Wicker furnishings are made from the whole or split rods (osiers) of immature willow trees (genus Salix) grown in Northern Hemisphere wetlands. The basketry techniques used are described by Crampton (1972), Heseltine (1982) and Hodges (1976). The material is adaptable and can be made into a range of goods, from small containers to whole pieces of furniture including tables, chests, chairs and even settees, suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. Immature stems of willow contain the pith and only one or two layers of secondary xylem. The properties of the material and of the woven structure together mean that wicker furniture is light and flexes in use. The 'give' in wicker chairs provides great comfort to the sitter. This furniture has been produced since Classical times as documented by a Roman relief of AD 200 in the Treves Museum which illustrates a basket chair (Crampton, 1972). The osiers are cut during the winter at the end of a season's growth when they are about 2 m high. The bark is sometimes left on but is more often removed. The natural colour of the wicker under the bark is white but if the osiers are boiled before bark removal, the familiar buff coloured wicker results. The osiers are soaked before weaving. For further information on durability see Chapter 8.
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