Chair seating with cane, rush, willow or cord with Rachael South

Ref: SLW32279

Book now

Places available

About this course

Learn traditional chair seating techniques, including handling materials, weaving and the finishing process. Bring a chair or stool to re-seat in one of the materials listed.

Course Description

Traditional chair seating, with either cane, rush, willow or paper cord, will be taught, depending on chair projects your bring. The course aims to give a good grounding in whichever seating technique you choose, to explain the stages of this work and the methods of preparing and handling the materials. You may complete one rush dining chair, or complete/partially complete one caned bedroom chair during the course or reach a stage where you can easily finish at home. You will be given demonstrations and instructions for the final techniques, if necessary.

Caning: the six-way standard method of caning will be taught, unless you prefer to learn another pattern, for the purpose of matching with a set, etc. As time permits, other patterns can be practised on sample frames, if desired.

Rushing: rush will be used to give the traditional English rush chair seat pattern, unless the chair has been worked previously in another way. Continental patterns may be woven, if appropriate.

Other seats: Danish cord, seagrass or willow can be used for seating, provided that the tutor is contacted a minimum of three weeks beforehand (please email [email protected]).

It is essential that the chair you bring is structurally in a sound condition and you do the necessary preparatory work before the course – see below. Should you need to contact the tutor, please email via the bookings office.

On the first evening, we will assess the chairs or stools brought in by students and look at the materials we will be using over the weekend.


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops until 9pm, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

Course Materials


  • On this course, all of the materials for completing one seat in either cane, rush or willow will be provided. Cord can be supplied by the tutor, providing it is requested well in advance – please see below.

What students need to bring

  • Please bring a chair in need of reseating with either, cane, rush, paper cord or seagrass as listed. The chair frame should be repaired, polished or painted before coming to the course, as this cannot be done easily after the cane or rush is woven in. The tutor can offer advice for the frame preparation on the course, but it is better to have this done before the course, as follows:
  • For caning: the old cane should be cleared from the frames by cutting the cane strands underneath and knocking out the pegs from the underside. If it is found that some pegs have been glued in, they should be drilled out with a small hand drill, taking great care not to damage the wood. Cut the old cane sheet as close to the frame as possible and bring this to the course.
  • For rush seats: the old seat should be cut off carefully and brought to the course, in case it is an unusual pattern which is to be replaced. This should be done by cutting down just inside the seat frame and easing the seat downwards. This may reveal necessary repair to the frame.
  • To ensure the smooth running of the course, please contact the tutor as soon as possible if you have any queries and to let the tutor know which materials you require, so that these can be ordered. Please email [email protected] and include your name, course title and course dates, ideally with a digital image of your seat.
  • Wear covered footwear in the workshop – this is an essential health and safety requirement.
  • Please bring as many of the following as you have available:
  • For a chair with a cane seat:
  • Chair for caning
  • Stanley knife/similar sharp craft knife with a narrow blade or a good penknife
  • Mallet or small hammer
  • Sponge/small piece of towelling
  • Notebook and pencil
  • Pair of scissors for cutting cane or side cutters
  • A clearer (if possible), i.e. a punch with a diameter smaller than the holes drilled in the chair (can be made by sawing off the end of a screwdriver or 3" nail)
  • Small stool (optional) for student's comfort whilst working
  • A cushion
  • Spectacles (if worn)
  • For chair with a rush seat:
  • Chair for re-seating
  • An old flannelette blanket/old bedspread/piece of sacking of a similar size for wrapping up damp rushes
  • Scissors for cutting rush
  • J-cloth/flannel or piece of rag
  • Small stool (optional) for student's comfort whilst working
  • Small ball of soft string
  • A cushion
  • 1 or 2 spring clothes pegs
  • Stuffing stick, wooden spoon or wooden kitchen spatula
  • For chairs with seats made of other types of cord, e.g Danish or paper cord, or seagrass, the tutor can advise individually on tools and equipment to bring.
  • N.B. Tools may also be borrowed from the tutor. Standard cane and rush is available at the College.

Available to buy

  • Available from tutor:
  • Depending on availability at the time, the tutor may have a limited number of second hand foot stools for rushing and small practice frames for caning to purchase, should you wish to try another technique after completing the seat on the chair you bring before the end of the course.

Additional information

Wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio. This includes stout covered footwear i.e. no open-toes or sandals. Safety boots, if specified.


Rachel South portrait

Rachael South

Rachael South was taught chair caning by her father who had also learned from his father. She has been teaching for eight years and has original woven furniture on display at the Museum of London and is a member of the Basketmakers Association and a Yeoman of the Worshipful Company of Basketmakers.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

Courses of interest

Further study options

Take the next step in your creative practice, with foundation level to Masters in Fine Art study. 

Depending on your experience, start with an Online Foundation Certificate in Art and Design (one year, part-time), a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design made up of 10 short courses taken over two years (part-time) or advance your learning with our BA (Hons) Art and Contemporary Craft: Materials, Making, and Place (six years part-time). All will help you develop core skills, find direction in your practice and build an impressive portfolio in preparation for artist opportunities or higher-level study. See all degree and diploma courses.