What is Natural Rattan?

Natural Rattan Explained

Rattan is a type of climbing palm that is very long with a slender stem which maintains an almost uniform diameter throughout its length. It grows in a manner similar to a vine, but has an inner core and is not hollow like bamboo. The outer portion of the stem is extremely hard and durable, while the inner portion of the stem is softer and porous. The shade in the rain forests is very dense and climbing on tree limbs is the most practical way for the rattan vines to reach the light above the forest canopy. This makes Rattan ideal for continuous strips of reed and it is considered to be one of the strongest woods available ideal for weaving.

The straight rattan is usually steamed and then bent into the desired shape through the use of specialized shapers. Once the rattan has dried, it will retain its shape forever. These rattan poles are often used to form the frames of what will become rattan/ wicker/ woven conservatory furniture such as chairs, tables and sofas.
Rattan is incredibly durable and can withstand extreme heat without splitting or drying out so is the ideal solution in conservatories.

Where does Rattan originate from?

Rattan, originates from South East Asia from Loas, Cambodia, Philippines, Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. There are over 500 species of Rattan.

When is Rattan harvested?

There is no harvesting season for rattan, it grows all year round. Harvesting can be difficult due to the landscape and inaccessibility of the jungle. The harvest is very labour intensive and is usually undertaken by teams of local villagers. It is normally cut by workers climbing trees and manually cutting the rattan with their machetes.

How is Rattan processed?

Once the rattan has been harvested, it has to be prepared before it can be used in weaving for rattan-based craft. The first step is to wash the rattan in the river to remove any stains and clean the rattan by stripping away the layer of silica that tends to coat the core rattan.

The next step is to cure the rattan, turning its colour from a pale green into the yellow that most people are familiar with by smoking it. The raw, washed rattan is loaded into what looks like a wood-framed tent that has its floor about 12 inches off the ground. Many "bushels" of raw rattan are piled on top of one another until the wooden frame is full. The frame is then covered with tarpaulin, which is secured to the ground using large stone weights. Then charcoal is ignited and placed under the tent, and the smoking process begins. It usually takes about a day or so to complete this curing and smoking procedure.

After this process, the rattan has to be dried to remove any moisture and make the product suitable for use in production. This is usually achieved by using the natural heat produced from natural sunlight, this takes up to another two or three days to complete.

After drying, the rattan is ready for use. It is then further processed into peel for weaving, or core products that are flexible and can be used for weaving to create the furniture.

What is the difference between Rattan and Wicker?

There is no material on Earth called wicker. Some manufacturers may even use the phrase cane furniture in place of either rattan or wicker. It is essentially the same thing as wicker, but the material used in the weaving may or may not be rattan.

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