Rush Chair Repair
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Fiber Rush ~ Natural Seagrass Rush ~ Golden Wheat Rush

Weaving seats of chairs and stools from various natural materials has been around for many centuries. Chair rushing got its name from the wetland grasses used in rushing known as cattail or bulrush. (Think baby Moses in the bulrushes) Cattail and bulrush are seldom used in rushing these days due to the protected nature of its habitat as well as the great amount of effort that goes into working with it. In days of yore to rush a seat you’d first have to locate, harvest and dry the cattail or bulrush. This is done during the summer months from July through August using stable flat bottom boats or heavy waders and a sharp hooked knife on the end of a pole to cut the rush below the water line. The harvester would then drain the cuttings on shore and haul them to a shaded area to dry the rush for approximately three weeks rotating often to prevent mildew. Further processing was necessary as the seat rushing/weaving process commenced such as rewetting/soaking the dried rush and running it through old fashioned washing machine rollers to squeeze out the excess water and air trapped inside the rush. As charming as all this sounds we who make part of our living from chair and stool rushing are grateful for the three suitable alternatives in fiber, sea grass and golden wheat rushing cordage.  When deciding which to use on your rush chair repair project several facts should be kept in mind such as cost, appearance, durability and environmental impact.

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Fiber rush with clear shellac sealer coat applied...

1) Fiber rush cordage was invented over 100 years ago to meet the need for an affordable and convenient alternative to the pain staking and time consuming process of historical chair rushing. Fiber rush is basically craft paper processed and run through a specialty cordage machine which is sold by the pound in various shades and diameters. It’s the most affordable and easy to work with as well as the most durable. 

Natural seagrass rush

2) Seagrass is important to coastal/marine ecosystem. It helps to stabilize the coastlines and sediments, and serve as shelters, feeding grounds and food sources for a variety of animals such as fishes, crabs, gastropods, horseshoe crabs and turtles. Seagrass is not an endangered species but its distribution throughout the world has been reduced by approximately 30%. This comes mostly from pollution/agricultural sentiment, lost habitat due to coastal development, commercial harvesting and other natural occurrences. It is good to know these facts when making your rush chair repair (rushing) material choices.

Golden wheat rush

3) Golden wheat rush historically was sun dried golden wheat leaves wrapped around narrow strands of cattail or bulrush. Today it is some other natural plant material (unknown) that similarly dries to a shimmering gold and then wrapped around twisted seagrass strands. The golden wrap is quite fragile and the product as a whole is more expensive and difficult to work with.

Choosing the right rush for your chairs

When choosing the proper rush for your chairs you have the option of re-weaving in the same style material that you are replacing or switching to one of the other three rush's avaiable:  Fiber rush (twisted craft paper),  Natural seagrass rush or Golden Wheat rush.  With a single stand alone chair you are a bit more free to change things up as apposed to a matching set of dining room rush seat chairs.  The most common reasons to change rush styles is economics and longevity as fiber rush is not only the most economical but last the longest too.  Many with Natural seagrass or Golden wheat rush chairs will re-weave them in fiber rush for these very reasons.  Even with a matched set of dining chairs where only part of the seats need reweaving folks will often take the long term view and start the transition with the first seat that needs reweaving with the plan to transition on a piece meal basis as each rush seat gives out over time.  With these choices in mind we provide the next two photo groups below to show the resulting difference when transitioning from natural seagrass rush and/or golden wheat rush to the more economical and durable fiber rush...

Natural seagrass rush seat re-woven with fiber rush...


Golden wheat rush seat re-woven in fiber rush...

We  always brush clear shellac on fiber rush to seal and protect it from wear and tear...


Some chairs like this Hitchcock below have protector slats around the perimeter to deal with...

Other chairs like the below have a back trap door to remove and replace for weaving access...

Local cattail  and bulrush habitat

The weaving of rush seats, known as rushing, got it's name from the original Cattail and Bulrush wetlands grass used in the process. Most of the habitat for these grasses is protected wetlands making it inpractical for use. In it's habitat many species of birds, fish and amphibians call these plants home. Fortunately we have environmentaly friendly alternatives in fiber, seagrass and golden wheat rush's shown above. I took these two photos below on a recent hike through the Back Bay in Newport Beach with my wife...


Here's a short video I took of Bulrush while walking through Huntington Beach Central Park


On the same walk a few yards away I came upon Cattail Rush


RUSH CHAIR REPAIR is a sister site to:

14392 Hoover St, Unit C19, Westminster, CA 92638


After reviewing this page click HERE for quotes and directions to our Westminster CA shop...

Additional and unique furniture restoration information can be found at one of our sister sites listed below ~ ~