You may remember Carol and Larry who came to the workshop to make a couple of perches last year. Carol had worked for some time with Dickie Blackman, well regarded as the best English cottage furniture maker in Australia at one time. As I made mention of at the time, Dickie's chairs were more often than not seated with natural woven rush, also commonly known as Kabungi ( or Cumbungi depending on who you ask! ).
When woven well, rush seating makes for a strong, comfortable and good looking seat on a chair, but as with so many traditional trades, crafts and skills these days, few people remain who are able to effectively work with this raw product. Fortunately Carol is one of those few, as she was taught by Dickie whilst working with him.
Last year Carol, Larry and I agreed that come summer we would find a suitable dam full of the stuff and cut a pile of it for weaving rush seats. So about a month ago, Carol let me know that she had found a suitable dam full of rush just out of Ravenswood, near Bendigo. A day was arranged and the 3 of us headed out with sickles in hand and cut enough to fill the tray of my ute and Carol and Larry's trailer.
Not just a case of wading in and cutting what ever is in front of you, Carol was very specific about the width and thickness of the rush and selected rush that was both suitable for large and small chairs. Bull rush ( with the flower head in tact ) was rejected as unsuitable due to it's size and thickness.
Laid out properly and turned everyday the rush dried enough over 3 days to be bundled up and stood inside ready for use.
The best part about the whole process? Carol will be one of over 25 tradespeople, artisans and crafters who will showcasing their skills at the Lost Trades Fair here in Kyneton on the 15th and 16th of March. So if you would like to watch how a traditional rush seat is woven, come along on that weekend and see Carol practising this skill along side a …...Cooper, Blacksmith, Shoemaker, Gunsmith, Locksmith, Stone Mason, Dry Stone Waller, Whip maker, Weavers and Spinners, Saddler, Tool Maker, Knife Maker, Chair maker ( yes that's me ), Potter, French Polisher, Fletcher, Hedge Layer, Letterpress typographer, Coach Builder, Harp Maker and Guitar and Ukelele Maker, plus a few more to boot.
It promises to be a great weekend and we believe the start of something very special for the region and for the future of these trades.