Rattan is a climbing vine used for everything from wicker the generic term for material woven from rattan, willow, or other natural products to industrial construction, such as suspension bridges. I use rattan to integrate this enduring strength into the structure of my furniture.
Rattan grows in the jungles of Borneo, Malaysia, and Sumatra where it climbs to the tops of jungle canopies. Eventually, the host tree snaps under the additional weight and the rattan falls, creating a dense undergrowth of vines 200 to 300 feet long. The stems are then harvested, usually in lengths from ten to twenty feet. Next, the bark also known as cane or peel is stripped into a variety of thicknesses and widths. The thickest and widest strips are considered shave slab rattan. I am very partial to this coarse cut cane and use it extensively.
After removing the bark, the exposed core or pith, referred to as reed, is machined to various sizes and shapes. Round reed ranges from 1.25 mm to 18 mm in diameter. Larger cores are used to produce flat reed and flat oval splint.
Care of Rattan
All rattan products should be treated annually with lemon oil to replace the loss of their natural oils. Using a paintbrush, apply lemon oil to the rattan surfaces and allow ample time for the oil to be absorbed before the using the piece or covering it.
Rattan may be washed with a mild detergent or hosed down with water. However, each cleaning must be followed by painting with lemon oil, as described above