by Tom and Julia Matthews

Natural Rush

Here is where our rush comes from.
This local swamps' owner cannot understand why on earth anyone
would want to spend any time whatsoever in "that buggy quagmire".

Other things grow in the swamp too. This is the safest birds nest I may
have ever seen. This poison ivy is mixed in here and there along with
surprisingly deep water holes resulting from beaver activity. The snakes
and snapping turtles seem to want nothing to do with us and are rarely seen.

This is the haul for the day.
This tarp full of rush took about six hours to fetch home.
Preparing it and stacking it to dry will take the rest of the day.

After it has been separated and cleaned up the
pile is smaller but the material is looking fine.
This is good stuff being eight feet in average length.

I don't have a picture of it drying, but what we do is spread
it out on two by two's for about a week in the top of the barn.
After drying, I bundle it into bunches of about two pounds each.

Finally the the material is ready for weaving
and I can sneak off leaving all the real work up to Julie.

Here's a shot of our corporate mascot modeling alongside
a typical seat job. You can see the bottom of the seat
where the rushes are tucked in as each corner is turned.
This is what gives the distinct look to the underside
of a natural rush weaving job.

Same chair here showing progress from the topside.

Same chair again one month later with a coat of finish.
It is starting to change color. It will be at least a year
before it has the golden tone familiar to us on antiques.

Here, a second example of her work.

This corner chair has had one seat rail rung replaced, been reglued,
cleaned and polished to be made ready for her task of weaving a new seat.

All phases done in proper period method.

Her natural rush weaving rate is twelve dollars per widest inch
making a small twelve inch seat nearly one hundred fifty dollars
for labor with another charge for the material is added to that.
I value my home harvested material at eight dollars per pound.

Professional Restorers International