Gardener's Grapevine 2012.06.13

Written by David Green.

This week I’m going to stray a bit from the garden and talk about nature.

Have you ever given much thought to where things come from? I love old things such as furniture, clothing, jewelry, etc. 

When I was a small child I spent a lot of time with my great-grandmother. She was a wonderful woman and being a farm woman was very resourceful. I owe her a great deal of gratitude for the things she taught me like sewing, cooking and even some very minor gardening.

She had an old Lincoln rocker that sat in her living room and the back was towards town. When I would really get that chair rocking she’d say “you’re really going to town now.” When she passed, that chair came to me and I cherish it. I look at it and think of her. I keep it in our spare room as it’s extremely old.

Two years ago, Doris Allen who is a very nice lady in our church, asked my husband to fix her rocking chair as it had a broken side. He brought this chair home and it was an exact replica of my grandmother’s rocker, and boy was it broken.

Now the thing about these chairs that is so special is they are very comfortable for a tall person to sit in and they are caned back and bottom. It is a lot of caning, and very costly to pay someone to replace. The chair my husband fixed looked as though someone fell through the bottom. Well he fixed the splintered wood and left the caning part to me. Oh joy of joys! 

Cane is a natural product made from bamboo and used throughout the world. It began being used in chairs and settees in 17th century England. People would actually apprentice to become a caner a as a career.

Gradually over the years fewer and fewer pieces of furniture were caned. Now it is a lost art done by a select few. I always thought I wanted to learn to do this. But I have to admit I had no idea how hard it is. My friend Mary said she’d help me, but I didn’t want to impose. Well, after three tries all I had was a mess. Yes, bamboo is natural, and yes, it breaks, splinters and generally irritates you to the point of no return. Not to mention a book that tells you all wrong how to do this little project.

Cane is made by stripping the stalks of bamboo into whatever width is needed. The strips are very thin with the outer side slightly rounded. The only way to use this product is to keep it in warm water and very wet. This includes keeping  the area already worked wet, as it will snap if it dries out while you are working with it. Caning is a very natural way to cover a chair seat. It is also a very intricate process that, done right and treated with respect, will last for years.

Thank goodness Mary took pity on me and assisted me with caning the chair. All she asked for in payment was a few sugar snap peas. Since I can grow sugar snaps easily it seemed a fair exchange.

When the chair was done and returned to its owner, I felt as though it was not enough payment for the knowledge I’d gleaned. Natural is always better in most all ways and I plan to keep quite a few people stripping bamboo in the years to come. Nature gives us so much, not only in our own yards and communities, but all over the world.

  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
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    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
  • Shadow.salon
    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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