George II Walnut Ladderback Chair – Part Five

Having read the last post in this series, a reader kindly emailed me this image of a pair of Grendey chairs with (presumably, later) stuff over seats.

Geo_II_mahogany_ladderback_chairs_c1745_01dFig. 1. Pair of Grendey ladderbacks. (Nick Brock Antiques)

When freshly rushed, the squab was of a variegated – though not unpleasant – green colour (fig. 2).

giiwglc_300814_01aFig. 2. The newly woven seat.

With a combination of natural and artificial colouring, the seat has adopted an older, mellower look (fig. 3).

giiwglc_300814_02bFig. 3. The completed ladderback chair.

As the chair sees regular use, the thick rush fibres will compress and the squab will settle further into the seat rails.

Jack Plane


About Jack Plane

Formerly from the UK, Jack is a retired antiques dealer and self-taught woodworker, now living in Australia.
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3 Responses to George II Walnut Ladderback Chair – Part Five

  1. Joe M says:

    Stop being so productive!!! It’s getting out of hand. beautiful work…again. (although from the last post, you said you were giving the seat work to someone else). Your putting the rest of us to shame…every day this is the first site I check.


  2. Vincent says:

    I’m a regular reader of your blog and always look forward to your interesting and informative articles. I have been following the posts and progress of the walnut ladder back chair with great interest and greatly admire your reproduction skills.

    I have been weaving rush seats for many years so have been eargly waiting for the rush to be installed on the chair.

    From what I can see in the photos Whoever wove the seat has done a very nice seat indeed. Did you do it yourself?

    My only disappointment is that you decided to alter the natural colour of the new rush seat, which in the seat bottoming world is very much frowned upon. The freshly woven colour of a rush seat shown in figure 2, is not often seen as most people only see old rush seats that have mellowed to a golden straw colour. The initial variegated colour which is quite interesting in its self and not unpleasant , only lasts for a few weeks before it starts to mellow and develop a more uniform colour. So over time the seat will constantly be changing colour, which in my view is the beauty of a natural rush seat.

    by adding colour to the seat and possibly a sealing agent the true natural colour and beauty of the seat may never be seen.


    • Jack Plane says:

      I can rush and cane and have done so on many occasions, but I don’t have access to rushes now, so I sent the squab to a professional bottomer. He has done much better work for me in the past when I had an antiques shop. The work he performed on this seat is quite coarse (about 6 or 7 to the inch). A seat of this period should be between 9 and 11 to the inch. As you can see in figure 2, the weave is also a little loose.

      One of the reasons for the delay in posting the final part in this series was that I wanted to allow the rush to mellow naturally: There was a lapse of three months between taking the photo in figure 2 and that of figure 3; during which time, the squab was left by a window in full sun.

      The colour I added (such as it was) was by way of a pale brown wax which was applied more to impart a slight sheen on the seat (as old seats display, through wear) than to drastically alter the colour. The minimal amount of wax will not affect continued ageing or deepening of the colour.

      Traditionally, rush seats were painted to even their colour, render the surface of the ageing rush less friable and to better resist their affinity for attracting dust. Natural rush seats are a relatively new phenomenon.



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