Some pleasing and characteristic examples of cane furniture. The charming colour of cane harmonises admirably with almost every scheme of decoration and is peculiarly suitable for town dwellingsas it is easily cleaned
It is amusing to consider, in these days of revivalism, that even basket-work furniture may be considered from this historic point of view. Pliny speaks of the white variety of the willow, saying: "It is remarkably pliable, and is especially adapted for the making of those articles of luxury -reclining chairs." There is also, at the Treves Museum, a piece of carved stone showing a Roman matron seated in a very well-made wicker chair, surrounded by her maidens, who are braiding her hair.
We have improved upon such times, however, because in those days the willow was used in the place of the cane which has now largely taken its place, and of which the superior advantages of durability and cleanliness are obvious. On the Continent, even more than here, cane furniture is being used, though in this country also there is every sign that it has a future before it. It has very many points which commend it to the householder.
With moderately careful handling there is no reason that it should not last as long as the house in which it stands. There is nothing in the cane-work to wear out, and when anything does give way it is simply that the wood supports have been broken by reckless treatment.
In the highest class'of work everything is perfectly neat, and the structure of crossing pieces of ash will almost resemble that of a bridge, so strongly is it built up. A well-made frame should be perfectly strong and upright, and not twist under the weight when pressure is put upon it. This stiffness cannot be obtained if willow is employed instead of the ash. When it was first introduced, workers objected to using it, as it is much harder to fix than cane, but there is no doubt that it ensures incomparably better furniture.
The only thing for which strength is some times sacrificed to a small extent is beauty of form, and people are so appreciative of the artistic shapes in which cane chairs are now to be had that they are ready to forgo a little on the score of solidity, for the sake of design. A well thought-out chair in the natural coloured cane
The lightness and durability of good cane furniture makes it highly practical for such necessary objects as a butler's table. It is easily moved and picturesque in appearance is a pleasing object in any room. A great part of its attraction is, no doubt, also its charming colour, which goes so admirably against almost any wallpaper, though especially so in contrast with a green or dull blue. Cane furniture also looks delightful with the dark panelled walls that are so very much used, and is far better than anything made of wood or in a style that is incongruous.
Tables, also, are very attractive,for a similar reason, since a vase of flowers of any kind placed upon them always forms a good colour scheme, the greyish buff tone of the cane showing up the rich or delicate hue of the blossoms in the vase.
For London cane furniture is particularly suitable on the ground of cleanliness, as, of course, it does not collect the dust like upholstery, and can very easily be washed with warm water and a scrubbing-brush. If it can be put out in a yard or garden for the cleansing process, it is a good plan to turn a hose on to it. Of course, it has another great merit in these days of domestic difficulties, that it saves an immense amount of time, as it does not require any polishing.
The use of cane furniture is not by any means confined to chairs and tables, as a glance at the illustrations will show. On the Continent, whole suites of it are being used. The writer even knows of a cane
A suggested arrangement in cane furniture that would serve admirably for a corner of a verandah. Modern cane-work is both artistic and durable; it is now constructed with supports of stout ash instead of the more yielding willow
Dryad bedstead being made to a special order. And abroad little washhand-stands are employed. A display of it at the Belgian Exhibition attracted a good deal of attention, and did much to increase its popularity. For use in the dining-room, one of the most practical and in every way admirable notions is the butler's table. It is easily moved about, and is, moreover, quite a picturesque object. Then there are very comfortable footstools. A log basket is equally satisfactory. Even in the hall one is not debarred from the use of cane furniture, and in a country house or cottage nothing could be prettier than an umbrella-stand and hall chest in cane-work.
It is most important to choose a good make of cane furniture. The buyer should turn the chair or other piece of furniture upside down and examine the structure. Also, she should look to the finish around the top and arms of the piece of work. In properly made cane this is all woven, and has no plait or beading fixed on with tacks. Cane furniture should not be too springy, as the spring only lasts a short while, and to get it a good deal of strength has to be sacrificed. The weight is also a test of quality. The heavier furniture betokens a stronger frame and the fact that more cane has been used in the weaving.