Stories & Tidbits

An ongoing series of informational entries & your stories

My Story

February 26, 2016

Welcome to Hank’s website! Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone for all of your encouragement; I’m overwhelmed by your support! You might be asking yourself how does one get from retail management to seat weaving? Let me share my story ….

About a year ago my daughter Courtney asked me “Mom, what would you do if you could do anything in the world? Anything! Nothing standing in your way; what would you do?” I told her I would be a full-time Grandma just like I was a full-time Mom! Best career ever! However, her questions resonated with me. Or, more to the point my answer did. I was already a full-time Grandma! Really, what else would I do if I could do anything?

When I lost my job in December I had the opportunity to think very hard about that! I couldn’t bring myself to look for another retail job. Now Courtney’s questions were staring me in the face! The opportunity to reinvent myself at 60! But what…

My continuing love for antiques and having had my chairs re-caned last summer came to the surface as a real possibility for a new career. When I had my chairs redone the man that did the work said to me “Why don’t I teach you how to cane and rush chairs; no one knows how to do this anymore” and I said “I would love to learn how to do this! However, I have a job! When would I have time to learn something like this?”

After losing my job in December, I was brainstorming with my friend Deb, and the idea for ‘Hank’s’ started to take shape in my mind. I kept my thoughts quiet for a few weeks, not wanting to get shot down in a reality check from friends and family. When I finally broke the news that I was not going to work for a large corporation ever again, and that I was going to start a seat weaving business, I received nothing but support!! I called Vince the caner and asked if he was serious about teaching me and he said “when can you get here?”

When I was a stay-at-home Mom, I would say to myself, what are you going to do when the kids are grown and out of the house? I always said I was going to get an old pick-up truck and go antique hunting and refinish them like my father-in-law, Hank (no coincidence that my father-in-law and grandson are named Hank) once did. One day during this process I realized that my dream had come full circle, even though I still need the old pick-up! Lol!

Now, instead of being told, as I was once by my previous boss, “I get that you have a grandson, but I have a business to run”, I now say “I have a business to run because I have a grandson!” And yesterday 19-month old Henry (Hank) said “Workshop” for the first time and pointed to the basement door! He inspires me every day!






Caned Lincoln Rocker done by Hank's Cane & Rush Restoration

Lincoln Rocker & Hank

March 2, 2016

Check out the Lincoln Rocker I just finished! Hank and I tried it out yesterday and he approved! He fell asleep for his nap right away!!

Rattan Palm

Tidbits 

March 1, 2016

Caned furniture has been around for centuries.  Cane, which is harvested from the rattan palm, is thought to have originated in China.  Cane was used for everything from chairs to fishing traps to suspension bridges.  Today the rattan palm is harvested in the Philippines, Indonesia and  the Malay Peninsula.  Unlike bamboo which is hollow, the rattan palm is solid.  The stem is the most widely used part of the plant.  The thorny leaves are pared away exposing the outer bark which is used for cane.  The reed core  or pith has several uses as well, from hoop frames worn under petticoats in the 1800's, wicker furniture and dowel rods of today.

Antique Hip Rest Chair done by Hank's Cane & Rush Restoration

Hip Rest Chair

March 13, 2016

Round and curved chairs have a greater degree of difficulty but we mastered it! I chose to stain the cane to match a desk in my guest room, however leaving it natural also looks great! Remember if you have an old chair talk to me first before you toss it out!

Blind or French Caned Back circa 1890 done by Hank's Cane & Rush Restoration

Blind or French Cane 

April 6, 2016

Blind caning or French caning is the process of caning in which the holes are not drilled all the way through. Each piece of cane is cut and pegged individually. This process is most often used on chair backs, especially chairs from Europe.  

I finally tackled the first of four chairs I have that require blind caning on the chair backs.  I purchased them from Olde Chicago Antiques; circa 1890 they were most likely in a church on the altar.  Lay persons or choir director sat in these chairs.  I'm pretty satisfied with the results! Now, to stain or not to stain! 

Ladder Back Rush Chairs with Wrapped Corners done by Hank's Cane & Rush Restoration

Ladder Back Rush Chair 

April 11, 2016

 Ladder Back chairs with wrapped corners.  Ladder back chairs make a wonderful addition to any room.  They sit nicely in a corner of a dining room or bedroom.

Tidbits 

April 30, 2016

The history of the chair is very interesting.   Although in existence since the Early Dynastic Period of Egypt (3100 B. C.), chairs did not become commonplace until the 16th century .  In fact, chairs were a symbol of wealth and authority.   In ancient Egypt, chairs appear to have been of great richness and splendor, fashioned in ebony and ivory and covered in costly materials, denoting the rank or station of the owner.

Most common people used benches or stools until much later.  In the House of Commons in England and Canada the chair is still used as a sign of authority.  Also, we refer to heads of committees and boards of directors as a chairperson.  In Europe during the Renaissance the chair became more commonly used among all people and not just the privileged.  In America the chairs became more fashionable for the entire family in the 1880's.  Understandably, many people we see have an emotional attachment to their chairs and want to preserve that memory.

Fiber Rush Before & After done by Hank's Cane & Rush Restoration

Fiber Rush 

May 27, 2016

I found 2 of these little guys at the Kane County flea market. Painted black with a new rush seat, it's looking pretty good! This is another example of a rush seat with wrapped corners. The before and after...

Henry's Story Time Chair done by Hank's Cane & Rush Restoration

A Very Possessive Hank

July 6, 2016

My daughter Katie personalized the rush chairs for my grandsons, Hank and Charlie. Hank wanted his chair in his room and it's now his reading chair for story time! He's looking a little possessive here!

 Wrought Iron and Pressed Cane Bar Stools done by Hank's Cane & Rush Restoration

These are keepers!!

July 6, 2016

My favorite job so far! I purchased these bar stools from a wonderful woman I met while visiting my daughter in Minneapolis. She said they came from one of the mansions overlooking the rose garden. It's always better to keep cane natural to let it breath. I'm keeping these gems!

No Knot Hand Caning and Herringbone Weave done by Hank's Cane & Rush Restoration

Silent Auction

Sept 15, 2016

Hank's did the herringbone weave and the hand caning with no knots on these two chairs for St. Raymond's silent auction.

Hank's Cane & Rush Restoration

Tidbits

March 1, 2017

Wow! One year has gone by and I can only say that it has been an amazing journey!  I have learned a few things along the way; some I would say are business life lessons! Here are my top ten lessons:

  1.  You can find anything on the internet; just google it!  
  2.  You can do anything you set your mind to!
  3.  It is okay and advisable to say a little prayer over your work!
  4.  You can say a little prayer if you own your business!
  5.  If someone talks to you for an hour on the phone about how they will help  your business, well,  if it sounds to good to be true, IT IS!!
  6. The stress of starting your own business is less stressful than being in a job you don't like!
  7. Every chair DOES have a story!
  8. Caning is like a time machine, transporting you to different places and times!
  9. Vistaprint and Apple support are amazing times 10!!!
  10. I love that my grandsons Henry and Charlie help me in the workshop!  Well, right now Charlie helps by looking cute and Henry has little jobs he likes to do! 
  11. Okay, so one more!  This was hands down the best decision I've ever made!  Stay tuned!!


Hitchock Chairs hand caned done by Hank's Cane and Rush Restoration

My Caning Time Machine!

March 1, 2017

I absolutely loved working on these chairs; they have a wonderful story! The husband's ancestor was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence!! These chairs were strand caned, so four chairs took a couple of weeks to repair. Well, in my caning world, I was transported back to a pub in Boston where Sam Adams sat on one of these chairs with a tankard of ale and plotted the revolution!!

Eastlake Side Chair in New England Porch Weave

Kane County Flea Market!

August 27, 2017

I'm so excited to announce that I will be demonstrating strand caning at the Kane County Flea Market Sept 2-3 and I will have a few gems to sell! I have 2 of these cute little Eastlake Chairs done in New England Porch Weave!

Our Booth at the Kane County Flea Market

Kane County Flea Market!

June 30, 2018

I have not posted for almost a year for a wonderful reason!  Hank's has been BUSY!!  That's good news!!  The flea market is now a regular monthly event for Hanks and I now have a permanent booth in the South Trades building #17.  I have met so many wonderful people out there!  Who knew when I was taking the kids to the flea market 30 years ago that one day I would be a vendor!  Full Circle!

Brighton Pavillion Pressed Cane Settee

Brighton Pavillion Caned Bench

June 30, 2018

I picked this cute little bench up in Chicago.  Craigslist! The only thing it needed was a little pressed cane and voila!  I'm keeping it!

Strand Caned Canoe Seats by Hank’s Cane & Rush Restoration

Canoe Seats!!

July 

Who knew canoe seats were caned! I was so honored to hand cane the seats of this cedar canoe.  The client built the canoe in his garage.  A father son project.  His son chose New England porch weave for his seats.

The Lodge at The Clearing in Ellison Bay, Door County, WI

The Clearing Folk School

July 8-14

Oh how wonderful The Clearing Folk School in Door County is!!  Hank's was so fortunate to teach the 7 Step hand caning method last week!  The Clearing is named so as a place to clear your head, reconnect with nature and learn something new. Pictured is the Lodge.  Ahhh!!!

The Clearing in Ellison Bay, Door County, WI

The Clearing Folk School

July 8-14

This is the way I like to go to work everyday  The path to the workshop!

The Clearing in Ellison Bay, Door County, WI

The Clearing Folk School

July 8-14

My very happy students at our Friday night "show and tell".  Maria and Shirley completed their chairs using the 7 step method.

Hank's Cane & Rush Restoration Workshop View

My Daily View

December 30, 2018

As 2018 comes to an end, I reflect on how grateful I am to do what I love!  When you love what you do you never work a day!  And I share this awesome view from my workshop!  Happy New Year!!