The cane that is used for chair seating is called rattan and comes from a form of climbing palm that is native to South East Asia. The material was introduced to Europe in the seventeenth century by trade and became popular for dining and bedroom weight furniture and for use in the damp atmospheres of conservatories and gardens. The material was perceived to be dust and pest free. Cane is the pared outer surface (inner bark) from the stem of several species of the genera Calamus and Doemonorops. It contains the epidermis and some of the cortex. The long, dense longitudinal fibres of this monocot stem are closely packed towards the epidermis giving a dense exterior with strength in the length and suppleness. Cane splits easily across its width. It is supplied in various sizes (1-6), which relate to the size of the holes through which the material is threaded in the frame. Suppliers' catalogues may grade the material in a variety of ways. For example, some British suppliers grade the product as 'red tie' (top quality), 'blue tie' (second quality) or 'white tie' (bleached), the 'tie' being literally the colour of the thread or tape used to tie up the hank. Different widths of cane have common names, for example common, medium, fine. However, suppliers are inconsistent about the widths to which these names are applied so some queries to the supplier are usually required or the catalogue should be used as an information source for an individual supplier. The terms used are not internationally transferable so local enquiries should be made. Cane may be washed, bleached or oil dressed during processing. It is resistant to colouring because of the silicaceous nature of its surface. The surface may need to be rubbed down with abrasive paper to provide a key for varnishing, painting or gilding to be successful. Spray painting with compressed air is advised. The materials may be dyed using reactive dyes in a bath or by sponge application (Florian et al., 1990).
Identification of cane, rush and wicker Cane, rush and wicker can be examined macro-scopically, or in cross-sections as for wood identification (Florian et al, 1990; Hoadley, 1990) and macerations can be made for examination of individual cell elements.
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