What is the difference between wicker and rattan? This is the most common question posed by our customers. My response is as follows: rattan is a raw material whereas wicker is the product of the craft of weaving natural materials together. If you think of wool or yarn vs knitting ormacramé for instance the relationship is similar.
Rattan is a climbing vine-like palm that grows in the rainforest . Although it has a solid core, unlike bamboo which is hollow, it is very pliable when steamed. I have visited many factories overseas and watched as the steamed lengths of rattan are so easily molded around pre-engineered forms. These forms can be quite simple. Imagine a sheet of plywood with pegs sticking up around which the rattan is bent to create the frame of any given chair or table for instance. Some forms are made of metal. Each manufactured item has its own unique set of forms for its production. When the rattan cools or is heated by torch it retains its shape and can then be assembled and prepared for the final process of weaving. The rattan poles are typically 1-2 inches in diameter when harvested. I witnessed a machine that takes a large diameter length of rattan and converts it to smaller diameters. Think of a pasta machine making spaghetti! These varying diameter rattan cores are then woven on the frames to create unique pieces of wickerwork. Every piece is handmade and therefore unique.
Rattan is the strongest material used to make wickerwork but there are other materials such as willow, fern, sea grass, cane, reed or bamboo which can be used as well. Wicker can be woven of any natural material.
A quality piece of wicker furniture will last for generations and add a certain charm that no other product can offer. Wicker lovers are encouraged to visit us at Wickerworld and if you’re new to the experience you are in for a treat. Come in and we will help you find the perfect fit for your space.