Wicker and Rattan Outdoor Furniture
Wicker and Rattan Outdoor Furniture has certainly proven its durability as well as its elegance and beautiful designs.
According to Wikipedia wicker is the oldest furniture making method originating in ancient Egypt, dating back over 5000 years. Traditionally wickerwork is made from weaving or braiding plants material such as bamboo, rattan, reed or willow.
In the past wicker was used to create chests, baskets, chairs and more. Well known for its durability and strength, it is light and pliable enabling the creation of beautiful pieces. When applied to a frame the possibility and versatility of wicker is extensive. The weaving, or braiding, technique used is an artform in their own right. Well maintained antique pieces are highly sought after by collectors, but restoration of pieces can be very costly due to the skill needed to perfectly restore the natural wicker work.
Where natural wicker requires regular maintenance and upkeep the more modern synthetic types are well wearing and can withstand the harsh outdoor conditions of Southern Africa.
Rattan, Reed, Bamboo and Willow
Rattan, reed, bamboo and willow are natural materials commonly used to create wicker furniture.
Rattan Palms are grown in tropical forests of Southeast Asia, there are over 600 species and most of them are now threatened due to exploitation and deforestation.
Not all rattan furniture is woven. When rattan is cut into sections it can also be used as wood to make furniture. It comes in many colours and shades and accepts paints and stains like other wood product. The rattan stem can be separated so the softer inner core can be used for wicker.
Reed is a common name for tall grass-like plants found in wetlands the world over. Popular for creating baskets and used for thatching buildings. Historically in Africa and South America reed was the main material used to create boats or rafts.
Bamboo is a tropical plant and a member of the grass family mostly found in Asia. It is amongst some of the fastest growing plants in the world and is very versatile. Bamboo stalks of varying sizes can be woven or braided in patterns to create furniture, amongst other objects.
Willow is found in the northern hemisphere, preferring moist soil and colder environments. No stranger to the manufacturing process willow can be used for its wood and for its shoots, the latter is often used for basket-making and wicker work. While the wood can be used for boxes, cricket bats, toys, furniture, fibre, paper and rope.
Whilst wicker furniture made from natural material is beautiful, they are quick to fade and become brittle without regular maintenance. It also puts pressure on the soil and rainforests where these natural fibres are grown.
Synthetic rattan, also known as PE rattan or poly rattan, is made from non-toxic high-density polyethylene (HDPE). It is durable and offers the same look as plant-based wicker furniture. It has a built in UV protection layer, meaning that it will not fade or crack in the harsh summer sun. Synthetic rattan requires minimal maintenance and can be cleaned with a soft sponge and soapy water. It is resistant to the elements making it last for decades without any degradation. Synthetic rattan is often used with an aluminium frame making it the perfect combination of two of the best materials for outdoor furniture.