December 13, 2021 2 min read
Wicker has been rising in demand, some questions consumers have to do with whether it might be better to invest in old wicker pieces rather than new furnishings. This variance in production quality is happening just as much in wicker made many decades ago compared with today, and understanding these differences is sometimes best left to experts. While collectors can be skilled in differentiating between premium old wicker and poor construction, casual consumers should also buy with caution.
With many reproduction pieces available today from highly known manufacturers, some owners might want to have comfort knowing their purchases will last well into the future. Others can take pride in finding and restoring long-lost pieces.
Wicker soared in popularity in the Victorian era. Chairs, sofas, tables and more ranged from simple to highly detailed. Pieces made during these years were typically made from rattan reed and cane or twisted paper. Willow and bamboo were also present but were not as abundant. Older furniture usually featured weaves over hardwood frames that were steamed and bent to add in curves and supports. Softer woods were used and were an indicator of the manufacturer or specific production period.
Vintage wicker usually comes with a high price tag, and many of these pieces remain in good enough condition to last well into the future. For casual consumers, it could be wise to hire a trusted expert to help you make the selections. Reputable dealers can also confirm the authenticity and quality, and many will also offer evaluation and restoration services.
DIYers are also able to restore older wicker, but it can be an arduous process that needs the skills of an expert. Grit and grime that has settled into the peeling weaves and frame makes the clean up quite tedious. Too much water during this process can release glues, and scraping off paint can destroy fibers. Once cleaned, priming, painting and varnishing must be repeated every few years.
High-quality variations of new wicker will exist as well, and new buyers will need to think about the construction process and the materials. Prices can reflect the quality, but not all the time. Rattan cane framing should be reinforced using dowels and wood screws and followed up by glue. Bindings need to be leather or rattan peel for added tightness. Some indoor pieces will feature a wood framework along with sturdy woven decking for the seats.
The highest quality rattan can and woven fibers will go through sanding and priming before the multi-step finish is applied. In some cases, they should also have a sealant applied before shipping followed by yearly applications. In many cases, reproduction pieces are quality crafted to last through several decades, even during heavy use. Many other qualities should be involved when picking older over newer wicker, but these basics can be helpful in decision-making, which also includes taste and budget. By knowing these historical references and knowing about the production process, it can be easier to choose.