Helen's "X" & Fishhead Detail Instructions.

Helen is kind enough to share some of her details on how to make an even more beautiful cane project. She was taught by some "old timers" that really paid attention to detail.  Planning for the diagonals so that they finish with an "X". Keeping the chair balanced, with fishheads at the same location on both rails & corners. In the picture that Helen sends, I have added RED ARROWS to identify the "X". Notice that Helen has accomplished "X" on all 4 rails, even though the chair is not straight railed.  The YELLOW ARROWS identify the fishhead (these are also referred to as fisheyes).

Helen writes:
I'm attaching a photo of the creative effort I put into a very small chair yesterday. The caning dimensions are only 12 X 13 so I decided to put an extra short row in the front and display the "X"s at the back.
Fortunately the holes were evenly drilled on this bell shaped seat and I was also able to balance all the fishheads, from side to side.

I have been in the retail ownership of a caning supply business since 1992 and have been caning for customers the past 8 years. I learned with great interest via books, videos and most importantly critiqued by two teachers of this craft in my area. Currently my price to cane is $1.00 per hole( but then I also get my supplies wholesale)!!

A suggestion I would like to pass along to caners:

For a crisp finished look it's most important to remember the "X". The "X"
will automatically happen once the caner understands what the 2 diagonal steps are meant to do. First, steps 1-4 are to set up a square, intersecting grid that will accept the diagonals. And diagonally supporting these "intersections", steps 5 & 6, should be done from your first draw to the last, even when you are weaving over the framework.

So, it's very important to keep asking yourself as you weave step 5 & 6 from the first through the last draw of each diagonal row, am I supporting every grid intersection and/or what will make the best looking "X" or do I need to do a fishhead.

Then don't forget to balance your work -- what's done on one side should be done directly on the other side as much as possible.

I REALLY appreciate this Web space and open forum provided by Wayne at MSU.

From the studio of Peerless Rattan---Helen
February 2004

Thank you Helen for these great details. I know that I'm going to try to improve my "X" on my next 7 step caning project. You do beautiful work.