A French Cane Bed Restoration

t 2.jpg  One day a  Toronto client phoned to tell me she had just purchased another bed that needed a 'bit' of work and let me know that it was waiting for me.

  As an antique/decor store owner, she was creating a booth for an upcoming  T.O. design show and felt the bed she had just purchased could be just the piece to create a unique focal point. She went on to described this buy as the most gorgeous cane headboard footboard she had come across yet.


 Here's a final photo I received showing a section of  her completed display.

 You can see parts of the caned headboard/footboard in the setting and indeed it was a stunning piece of furniture. A french walnut Louis style headboard and footboard.

 I had worked on cane beds before but what was striking about this one was the fact that the cane work went from crest to floor bottom and it was all double hand caned. Each section of this bed frame had two walls of cane!

  This I had never seen before.



 Here the cane restoration work is complete. 

 The cane headboard is ready for it's next stop... a custom mattress maker. Most antique beds that I've seen don't accept today's standard (larger) sizes. 

 The footboard never made it to my shop because it was in no need of cane repair. It was already at the mattress shop.



 This shows the one major cane repair that was done.

 The removal and reweaving of the inside right panel. The old cane panel had a such large tear in it that it made it unsuitable for mending. 

 At this point, the new cane work is ready to be color matched. Not an exact science for me by any means, but by adding color pigment, distressing and literally adding the 'dirt'  back in, the new cane (in a best case scenario) will 'match' well.

  The other minor repair work was invisible mending. That was done to about 15 different broken cane areas. I try to repair those areas that distract the eye but not the smaller ones that give it character.



 I often call this the 'bad hair' stage.

 Pegged blind cane work means that each strand of cane is woven one at a time. The hundreds of individual strands will be snipped carefully leaving just enough tail to be placed in a partially drilled hole and held by a peg. Look carefully at the pattern and you may be able to make out that I'm half way through the second diagonal weave here. These are the strands woven from your bottom left to top right.

 This will be the last weave before all strands are snipped and pegged. A decorative binder cane is then placed like a race track along the outside edge of the cane panel. It's main purpose it is to cover the drilled cane holes.



 Close up of previous photo.

 See the shadow of a second panel of cane work  behind mine? Hence the term 'double caned'. It can grace the very middle of a bedroom floor (maybe it had) and be beautiful to behold from any angle. Decadent.

 That's why I consider this the 'Royal Royce' of cane work.

 It would be hard for me to guess how many hours it would have taken to complete this entire headboard from start to finish.



puttibed7.jpg Very early stages of cane work.

 At this point I've woven some key strands vertically and horizontally to get a feel of what the curve may look like. Choosing the correct balance of tension among the strands plays a big part in getting the panel to look good in circumstances like this where there are two changing planes . I'm also trying to guess whether this approach will match the cane work on the left side of this bed frame. 

 The tools resting on the bottom of the frame gives you an idea of how large the weaving is on this piece. The top of this headboard reached my shoulders.

 As a follow up I can tell you that the bed was purchased within a month or two by a couple from the United States. Oddly enough, while showing a portfolio of my work to a new prospect about a year later, the gentleman smiled as he told me he knows this bed because as an employee of their's, he had stayed at their home on occasion to have seen it there. I have the couples name and business number somewhere because he believed that they would be happy to talk to me about their purchase. 

 Some days... it is a small world.


  Tony Lolic.


Posted on Tuesday, September 1, 2009 at 01:25PM by Registered CommenterTony Lolic in | Comments Off