cane is a little like weaving with linen. Linen and cane both like moisture. Damp, humid air is gravy to them. So a Michigan summer, with 70 or 80 or 90 percent humidity, is a perfect time to weave with linen (no warp dressing necessary) or to cane a chair. I hope to have this chair done by then!

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