Heritage, Volume 04, Number 02, Fall 1986

Whether to restore a piece of wicker
oneself or to secure a wicker professional
is an individual decision. General repair
methods can be found in a well written
and illustrated book, How to Buy and
Restore Wicker Furniture, by Thomas
Duncan. There are going to be times
when the repair of damage should be left
to a professional. An individual's creativity
and personality, as well as the soundness
and quality of the piece, should command
the degree of craftsmanship that is
needed for any restoration project. Examine
and analyze the piece well, applying
careful observation to each area for exact
duplication of the existing pattern. Since
there are many different styles and techniques,
no publication could fully cover
all methods. Craft suppliers or local arts
and crafts stores usually carry some types
of reed, cane, and fiber for repair needs.
There may be times when a piece
of wicker only needs a good cleaning.
A brush attachment, together with a vacuum
cleaner, will help loosen dirt and
dust. Follow with warm, soapy water and
a soft bristle brush. Allow the furniture to
completely dry before painting or varnishing.
Spot sanding may also need to be
done carefully with fine sandpaper. Singeing
with a propane torch is recommended
to remove hairlike fibers on the rough or
repaired area. Do singeing prior to application
of paint or varnish. Keep the torch
in constant motion, moving the flame
over the piece lightly a few times, instead
of leaving it on one area too long. Natural
wicker, unpainted, is usually the most desirable
form for the serious wicker collector.
If a piece is already natural and has
little or no repair, consider spray varnishing
to retain the original appearance.
From a collector's point of view, the
wicker piece will be of greater value than
its painted counterpart.
Stripping reed wicker furniture to remove
paint or varnish is not recommended,
although it is commonly practiced.
Overall weakening of the reed is
certain and irreparable roughened surfaces
can result from commercial tank
dipping or handstripping. Wicker made of
machine-made fiber should never, under
any circumstances, be stripped. The
paper will deteriorate and a rough surface
is inevitable when any form of stripping is
attempted.

Wicker furniture makes any outdoor setting more
attractive. Woven straw mats seen here were also
very popular for porches in the 1920's and 1930's.
The upkeep of wicker furniture is easy
and, under normal conditions, needs attention
only once a year, preferably in the
warmer months. It is important to be
aware of the material from which the
wicker is made. Wicker that is reed, cane,
willow or rattan only needs a gentle
washdown with a water hose. Water
makes the material more pliable and is
necessary when it becomes brittle or if it
creaks when used. This simple procedure
will increase elasticity and thus ensures
the wicker a longer life. Painted fiber
wicker can be rinsed off, but use the water
sparingly. Whether the wicker is painted
or natural, these simple preventive measures
will help guarantee its quality,
beauty, and usefulness.
The best painting results will be
achieved by spraying. Oil base paint,
preferably enamel or lacquer, is the only
type of paint that should be used on
wicker. Prior to painting, the use of a sealer
primer will provide more protection
against possible chipping and thick accumulations
of paint. All paint, primer, and
varnish should be sprayed on in several
thin coats as opposed to one thick coat.

A spray gun and air compressor can be
used, but the use of canned spray paints
makes painting easier and there is little
clean-up necessary. The use of spray cans
allows for greater control of the paint.
Painting the piece upside down first, then
right side up is important to adequate
coverage. Always keep a can of paint
around for any future touch-ups.
Lisa Perry manages an antique shop in
Austin, Texas.

REFERENCES
1) Collectors Guide to American Wicker Furniture,
by Richard Saunders, Hearst Books, New York,
1983.
2) How to Buy and Restore Wicker Furniture, by
Thomas Duncan, Duncan-Holmes Publishing
Company, Syracuse, Indiana, 1983.
Heywood Brothers and Wakefield Co., Classic Wicker
Furniture, The Complete 1898-1899 Illustrated
Catalog, Dover Publications, Inc., 1982.
All About Wicker, by Patricia Corbin, E.P. Dutton,
New York, 1978.
WICKER SUPPLY SOURCES:
Frank's Cane and Rush Supply
7244 Heil Avenue
Huntington Beach, CA 92647
Cane and Basket Supply Company
1283 South Cochran Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90019
New Hampshire Cane and Reed
65 Turnpike Street, Box 176
Suncook, NH 03275

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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 04, Number 02, Fall 1986. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45442/. Accessed August 20, 2014.