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PREPARING THE FIBER RUSH. Fiber rush is packaged in coils of approximately 150 feet. Cut the coil(s) of rush into smaller coils of approximately 30 feet each. To make the fiber rush pliable and easier to weave, dampen it before weaving. Have a pail of warm water on hand. A few minutes before weaving a coil, dunk it into the water and remove it quickly (10 to 20 seconds). Shake off any excess. Do not soak or it will become too wet to work.
BEGINNING THE SEAT. Most chairs are wider in the front than in the back. In order to make the opening rectangular, single strands of rush will be woven to fill in the front corners. To determine how far out to weave from the corners, measure the front and back rails. Subtract the length of the back rail from the length of the front rail. Divide the result in half, and measure this distance along the front rail, starting each front post. Mark a pencil line at these points. See Figure 1. To begin weaving, tack one end of the coil to the inside of the left side rail near the left front post. Pull the rush over and under the rails as shown in Figure 1. Tack the rush to the inside of the right seat rail, close to the right front post, and cut off the excess with scissors. While weaving this and successive rows, pull the rush sufficiently tight to make the corner square at "A". Too great a pull, however will displace the rush making it difficult to keep the corner square. A pencil temporarily inserted between the front post and rush at each front inside corner will prevent this displacement in the first row (shown near point "A" in Figure 1).
Repeat the procedure as above, tacking the rush at successive
points on the inside of the side rails, as shown in Figure 2. To help make
corner "A" square while weaving the remaining rows, squeeze the corner between
you thumb and forefinger. Check the corners every couple of rows, using a
square, and adjust as necessary.
WEAVING THE CENTER OF THE SEAT. Tack the end of a 30 ft. coil at the inside of the left seat rail next to the left rear post as shown in Figure 3 at point "Z". Pull the coil forward over and under the four seat rails in a counterclockwise direction; following the arrows of the first long strand in Figure 3. Continue weaving the same pattern over and under the seat rails to the end of the coil. Leave a sufficient length of rush to tie on the next coil with a square knot as shown. Locate the knot under the seat between the weaving so it will not be apparent from the top the chair. Use a block of wood and hammer to push rows snugly against one another. To prevent cords from slipping on the rails, drive in a temporary tack on each side as in Figure 3.
ADDING FILLERS. When your weaving has progressed to the point shown in Figure 4, tack the last rows temporarily, then remove the temporary tacks previously inserted. Now, is the time to add cardboard fillers to give shape and cushioning to the seat. The fillers can be made from any corrugated carton (the carton you chair kit was shipped in, for example). Cut the fillers to the approximate size and shape shown in figure 4. For small seats add two layers of filler on each side: for large seats add three layers of filler at each side. Tuck them under the rows of fiber rush as shown.
COMPLETING THE SEAT. Continue weaving until the side seat rails are covered with rush. Your seat will now look like Figure 5. To prevent the seat from loosening while you fill the center section. Secure the last row of rush you have woven, with a temporary tack on the side rail. Push the loose end up through the opening in the center of the seat. Weave the loose end over and under the front rail, up through the opening, over and under the back rail, and again up through the opening. This is known as a "figure eight" pattern. Continue weaving in the "figure" eight pattern until the spaces on the front and rear rails are covered with rush. For best results, the rows should be squeezed together as closely as possible where they go through the slot. Finish by tacking the end of the rush under either the back or front seat rail. Remove all temporary tacks.
FINISHING THE SEAT. Before finishing the seat, take some
time to straighten the rows of rush and make them as even as possible. To
protect the seat and to keep it clean, a finish is required. Traditionally
rush-seated chairs were finished with two or three coats of shellac, thinned in
half with wood alcohol. A mixture of solvent based polyurethane, boiled linseed oil,
and odorless paint thinner (in equal parts) will also provide a satisfactory and durable
finish. To renew the seat, the finish should be applied every two or three
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