Wicker Furniture 2019 – How to tell the age of wicker furniture. An item of old wicker furniture, in its original form, is like a basketwork. They are works which date back hundreds of years. However, many people now generally use wicker today for furniture which consists of woven materials.
In fact, people sell these woven material-made pieces of furniture to unsuspecting buyers as antique wicker furniture.
So, how do you identify antique wicker furniture? In this article, we will let you know how to tell the age of wicker furniture and how to identify antique furniture in general. Also, you’ll discover how to make an item of wicker furniture at home.
How to identify antique wicker furniture
Trick 1: The maker and the date of existence
Wicker dates back to the 1870s to the 1940s. It is usually made of reed, rattan or paper fibers. These materials have to be completely woven over steam-bent hardwood frames.
Some very popular names in the making of wicker furniture are the Whitney & Reed Company, the Wakefield Rattan Company, Heywood Brothers, Dryad, Lloyd Loom, and a few others. Knowing when the companies existed or produced them can help you date a piece of wicker furniture. This is possible thanks to the markings on the furniture.
Trick 2: Check the type of frames
For furniture which do not have the markings of the maker, you can easily identify its true age by checking the frames which support the wicker. In this case, hardwoods, softwoods, and willows usually indicate the true story of the origin of the wicker furniture.
Read more: How to fix laminate flooring that is lifting
Trick 3: The finish and weave quality
In addition, another way you can use to identify antique wicker is in the finish and also the quality of the weave. These are specific indicators for specific manufacturers. For example, you can easily identify Lloyd Loom as their wickers have several metal wires running through them. Hence, with a magnet, you can always identify them.
Trick 4: Examine the construction
When in the market trying to shop for antique wicker, carefully examine the piece of furniture. If it is woven by hand, it will probably have some variations in the construction.
When did wicker furniture come out?
The first recording of the existence of wicker furniture was around 3,000 B.C. However, wicker furniture has a history spanning several centuries. It became very popular during the Victorian Era (1860 to 1880) in the West. Regarded as the Father of the wicker Industry, Cyrus Wakefield founded the first wicker company, Wakefield Rattan Company in 1951.
What is real wicker?
The wicker is a vegetable fiber obtained from a shrub of the family of willows. In essence, people use it as a natural raw material for the making of furniture and some decorative elements.
In its manufacturing process, they weave the stems and branches of the plant. They follow a series of patterns and adapt also to the structure or shape of the object.
Meanwhile, this light but robust material dates back to ancient times. They are useful for the creation of pieces of furniture, decorations and work in the field, due to their strength and durability.
There are references and evidence of the use of wicker in Ancient Egypt and during the Iron Age, in settlements in Western Europe (especially civilizations such as the Celtic or the Viking).
Currently, we see how this craft production technique continues to set trends, without losing its essence.
We can summarize the attractive qualities of this material and the objects made with it in two ways. First of all, we adore its elegant, beautiful and natural look. Secondly, because of its sustainability and respect for the environment.
As it is a raw material of autochthonous plant origin, it is easily re-constructible.
For a piece to get the name “original antique wicker”, its production process which is totally handmade must involve the use of no chemical. And if we stick to tradition, not even machines. Everything has to be 100% ecological!
In certain towns on the Mediterranean coast, craftsmen and woodworkers still weave baskets, table mats, carpet, and furniture entirely by hand. These crafts are often sold in small local shops and sometimes at the door of the houses.
However, wicker offers many possibilities. They are used for the manufacture of furniture or decorative objects for the interiors and exteriors of homes. Being a material so resistant and light, the pieces that come with it are very durable, firm and light. You can place them both in a patio and in a living room.
Another advantage of using wicker in the making of furniture is that it is a washable and breathable material. This makes it perfect for outdoor use.
The real wicker, like the rest of the natural fibers used for the creation of pieces for the home, gives a relaxed, fresh and comfortable touch.
It’s versatility and natural elegance make it perfect for rural or rustic style environments. It’s also great for traditional or Mediterranean, and even, for stays in Caribbean airs and chill-outs.
How to make a wicker furniture
In this section, we will look at how to make a wicker chair. Never mind, you do not need to be a professional carpenter, woodworker or craftsman before you can make one.
The wicker chairs are a popular piece of furniture whose assembly technique is useful in the assembly of antique chairs, tables, and other furniture.
In the assembly process, the makers often use pre-woven wicker sheets if they do not weave the wicker themselves.
The result is a piece of furniture with weaker woven areas, commonly in the seat or back part. The easiest way to put wicker to a chair is using the pre-woven wicker sheets. This method is more efficient and saves you the work of doing it yourself.
What you’ll need
- Wicker sheets
- Wooden loom
- PVA glue
- Wicker canes
- Remove the old wicker from the seat by removing the seat part from the frame of the chair. Use a router or a drill to remove the old wicker. Take care not to hurt the frame of the chair.
- Soak the wicker sheets in warm water for at least 20 minutes. Take the wicker out of the water and put the fabric with the shiny part out on the top of the chair. Join the horizontal and vertical lines of the fabric with the frame of the chair so that the fabric is not uneven.
- Pull the wicker fabric around the seat using a wooden loom. Continue pulling the fabric until it is firm on all sides in the desired place.
- Remove excesses using a claw. Be careful with the process so as not to cut the part you ought not to. Cut the margins so that there are no more than a few millimeters from the edge.
- Apply some PVA glue on the seat to seal the wicker fabric. Take a 5-minute break to allow the glue to dry before continuing to work.
- Press the wicker fabric on the chair and use a hammer to hold it firmly to the chair.
- Work around the perimeter of the seat. Apply a little water to the wicker to make it more flexible at the corners and to prevent it from breaking.
- Cut the wicker with the carving once you have covered the perimeter completely. Secure the ends to the chair with a hammer.
- Remove the excess glue with a damp cloth and let the chair dry. The wicker fabric will still be wet. When it is dry, it will secure the seat to the frame of the chair.
We can see an alternative way of making a wicker chair in the video below:
How can you tell if furniture is antique?
While there are new pieces of furniture with old-time looks, there are others that are real antiques. As not everyone knows how to recognize antique furniture, we have prepared some tips. You can put them into practice whenever you find furniture that has an old look and you think that it really can be an antique.
One of the main requirements that old furniture must meet is that they are at least 100 years old. Otherwise, we cannot consider them as antiquity. But that is not the only thing that typifies antique furniture. These are also known to have been the results of completely artisan techniques. However, nowadays, people don’t use artisan techniques any longer due to all the technical advances that exist.
Here are some simple rules to follow to avoid being a victim of scams and become aware and happy buyers
Deduce the provenance (place and time of origin)
If the piece proposed to us belongs to a certain period, we must make sure that it is original.
A first step is to know the origin. If it is French, for example, just look for the stamp. The makers usually hide the stamp in parts not easily visible or the signature with fat ink on softwood.
If instead there are in-laying decorations in four-leaf clover, then they could almost certainly come from Genoa.
If veneered with an ocher-tending essence with plumed veins, one might assume the English provenance. This could be from the late eighteenth century, early nineteenth century (Sheraton style).
The eighteenth-century Lombard furniture, instead, is marked by thin dark frames that framed the doors and drawers.
Know the material
Historically made of oak or walnut, later, mahogany took over antique furniture structures.
As a result of the ban on the importation of exotic woods, during the Napoleonic period, local woods, of light color and wood from fruit (lemon, pear tree, etc.) were often used.
In France, as in Italy, the “provincial” furniture differed as well as for the style (often backward and however simplified). This is also the same for the use of cheaper (autochthonous) woods, especially in the structures.
They prefer some essences for the “threads” in contrasting color. Violet, rosewood, ebony wood, etc. were darker and then used to finish, frame or decorate the lighter base essences.
Also, check if the essence is original or colored.
It would be useful to determine if the essence is original or the wood is poorer than what they wanted to make it appear.
For example, in the early 19th century, some artisans even boasted to color poor woods. They make them boil with tartar salt and then paint them with a couple of sends. Then they retouch them with a flat brush to imitate the veins obtained from the rosewood.
Obviously, the knowledge of wood and its characteristics are certainly helpful. For example, if a piece of furniture was shallowly dyed, it would be enough to look for some scratches. Optionally and better still, you can inspect the hidden parts to check the color of the background.
If cooked instead, as mentioned, then all the solid wood would acquire the color imitated. However, keep in mind, that in these cases poor woods such as camping wood were most likely used.
So from the analysis of the compactness of the wood and its fiber, one can make true diagnoses.
Check the thickness of the wood
If the cabinet obviously has veneer, check the thickness of the noble layer. On the other hand, we only call it to veneer if the thickness is greater than 2-5 mm. In this case, we are sure that it dates back to a period before the middle of the nineteenth century. Therefore, it has greater value.
If the veneer is in briar, make sure that the marbling is not false. If there are colorful, regular spots that have shades, it is usually briar feather and therefore the value is greater.
Usually, the veneer does not exist in the internal parts or it changes. The thickness is already visible at the connection points. Otherwise, a small section made with a small knife or the identification of a crack can help us to understand the thickness.
Let’s not forget that wood – unless seasoned for long periods – shrinks, and so it is easy to find cracks (between pilasters and frames). Hence, in addition to being a sign of originality, they help us to see if veneer exists and consequently check its thickness.
Check the inlays
Today, there are machines that create decors (inlay type) on support films with thicknesses of 3-10 mm. Manufacturers usually apply them as adhesive tapes and then uniformly cleaned to the rest. At first glance, these make the piece of furniture precious.
However, because of the skill and mastery of cabinetmakers such as Maggiolini (1738-1814), the work makes each design, decoration or detail, different from others and therefore unrepeatable.
Identify the imperfections
The moldings, the inlays, the curves of the structural blocks and the carvings, are all works that, with careful observation, reveal their origins. Before 1840, however, all crafts were hand-made. This is deducible from a careful look at the wonderful and imperceptible imperfections.
However, even at the end of the eighteenth century, the stucco techniques were already in existence. When you mix with natural products and then paint, they give preciousness to the piece of furniture.
After the mid-nineteenth century with the invention of paper mâché and of the presses for processing, numerous fakes became widely developed.
Evaluate the processing
Check the interior, the hidden parts, and the structure. If possible, evaluate the cut of the solid wood. Check whether it is a cut of an ax or a manual saw or with a circular saw. The ax shots or the irregular traces of the cutting tools are not difficult to notice, as are the uniform and smooth cuts by mechanical saws.
The woods inside, in the backdrops, in the drawers, or in hidden reinforcements, can be of recovery (more of the essence) or of poorer origins than the main structure. Check the joints of the structural parts if they are interlocking or nailed.
Once you identify the procedure applied for the assembly, it is necessary to understand if there was the use of putty in its making. Being able to determine its place of origin would be just as important to know its period of origin. The makers may have used glues of plants, animals, or synthetic glues, but here it would be better to rely on experts.
Recognize the type of lacquer used
A final mention is on the lacquering. There is a myriad of types of lacquer. They range from Coromandel (Chinese original thick with brown, gold and dark green tones), to Sandracca which was mostly used by the Venetians on paper and designed by Vernis Martin.
By now, we hope you are now able to differentiate between antique wicker furniture and just the new wicker.
We have revealed exactly the period which old wicker originated from and how you can check for signs indicating they are from this period.
The tutorial also touched up some basics on how to make simple wicker furniture. We hope you find these pragmatic enough. If you ever have a challenge carrying out these tutorials in practice or you are trying to make a suggestion, do let us know in the comment section.
Kindly help us share this article among your network of friends so they can appreciate wood antiquity and explore their use.
- 1 How to identify antique wicker furniture
- 2 When did wicker furniture come out?
- 3 What is real wicker?
- 4 How to make a wicker furniture
- 5 How can you tell if furniture is antique?
- 6 Summary