What is Wicker?
Wicker is a weaving process, not a material. The primary material used for
indoor furniture is rattan. Rattan is one of the oldest natural materials
used to make furniture. Rattan is a solid timber vine that grows in the
tropical rain forests of Indonesia, South-East Asia and the Malay Archipelago.
Unlike bamboo which is hollow, Rattan is solid. Large "broomhandle" sized poles
are used to make the frame of the furniture. They are steamed, put into a form of
whatever is the desired shape and left to cool. When cool they remain in that
shape. The large poles can be processed down to any smaller size. When you see a
rattan sofa the frame should be made of a strong, solid, "broom handle" sized
poles. This frame is then finished to one of many different available colors. To
make "wicker" furniture we take the same type of pole rattan frame described above
and we weave and attach the smaller size pieces (wicker) onto the outside of the
frame. This process of weaving and attaching the smaller pieces to the outside of
the pole rattan frame requires additional raw material and additional labor. That
is why most woven (wicker) furniture is more costly than pole rattan furniture.
When making outdoor furniture the frames are or should be made of aluminum.
Steel will rust, and pole rattan is porous and will absorb moisture and
eventually deteriorate. Aluminum does not rust and should be finished to
match the color of the furniture. Synthetic, non-pourous, vinyls and resins
are then hand woven and attached over the aluminum frames; this is referred
to as synthetic wicker. With today's materials and technology you may have
indoor and outdoor wicker products almost any way you want it, including
indoor and outdoor fabrics and stuffings as well.