Rush Weaving - A Potted History

Scirpus Lacustris

Rush seating is a very old craft - examples have been found in the tombs of Egypt, and in England the craft has been practised since the 14th Century. It became very popular on country made furniture during the 17th and 18th centuries then enjoyed a revival at the end of the 19th century when the top "Arts and Crafts" designers admired its purity and simplicity. Unfortunately the revival was short lived and the popularity of rush as a seating material declined during the first half of this century, partly due to the lack of skilled labour. Many of the rush workers and harvesters were men who never returned from the two great wars, the craft suffered as a result. With the recent interest in both old crafts and vintage furniture, rush seating is once again enjoying a revival. It is not a difficult craft - with practise anyone can create a good hard wearing seat, and the mellow tones of a rush seat seem to fit in with any decorating scheme or period of furnishing. There are now many new alternative materials available, like paper fibre and pre-twisted cords which are so much easier for the novice to use, making the craft even more accessible to all. We can replace any type of rush seat for you, to see our price guide, please visit the paper fibre replacement services page here, or for real rush material replacement, visit our page here.

The traditional rush pattern resembles an envelope in shape. It is created using a single continuous strand of the chosen seating material. This strand passes over and round the front rail, through the centre of the seat, then over and round the left-hand adjacent side rail. From here the strand is bought up through the centre of the seat again then over and round the right hand side rail, through the centre and over and round the front rail. This is the basic pattern repeated round and round the seat rails always passing over the top of the rail, the crucial element is tension - getting it right. It needs to be tight enough not to sag, but with enough "play" to allow stuffing of the pockets that will be created inside the weave. As with canework, we would recommend borrowing a book or buying an illustrated leaflet first, study the instructions and begin with a small, square, flat seat such as a footstool.

If you have an old rush seated chair in need of a new seat, or you just fancy having a go at an old craft we can help you. We can re-seat a chair for you, see more details here, or supply you with the materials and instructions to try for yourself through Seat Weaving Supplies. E-mail or telephone/fax on (01202) 895859 for more information.

Have a look at our DVD if you would like to know more about learning rush work, please see our education page.