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The Country Seat, Inc. 1013 Old Philly Pike, Kempton PA 19529
610-756-6124 -

All you wanted to know about Basket Reed, Seagrass and more.

Basket Reed
Basket Reed and Other Weaving Materials Glossary
Prewoven Cane Processing
PA Antler Laws
Use of Wildlife in Arts & Crafts - Laws
Dyed Paper Twist
Woven VW Beetle, Casket, Motocycle & Bamboo Bicycle

Basket Reed -

  • There are between 550 and 600 species of rattan, which can be found in rainforest areas from South China to Australia and Fiji to West Africa and Madagascar. Basket reed is produced from the core of this thorny palm (mostly genera Calamus, Daemonorops or Plectomia) which grows like a vine into the forest canopy. Rattan for commercial use is harvested mostly in the jungles of South East Asia and Indonesia. Native peoples travel into the rainforests, sometimes whole families for months at a time, to pull as many of the wild vines down from the forest canopy as they can. Much of the vine is left behind, tangled in the tree tops, the roots are left to grow again. The vines can be smaller in diameter near the roots and larger in diameter near the ends. Once rattan has developed, they do not increase in diameter as they age, they only increase in length. Some species of vines can grow to a few hundred feet.
  • The rattan is cut into long pieces, approximately 20 feet or more, tied into manageable bundles and carried or dragged out of the forest.
  • The rattan poles are now debarked and boiled in a mixture of kerosene and diesel fuel to prevent blue staining and kill any bugs or borers. The residue from the boiling must now be cleaned off and the poles are left standing or laying in the sun to dry.
  • Bundles are made with mixed sizes, shipped to factories where they are graded by the type and size and of the rattan. The poles are now washed in water and very labor intensively cleaned using sand and a cloth. The joints, where the rings of thorns were removed, are scraped and the poles are closely sized. They are now ready to make chair cane and round core reeds.
  • These same steps are used to process thick rattan cores and species that are used for the flat and flat oval reeds. Less care is taken with the outside bark since it is not usable and the thorough washing step is eliminated.
  • The thick sizes of certain species of rattan suitable for flats and flat ovals are put through a machine that takes off the outer bark. Depending on the size of the core, the factories may polish the core in a sanding machine. Then flat ovals are cut from the outside, this is why sometimes the oval part is smooth and shiny. The rest of the core is sized and cut into flat reeds from 3/8" to 1" wide . Simple machines such as the one shown are used to cut the larger sizes of flat reed. Smaller machines are used for the sizes under 3/8".
  • The flat strands are inspected for defects, graded by color (select quality and premium reeds are naturally whitish/eggshell in color. Second color reeds may have naturally occurring streaks of grey, black, rust or even purplish color running through the lengths.) and the tips are clipped to get rid of dark ends.
  • The reed is weighed into one pound hanks, tied, coiled and hairs are clipped off the edges. All containers of reed go through a mandatory fumigation with methyl bromide (this is the same insecticide that is used on all produce that enters this country) before shipment to the US. Methyl bromide is considered food safe and is regulated by the EPA.

    Approximately 100 pounds of raw rattan may only yield 20 pounds of 1st quality flat reeds.

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Please click here to view the pdf Glossary of Basket Reed and other Weaving Materials.
Please note: This is not a complete list of weaving materials and it will be updated and more information added as time allows.

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Processing Prewoven Cane
Prewoven Cane (or Press Cane, Cane Webbing, Loom Cane, Mat Cane, Sheet Cane) is woven on a loom in factories overseas. The strands of cane that run the entire length of the roll must be glued together so that they mesure more than 50 feet in length (a full roll of prewoven cane is 50ft.). These long strands are rolled onto bobbins and form the warp. Shorter cane strands are woven for the weft. No loom can weave a diagonal strand so the diagonals are woven into place one at a time after the horizontal and vertical grid is removed from the loom.

Due to the fact that the pieces of cane must be glued together in places, there may sometimes be weak or broken spots. To repair these weak spots: Cut pieces of cane from the edge of the mat. Soak both the mat and the short pieces of cane. Using a tweezers and/or flat tipped awl, lift the pieces of cane on the mat and slide the repair piece into place, overlapping as much as possible to add strength.
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PA Antler Laws
This article was written by Linda Clifton and appeared in the March 1998 issue of the Central PA Basket Weavers Guild newsletter. It is reprinted with permission. Your state laws may be different.

Are Antler Baskets Illegal?

A recent conversation at a guild meeting brought up the issue of selling and ownership of deer antlers in Pennsylvania. In order to clarify what is and is not allowed in PA with antlers, I talked with a representative of the PA Game Commission and this is what I learned in that conversation.
According to Title 34 of the Pennsylvania Code antlers (any inedible part) of a lawfully taken game animal may be sold by the hunter who took the game within 90 days of the close of the season in which the wildlife was taken.
What effect does this have on the making and selling of antler baskets?
  • You may buy an antler from a hunter in accordance with the above law.
  • You cannot sell an antler in any form (basket or otherwise) unless you are the hunter as specified above.
  • You may make an antler basket and keep it for yourself or GIVE it to someone.
  • You may use antlers lawfully taken in another state, but you may NOT SELL them no matter where they come from.
If you would like to read the Pennsylvania Code which addresses this issue and the penalties for violations, see 34PaCSA section 2312.

These laws also apply to shed and found antlers.

Visit the web site for the North American Shed Hunters Club to see a state by state list of antler laws and the addresses for the agencies in each US state and Canada. - Please continue to check this site, it is now under construction and may not have the information listed.

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Use of Wildlife in Arts and Crafts: An Overview of Federal Laws and Regulations
Please visit this site,
US Fish & Wildlife Service - Office of Law Enforcement, to learn more about what animal parts are legal to use in your baskets. Some laws will vary from state to state, so it's always best to check with the Game Service in your state or the state you wish to sell your basket or gourd in.
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Seagrass or "salt-water-grass" grows on the riverbanks in estuary areas. The grass that we use in our baskets is not a true seagrass that grows on the ocean floor, but a grass that grows on land.
The leaves of the grass can grow to be approximately 10 feet. They are at least somewhat tended by the farmers that harvest the materials.
Twisted seagrass starts with the strands which are 3 to 4 foot in length, the bottom of the grass "needle" is used for the larger sizes and the tips are used for the thinner, more delicate sizes. They are twisted and braided by hand using simple tools. Sizes vary due to each individual's skill and thickness of the grasses.
Many years ago in Asian countries, the salt-water-grass blades (which is a full needle leaf sliced in half) were used to bundle and tie up groceries (which were sometimes wrapped in old newspapers) for customers who carried all their daily groceries purchased in the open market. Meat, poultry and beef were tied with the blades, even live struggling chickens were tied with thick blades around the wings. If a housewife would buy 10 things, she would carry each item tied with a blade of grass, dangling at her side. Most of the time, items were not even wrapped. Imagine a live/dead fish dangling at the end of a seagrass blade hanging from your waist.
twisting seagrass twisting seagrass twisting seagrass

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Dyed Paper Twist
Dyeing your own paper rush (craft twist)

  • Dyeing Kraft Brown fiber rush is a very simple procedure. Cut the length of paper you need. Short lengths from 4 -6 yards work the easiest. Untwist the fiber rush for solid colors or dye it twisted to create variegated colors.
  • In an enamel pot, boil 2-4 cups of water and add your choice of dye until you obtain the desired shade. Use approximately one-fourth of a package of dye for 4 cups of water. Soak the paper for approximately 5 - 15 minutes. Some colors will take longer than others. Test the color by using small cuttings of the paper rush. Two things will determine the intensity of color - the proportion of dye to water and the length of time the rush is soaked. The paper will dry quicker if the water is kept hot while dyeing. The burner can be left on low.
  • Once the paper reaches the desired color, remove it from the water and hang to dry. Clothes hangers work very well for drying.
  • If you are dyeing the untwisted rush, it can be untwisted either while wet or dry. Also, remember that the colors will look darker when wet.
  • Besides being less expensive than store bought dyed rush, dyeing your own will allow you to have colors other than are commercially available.
  • Don't be afraid to experiment, many dyes may be mixed to produce new colors.
Fiber rush is available in 3 sizes and 2 colors, try some today.

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Casket made from willow.
willow casket

Bamboo Bicycle:
Bamboo Bicycle
Did You Know - that bicycles can be made from Bamboo? Visit the American Bamboo Society's web site to read this fascinating article by Steen Heinsen ~ Bamboo Bicycle Article. Here is an exerpt: "I am riding a bamboo bicycle ... Usually it takes quite a bit to make the roughies turn their heads - but this bamboo bicycle does the trick. It is beautiful, light and fast - and it is nice to touch...several people come over to touch the frame and to check out how the bike is made. "Where have you got that from?" they ask, here in the Paradise of Bicycles, the almost car-free town in the middle of Copenhagen... So where have I got it from? Flavio Deslandes is the man behind the development of a bicycle made of bamboo... My bicycles are made of grass, he says...Flavio makes me see things differently: Bamboo is a resource of immense potential. And it is strong too. What makes it possible to build bicycles from bamboo, is that it is stronger than steel when strained in the longitudinal direction, 17% to be exact..."
Visit the ABA web site to read the entire article and learn more of the wonders of Bamboo.

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Paper Catalog:
Click here to see and print the pdf version of our paper catalog.
New products are added to the secure online catalog as they arrive.
Please keep the Country Seat Courier newsletters as they contain new products and any changes to the print catalog. You can always read the current and past 6 months Country Seat Courier Newsletters online at our Newsletter Page
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If you have any questions please e-mail us at

The Country Seat, Inc.
Basketry, Gourd Weaving & Chair Seating Supplies
1013 Old Philly Pike
Kempton, Pennsylvania 19529-9321 USA
Phone: 610-756-6124
Fax: 610-756-0088
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