Alan and Rosie celebrate the completion of his first hand-woven cane chair

Alan Davidson of Asheville, NC

As a teenager, I discovered caned chairs – I began to appreciate their symmetry, precision and strength. The beauty of the pattern amazed me.  While an intriguing thought, learning to cane was never much of a reality until recently. As lovers of crafts, my wife and I love showing off Asheville to visitors.  On one visit we discovered an addition to the Curve Studios in the River Arts District – Silver River Center for Chair Caning. Finally someone to teach me and to unlock the mysteries of caning.

An email and a couple of calls and I was all set to go.  Brandy ClementS (co-owner along with her husband Dave KlingLer) was exceptionally accommodating, allowing me to fit the five (what turned out to be private) sessions into my schedule.  I knew that my excitement was warranted after meeting Brandy, the self-professed chair nerd, and Dave.  Their friendliness and enthusiasm immediately put me at ease – my performance anxiety went from off-the-chart to manageable. Before beginning I learned a bit about caning alternatives and materials and about chairs in general.  After a brief description of the 7 step method and its combination of vertical, horizontal and diagonal lacing, off we went.  I was led through the first step.  Brandy made sure that my cane was sufficiently moist and that each finished row was tight, without twists, and properly secured.

After the first day, things changed significantly.  Brandy asked how much supervision was enough.  We agreed that she would do periodic checks to identify errors, respond to queries, and hold my hand only when I started a new step.  By the end of the second day I was feeling like part of the place, not a newbie caner.  The next three days were a pleasure with chats on numerous topics of interest to us both interspersed with lots of hard work.  I even got to show off my progress to visitors and potential customers of Silver River.

When the fifth session came to a close and my chair reached completion, I was almost sad to say goodbye and head home with my chair. Not perfect and maybe not a future family heirloom, but pretty darn good.  Only a real chair nerd could uncover all the imperfections.  And fortunately, Brandy and Dave spared me any disconcerting details.

Overall, learning to cane at Silver River was one of the best experiences in recent memory.  I acquired an amazing skill, gained an increased appreciation for antiques, and created a conversation piece for my home.  More importantly, I had a ball for five days and met two terrific individuals who also happen to be extremely talented craftspersons.  If you have the time and the will, this is the place.  I couldn’t recommend it more highly.

student working on laced cane chair

Mark Brennan of Charlotte, NC took the 5 class Chair Caning Boot Camp to complement his furniture restoration business.

Mark Brennan of Charlotte, NC:

I have done furniture for many years and customers have asked me if I did chair caning. I thought it was time to find someone in NC. I searched the internet and found Brandy and Dave in Asheville. A 3 hour trip each way. It was well worth it. I have taken 4 or 5 classes from them. They are fantastic instructors, very knowledgeable and patient. I will be back for more.

Pressed Caning or Machine Woven Caning Class.

Jackie Kirkey of Johnson City, TN:

After seeing a segment on WLOS I approached Brandy and David at Silver River Center for Chair Caning because I had a family heirloom that needed to be re-caned.

Brandy suggested I take a class and learn to re-cane the chair myself.  I asked a friend to take it with me and that was the beginning of a new passion. The class allowed me to get the basics under my belt, on a simple piece before I tackled a round seat. One thing I like is their approach in directing me to a book, showing me how, letting me do, and then showing me how to fix breaks and my own mistakes.

I would recommend Silver River Center for Chair Caning to people who have a piece of furniture in need of any seat weaving, either to learn and take on their own project(s), or to have Brandy and David do the work.  For me, it was better than using an online reference because of their personalized feedback. I found the experience rewarding because of their attention to detail.

I am on my 4th project – what more can I say.

Collaborations with Brian Boggs Chairmakers include hickory bark and Shaker tape woven chairs

Brian Boggs, Brian Boggs Chairmakers. Asheville, NC 

After 30 years of doing all our seat weaving in house, it has been a great pleasure to be able to put that task in the competent hands of David and Brandy at Silver River. Our chairs go to some of America’s top connoisseurs of seating, so we can’t farm anything out without great confidence in the hands we entrust our work to. Brandy and Dave have not only been very professional in handling our orders, they have done perfect work every time. Silver River has taken the worry out of our weaving.