How did I get started in chair caning?
Sat Mar 8, 2014 4:01pm

I caned my first chair in 1974. A caned back to an upholstered chair, purchased by my father at a small shop in the furniture district in Chicago (where I lived at the time) because I had wanted to learn to weave as a teen-ager and my dad said "caning - weaving - it's all the same." I knew someone who gave me an instruction book on caning from a course he'd taken. I ordered my cane from HH Perkins, along with caning pegs. And I followed the instructions in the manual and did a pretty creditable job of caning. I still have the chair!

In 1976, when pregnant, a friend opened a furniture resale and refinishing shop. On the basis of the chair mentioned above, I became his official go-to person for chair caning, and I caned my first chair for a customer when 8 1/2 months pregnant. My son will be 38 years old the end of this month, so that's how long I've been caning. I did a pretty good job on my first "for profit" chair, so Don brought me other chair seats as well. I redid my first rush chair 3 times before I was not too embarrassed to return it to him for his customer's use. That was a challenge.

I've been very lucky. Jobs brought to me became increasingly difficult through the late 1970's, but never beyond my ability to learn. I've never had a teacher, except for one course I took at HH Perkins many years ago with Jim Muldoon on natural rush seats. Turned out that I knew how to weave the seats (from fibre rush weaving), but I didn't know how to finish them to keep them from unraveling as the rush dried.

To date, I've done pretty much every type of weaving there is, as well as a good bit of wicker repair in the late 1970's and 1980's. And, of course, I've been teaching caning and other reseating techniques in Baltimore, MD since the early 1980's.

As many of you know, I'm busy teaching the next generation seat re-weaving techniques. Three of my great-nieces, currently ages 12-16-18, are becoming quite accomplished at chair caning and Shaker tape reweaving. They now advertise on the National Furniture Directory and have been quite successful at getting jobs as a result. It's cut into their "spare" time quite a bit, but I don't think they're complaining very much. At least not yet.

Meanwhile, my business has morphed into that of an antique dealer, though I still reseat chairs for customers upon request. I think I've gone 3 consecutive weeks without a customer's chair in my house -- maybe 2 years ago, over Christmas. Most of the time I have a pretty healthy back-log of work of various types of seat weaving. It still keeps me active and thinking, even after 38 years.

Mical Wilmoth Carton

  • How did ya'll get into this wonderful craft/business of chair caning, anyway? Please post your story. Most of you already know my entry into the field, but I'll post it again here anyway for those of ... more
    • Re: How did you get started...? Mr. Stafford, Thu Aug 10 9:44pm
      Hello all, My name is Mr. Stafford and I fell into my first chair caning project about four years ago. I had been a woodworker and professional musician for about 25 years and I had just started to... more
      • how did you get started? ediezalas, Fri Aug 11 9:13am
        First off I am one of those people that when I see some handiwork or artwork the first thing I think isn't 'how much is it' it's 'how did they do that and can I do it too?' That being said, I had a... more
      • How did you all get started? jbmeltzer, Fri Aug 11 8:43am
        I was teaching macrame (remember that?) at a local art center, and someone else was teaching caning. We traded skills, and I was off and running! Beyond that, I am self-taught, mostly by using Jim... more
      • How I got started Anderson's Restorations-Rob, Fri Aug 11 7:08am
        I used to have a refinishing business and a real nice older gentleman did my caning for me. One day his wife called that he passed and did I want his material. I had just taken in 4 chairs so I said... more
    • Picture with me, a cold, snowy January Saturday in 1975 ( 3 months after discharge from the US Army). Barbara and I have just completed the 2 hour drive to the home of her grandparents. For our chair ... more
    • how i got started f.david, Tue Mar 25 9:56am
      Well I have been caning for around 7 years and I do enjoy it. I am not to proud of where I learned, I got into some trouble with the law about 10 years ago and did some time in the NH state prison... more
      • Re: how i got started The Wicker Woman, Tue Mar 25 10:22am
        Hi Dave, Welcome to the Chair Caning Forum! It doesn't matter what the circumstances were regarding your learning of the craft, but rather that you learned it and have been making something good come ... more
        • thx f.david, Tue Mar 25 10:49am
          Thx for the kind words and advice. Dave
    • A Newby From Philly :) hannahbardinfurniture, Mon Mar 24 11:32am
      Hello, Chair Caning Forum! I'm new, and just got on the site to ask my first question when I saw this thread and thought it would be the best place to insert an introduction. I have actually been... more
      • Re: A Newby From Philly :) The Wicker Woman, Mon Mar 24 7:57pm
        Hi there Hannah, So glad you finally introduced yourself here! Hannah and I had a nice long talk on the phone a few months ago and I was so hoping she'd find us here and become a part of this... more
        • Newby from Philly Janet Noall, Tue Mar 25 9:10am
          Hannah, You are just plain AWESOME ! Jan N
      • Re: A Newby From Philly :) ABQLaurie, Mon Mar 24 12:52pm
        Welcome, Hannah! It's great to see another newbie in this seat weaving world, and you're sure to feel the camaraderie of the community very soon. Check out the Seat Weavers Guild, too. The annual... more
    • How I got started bworrad13, Fri Mar 21 10:53am
      Hello all! I'm Bruce Worrad in West Central New Hampshire. I'm 64 yrs old and have been doing seatwork since I was 25 years old. This is my first post, but have been following this forum since almost ... more
      • How I got Started Mary M Christenbury, Sat Mar 22 10:22am
        Hi Bruce, Please email me directly with your contact info. I may have some seat weaving work for you. Long story. Regards, Mary Christenbury Huntersville, NC
      • How I got started Janet Noall, Sat Mar 22 9:15am
        Welcome, Bruce, So glad you finally joined the Forum ! It is so fun to hear everyone's story. I wish everyone would be more "vocal" . We need more input ! I get TIRED of seeing my name here !!! So,... more
    • How did you get started in Chair Caning Janet Noall, Sun Mar 9 1:14pm
      It was 1974, and my dad had just retired and was BORED ! He found a free class, that taught chair caning, and he said to my mom," I have to find some chairs that need caned ". She said " no you don't ... more
    • just fell into it johnk15, Sat Mar 8 9:38pm
      I attended a fund-raiser show for a local historical society and they had a man there demonstrating how to weave chairs. Looked interesting. I was working away from home, living in a hotel, in... more
    • How did I get started in chair caning? chrperson, Sat Mar 8 4:01pm
    • How did you get started in the chair caning business Mary M Christenbury, Sat Mar 8 11:30am
      It was my sister-in-law's fault. She signed up for a class at John C. Campbell Folk School and invited me to go along with her. I'd been retired about two years and was in need of finding something... more
Click here to receive daily updates

Chair Caning Forum--The Caner's Community Hub™ 2004-2015