What’s the Deal with Rattan?

Rattan is one of the most popular materials to use when creating furniture. It’s adaptability and exotic aesthetic makes it a great choice for any type of building. It is one of the best ways to create a tropical feel in your home, no matter where you live. Hundreds of people around the world use rattan, but not many people understand it. What is its history? What is Rattan produced from? These questions, and many more will be shortly answered.

A brief history of rattan

rattan plantIt was during the height of the British Empire in the 19th century when tropical furniture became extremely popular. A lot of families that were once stationed in tropical and Asian countries returned to England with their bamboo and rattan furnishings. They were then brought indoors due to England’s cool climate. By the early 20th century, rattan furniture started to show up in the United States, this was due to travellers collecting and bringing rattan back on steamships. The earlier designs were made in a Victorian style. The majority of Hollywood set designers started to use rattan furniture in outdoor scenes. At the time, audiences craved the idea that exotic lands were filled with romance and adventure. Because of the popularity of rattan furniture, their demand increased drastically. Famous designer Paul Frankel started to create new designs for Rattan. Frankel is well known with the creation of the pretel armed chair, which was an alternate style at arm rests. Companies in South California quickly grasped onto this idea, creating their own unique designs. Do you remember the film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, or the popular TV series The Golden Girls? Rattan furniture featured in both of these. A lot of people don’t realise that those rattan pieces of furniture were actually restored from original pieces in the 1950s, showing just how long the material can last. Just like before, the use of rattan in films, television and pop culture created a renewed interest in the 1980s. It is still popular among numerous collectors and admirers. Some collectors are interested in the specific design in a rattan piece, while others look for a specific strand which is based at the arm or base of a chair. They find them alluring because of the way old pieces of furniture can still look brand new, without much effort. The way that rattan is incredibly easy to store is another positive.

Does rattan come from a tree or plant?

making rattanThe short answer is neither. It isn’t the sort of thing that you’d find in your back garden. Rattan is best compared to a trailing vine like palm material, that is commonly found in the tropical jungles of China, Malaysia and Asia. When identifying rattan, it is best done by touch. Their stems vary from 1 to 2 inches in diameter. The vines can grow anywhere between 200 to 500 feet. They are best compared to bamboo, the difference being that rattan stems are solid.

Rattan harvesting

Rattan is a popular material to use because of how cheap it is. The economic value of it helps to protect forest land because of it being an alternative to timber logging. Rattan is also incredibly easy to harvest. It only requires simple tools and it is also very easy to transport. Another major benefit to Rattan is that it grows much faster than the majority of tropical wood. This makes it a potential tool in forest maintenance. When rattan is harvested, it is then cut into 13 foot lengths, and the dry sheathing is removed. The stems are then dried in the sun and stored for seasoning. The long rattan poles are straightened, graded by quality and diameter, and then shipped to furniture manufacturers. The outer bark is used for canning. The inner, reed like material is used to weave wicker furniture. Rattan wasn’t introduced until the early 19th century. It quickly became one of the standard materials to use for canning. Its strength and ease of manipulation make it one of the most popular natural materials that can be used in wicker work. Rattan also grows a lot faster than other building materials. This makes it more environmentally friendly, as well as being more sustainable.

Rattan’s attributes Josepinism_Style_Furniture

Rattan’s use as a material for furniture, whether it be outdoor or indoor, is unmistakable. It can easily be bent a curved into whichever design the creator has in mind. Ratans light, golden colour and instantly brighten a room or outdoor environment. It can instantly convey a feeling of tropical paradise. Rattan is a very lightweight material, and it’s almost indestructible. Because of its lightweight characteristic, it can be easily moved and handled. It can withstand some of the most extreme conditions, no matter how warm or cold. Ratan has a natural resistance to any damage that insects might do it. This kind of furniture is a great idea if you have a house that young children live in. You do not have to hold them back around rattan furniture. The lightweight pieces won’t topple heavily on children, as well as not causing any damage to your flooring. If you’re someone who enjoys changing the layout of a room on a regular basis, then the lightness of rattan furniture allow you to move items about without much strength needed. One of the major benefits of rattan furniture is its low maintenance. The majority of other natural materials need to be treated with oil and preservatives. Rattan lasts for an impressive amount of time without the need for any maintenance. The furniture may require a dust with a nice brush for time to time, but in a short space of time the furniture will look as good as new. Any dirt that may appear can just be wiped with a wet cloth.

Rattan and bamboo

A lot of people seem to get confused about Rattan and Bamboo. Whilst they both share similar characteristics, they are not the same thing. Bamboo is a hollow grass which has horizontal growth ridges along its stems. It was mainly used for small pieces furniture and accessories during the late 1800s. Some bamboo furniture manufacturers used rattan poles for their smoothness and added strength. In modern day, bamboo is used more in construction projects rather than furniture. Bamboo also requires various oils if you want any furniture to look in good condition. Spilling anything on the bamboo can create permanent staining, so ensuring any liquid that falls on it gets cleaned up instantly is a must.

Rattan uses

Furniture making

Rattan_chairThe primary use of rattan is the making furniture and baskets. If cut into sections, rattan can be easily used as wood to create furniture. Rattan is incredibly adaptable, allowing various paints and stains. It’s available in many colour and it can be worked into different styles. Because of rattans versatility, in can be used for chairs, tables and settees. Rattans durability is one of the deciding factors for the majority of people that want to furniture a room. A lot of people use it in children’s rooms, playgrounds and gyms. A lot of corporate organisations use rattan furniture in waiting rooms to create a relaxed but professional atmosphere. The majority of people use rattan furniture on the outside of their homes, in their garden. When it comes to summer, this style of furniture can create an atmosphere that nothing else would. One of the things that makes rattan an ideal choice is its predictability. Unlike other furniture materials, it does not warp and it’s impossible to misshapen. It remains in the same great shape it has from day one. Any dirt or mud can easily be washed off with warm water and soap. The majority of rattan furniture will never fade in the sun. This means that they can be put in gardens, as well as patios or conservatories.

Arts and handicraft

The physical properties of rattan also make it a popular choice for handicraft and art pieces. Rattan baskets and plant containers are just a few of the decorative works that can be created. Its durability and resistance to splintering make it popular material for martial arts. Filipino martial arts use them as striking weapons for use throughout training. Rattan, along with bamboo and birch, can be found in musical instruments. Mallets used in vibraphone, xylophone and marimba benefit from the durability, allowing them to function without any need of repair or replacement for a long time.

Shelter material

A lot of native or locals from rattan rich countries employ the aid of this place in home building projects because of its sturdiness. Because of how cheap its processing and maintenance is, it is used regularly as housing material in rural areas. Certain charitable shelter organisations use Rattan as their main building material. The low cost installation and the way it is easy to use makes it ideal for any charity and construction crew.

Food source and medicinal properties

The fruit of various rattans exudes a red resin which is called dragon’s blood. In the Mediterranean area, it is used as a dye, painting pigment and medicine. Locals of Moomy city on Socotra island use dragon’s blood resin as a multi talented cure all. It is used for such things as general wound healing, curing diarrhea, lowering fevers, dysentery diseases and mouth ulcers. It can also be used for healing mouth, throat, intestines and the stomach, as well as antiviral for respiratory viruses, stomach viruses and skin disorders such as eczema. The resin can be used in dying wood with a light peach hue. It’s commonly used for dying violins, as well as other instruments that have wooden finishes.

Rattan and science

In early 2010, scientists in Italy announced that rattan wood was going to be tested in a new “wood to bone” process for the production of artificial bone. This process involves taking small pieces of rattan and placing it in a furnace. Calcium and carbon are then added. The wood is then further heated under intense pressure in another oven styled machine. A phosphate solution is then introduced. The process produces an almost exact replica of bone material. The whole process takes around 10 days. The tests were done in sheep, and there has been no signs of rejection. Particles that are found in the sheep’s bodies have migrated to the wooden bone and formed long, continuous bones. The new bone-from-wood programme is funded by the Europeans Union. Implants into humans are anticipated to start in 2015.

Supply of rattan

Even though rattan is used in a number of products, the most common is in the manufacture of furniture. Previously, the majority of the commercially harvested raw vine was exported to different overseas manufacturers. In mid 1980s, Indonesia introduced an export ban on raw rattan vine. They aimed to encourage the local manufacture of rattan furniture rather than exporting it. The government had intended to add value to the exported product while maintaining the stocks of wild rattan. It wasn’t until recently that almost all rattan was collected from tropical rainforests. With forest destruction and conversion increasing quickly, the living area of rattan has decreased rapidly and it did suffer from a supply shortage. The Forest Department in Indonesia is aware of any vulnerability rattan has. They established a cultivation program which safeguards the long term supply of rattan cane for the industry. Commercial cultivation of rattan is one of the most viable options, and offers the best possibility for any future supply.

Rattan and you

Rattan is one of the most adaptable materials there is on this planet. Not only does it work for some of the most popular furniture designs in the world, but it creates shelter for people in rural areas, as well as supplying medicinal values that can benefit a person. The supply of rattan is incredibly large, and it makes a great alternative to standard wood designs. It doesn’t matter if you simply want to create a chilled outdoor vibe, or a comfortable settee in a patio, there are always numerous options when you own rattan furniture. All pictures from wikipedia.org