The re-seating of old rush-rbottomed chairs is particularly interesting and also very well paid, from $2.15 to $2.50 per seat. It requires considerable patience, both in preparing the rushes and in the actual weaving, and long practice to get the smoothness attained by the Colonial rush workers, but it is not as tiring as less sedentary industries, for nearly all the work can be done with the worker comfortably seated. It has also the advantage of being a craft which can be carried on in either the city or country; as there is a demand for it everywhere. The most practical method of getting orders is through an arrangement with some dealer in antique furniture.
The rushes may be procured through such a dealer, but as they consist of ordinary cattail leaves, it is easy to procure them in any inland marsh. (Cat-tails growing near the ocean are brittle.) The rushes should be gathered in early autumn as soon as the tips begin to turn yellow, and should be spread out straight to dry, on boards laid on the floor so there is a circulation of air under them. If it is desirable to keep them green the room should be darkened.
Before using, the rushes should be soaked in a long vessel like a trough or a bathtub, and if this leaves them too moist, they may be run through a wringer. Long fine strands should be selected, two or three being twisted together to make a coil. The twisted rush starts as shown in the sketch from the upper right corner, with the end inside. The long end is carried down back of the frame, up, and around the right hand side of the frame close to the corner, and then crosses the frame to the upper left corner, where the same process is repeated. (In following these directions it will be of assistance to look at an actual rush seated chair for reference.) The same process goes on, new strands being twisted in when necessary to keep the coil even, the ends left under the seat. If the chair seat is wider than it is long, and wider in front than behind, some of the strands going from front to back may be split, and an extra strand of rush added to each portion to fill up the front space. A few coils may be carried from front to back without going across. Ends of rush should be stuffed into the corners to give a slight cushiony effect.
When the chair is completed, the seat should be gone over with colorless shellac.
It is a good idea to try a square frame eight or nine inches across before undertaking a chair, and raffia or very fine corn husks may be substituted for the rush.