Your Logo Goes Here
Your Fully Branded Digital Publishing Platform
ANY PEOPLE IN THE
United States associate wicker furniture with the years since the Victorian Age. In many cases, the shape of wicker furniture certainly seems to evoke a certain Victorian sensibility; an emphasis on grace and even an elaborate style.
However, the truth about wicker and rattan history is much deeper. In fact, the history goes so far back that it just may surprise you.
Because wicker is a weaving process, it may be said that the first human beings to build shelter using a palm-weaving process were actually the first wicker furniture makers.
Weaving as a process for survival – building shelters, constructing clothing, etc. – is as ancient to human beings as is agriculture itself.
WICKER FURNITURE'S HISTORY IS DEEPLY EMBEDDED...INTO THE HISTORY OF CIVILIZATION ITSELF
So it may come as no surprise in this context to learn that wicker furniture’s history is not only deeply embedded throughout the years, but embedded into the history of civilization itself.
From basket weaving in the Fertile Crescent to Victorian wicker furniture to the modern age of outdoor-friendly furniture, wicker-rattan is a category of construction that has built a strong legacy throughout the world’s history.
But it only makes sense to start at the beginning; and by that, we mean the
beginning with an examination into the roots (forgive the pun) of Rattan itself.
Rattan vines growing in a jungle:
These tropical vines are excellent alternatives to wood products used in the making of high-quality home furnishings for indoor or outdoor use. They're easier to harvest and transport than timber, and grow more quickly than trees.
Rattan: A Botanical History
In the plant kingdom, there is a family you might recognize: that of the
The name might look like a tongue twister, so allow us to translate into a word that might be a little more familiar:
. (The widespread use of the word "palm" has led to many people renaming this botanical family the
This family includes 202 genera and around 2,600 individual species. Move a little further down the family tree and you’ll find the subfamily
, which consists of three further sub groupings, or “tribes”:
The result is that the word “Rattan” actually does not refer to a specific species of plant, but rather an entire group of plants that fall under the “tribe” of
, or Rattan plants.
THERE ARE SOME 600 SPECIES THAT FALL UNDER THE CATEGORY OF RATTAN
In fact, there are some 600 species that fall under the category of Rattan. Many of these species actually differ in their growth behaviors. Some Rattan plants grow as shrubs, while others follow the “climbing habit” typically associated with palm plants.
Generally, the growth habits of rattan plants help scientists classify and separate each species. Rattan utilized for furniture tends to come from the high-growing plants that grow strong, long stems; however, a variety of rattan plants can be used for different purposes.
Unlike many other agricultural innovations that helped spark the agricultural revolution, the utilization of rattan plants did not come about as the result of cultivation. Instead, they largely were picked from wild growth throughout their history, to this day.
Overall, the human harvesting and use of palm plants has a rich history. The natural advantages present in many palm plants, from its generally lightweight-but-strong texture to its easy weaving and strong leaves, can come in handy in a number of ways. Coconut, for example, is a highly useful and edible fruit of the coconut palm.
It’s not unreasonable to assume that many members of the palm family had a vital role in the history of civilization because of their impact on trade. However, rattan stands out in the palm family for its own unique characteristics and uses, and it’s important to review these before further delving into the history of wicker furniture.
RATTAN AS ITS OWN PLANT
Throughout history, rattan was harvested from the wild because of two main advantages: it is both strong and malleable, making it perfect for the structuring of crafts including furniture.
Much of rattan's use in ancient history, however, was relegated to basket weaving. In fact, scientists have carbon-dated many baskets to as far back as 8000 B.C., perhaps even further. This predates even pottery, suggesting that rattan ( and many other similar materials) had a key role in shaping human history.
The word “rattan” itself comes from the Malay word rotan. It’s appropriate that the name of the plant comes from this corner of the world, as the plant itself can trace its origins to tropical and subtropical Asia.
As a plant that survives well in the tropics, where heavy rain is part of the annual climate, it’s no surprise that rattan continues to thrive there, being mostly produced in Indonesia and Southeast Asia.
A few of the many hundreds of antique/vintage rattan baskets for sale on
(scroll L to R):
Sculptural Japanese Ikebana basket ($5,500); lidded nesting baskets with carved swan handles ($575/on sale $180); Chinese woven lidded basket ($1,857/on sale $500); Gazelle Chinese lidded basket ($39); boat basket ($80/on sale $70).
Although rattan comes in a variety of shapes and sizes depending on the individual species of the “tribe,”
generally shares a number of characteristics, many of which make it ideal for its use in wicker furniture.
Primarily, rattan’s generally slender shape, full stem, and barbed leaves separate it from a number of other similar materials such as palm and bamboo. Let’s take a closer look at the characteristics of this tribe.
The long, thin stem of rattan that grows high is very strong, lightweight, and generally easy to shape.
This means that rattan itself is not only ideal for weaving, but also works well structurally in the building of a variety of furniture types (though much rattan furniture also will be reinforced with wood, if need be).
A main difference between rattan and bamboo is that while bamboo stems are hollow, rattan stems are not; they’re rattan all the way through.
Although bamboo is strong, rattan is better suited for furniture because bamboo is more likely to crack and split under more weight.
The leaves of the rattan may be what differentiate it the most from other plants in the palm family.
Most palms are clustered into a sort of “crown” shape. A rattan plan doesn’t look like this. Instead, the leaves are pointed into barbed tips.
Because of the slender stems of rattan plants, the slender leaves contribute to an overall physical difference that makes rattan easy to differentiate from other plants in the palm family.
Like many similar plants, rattan can have a resin, specifically from the fruit of fruit-bearing rattan trees.
MOVEMENT OF EARLY RATTAN
Of course, rattan itself couldn’t have influenced civilization in the myriad of ways that it did (read about in the next section) if it had stayed primarily in Asia and Indonesia.
Some histories trace the trading of early rattan to its original spot of Indonesia, eventually reaching mainland China through trade. From China, it eventually spread to Japan. Of course, tracing the history of rattan trade throughout Southeast Asia is very difficult due to the problems inherent in dating and finding similar artifacts throughout the world.
The spread of ancient rattan may have been aided by the fact that rattan grows year-round; it’s not seasonal like some other plants. (This is a favorite fact for rattan fans, especially those concerned about the impact of harvesting material like wood on the environment).
This encourages year-round trade, of course, and makes trading across oceanic distances favorable, which may help explain how rattan was able to reach the Fertile Crescent, including ancient Egypt.
However, it’s important to remember that while these near east ancient civilizations almost certainly created wicker weaves. They did not necessarily use rattan. It was far more likely to find rattan wicker in ancient China and Japan, for example, thanks to their proximity to where rattan was most prevalent.
ABOVE (L to R):
These three wicker chairs showcase the highly ornate designs commonplace in the making of wicker and rattan during the Victorian period. The third photo is of a "photograher's chair," circa 1890.
BELOW (L to R):
High Victorian six-piece wicker parlour set; Victorian "ball and stick" multi-shelf; small Victorian chair with harp motif back.
Ancient Wicker: Egypt, Rome and China
The history of rattan as a material for producing wicker weaving materials is difficult to trace.
It's unknown just how prevalent the rattan trade was from Southeast Asia and Australasia into the Fertile Crescent, where many of history’s great civilizations would grow to thrive and develop.
What is clear, however, is that wicker furniture and basket weaving was as integral to the formation of early civilization from Egypt to China as was, perhaps, any other method of construction or craftsmanship.
Wicker in Ancient Egypt:
Our first stop is in Egypt, where the oldest examples of wicker have been found. Considering that ancient Egypt’s history dates back several thousand years, it’s not difficult to see the impact that wicker had on civilization.
There is no evidence to link ancient Egyptian wicker to rattan materials. Most scholars believe that ancient Egyptian wicker simply came from the lush source of reeds and fiber materials available around the Nile Delta. The Nile, of course, was the source of just about every material imaginable to the Egyptians, so it’s no surprise that wicker finds its roots there as well.
The Nile wasn’t only a source of reeds, but also entire varieties of “swamp grasses.”
Generally, these reeds were wet (hence the term “swamp” grasses), but it wasn’t long before ancient Egyptians discovered the strength of their reeds after they were dried. Given the abundance of sun in northern Africa, this was not a difficult process.
ARCHAEOLOGISTS HAVE FOUND CHAIRS, BASKETS AND CHESTS MADE FROM WICKER-WEAVING IN TOMBS OF PHARAOHS
The process of drying out reeds that had already been moist not only allowed ancient Egyptians to discover how durable and malleable they were (e.g., the reeds could be molded into a certain position when wet and, as they dried, they would eventually come to hold that shape).
Today’s process of molding rattan is actually not entirely different from this ancient process. As the old saying goes: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it."
It’s believed that the distribution of wicker crafts varied according to class and wealth. For example, archaeologists have found chairs, baskets and chests made from wicker-weaving in the ancient tombs of Pharaohs. Evidence suggests that the “average” Egyptian family might have only been able to afford a couple of these luxury items.
Just as is the case today, exotic materials created by specific cultures would have been popular throughout ancient history. Wicker materials from Egypt were just as easy to trade as any other material, which helped wicker spread throughout the region of the Fertile Crescent, and even across the Mediterranean Sea.
Given how light these materials were, (similar to the rattan materials of today), it was not difficult to ship and transport wicker throughout the region. This helps explain the abundance of wicker crafts created throughout antiquity.
in Ancient Rome:
Rome conquered Egypt during the civil war between Cleopatra (with her lover Marc Antony) against Octavian (the future “Augustus” and first emperor of Rome). When Octavian won, the Ptolemaic dynasty of Egypt – which had been ruling since the days of Alexander the Great – came to a close and Egypt came under control of ancient Rome.
The Romans were fond of exotic cultures, particularly that of Egypt. In fact, the Romans were happy to absorb the best characteristics of other cultures into their own; they even adopted the Greek system of mythology, giving their gods and goddesses new Roman names.
Wicker was no exception. Romans not only took to the Egyptian practice but also expanded on it, using wicker weaves to create privacy screens. Some say it may have been the ancient Romans who came up with the idea of creating swings made of wicker, a practice that continues to this day.
EGYPTIANS USED THE ENTIRE COLOR PALETTE TO PAINT ON WICKER; ROMANS FAVORED NEUTRAL TONES, SUCH AS BEIGE OR WHITE
Although the Egyptians tended to be fond of elaborate, exotic weaves, the Romans quickly adapted the wicker to suit their own tastes. Straighter lines and curves now seemed to take over the world of wicker.
While Egyptians used the entire color palette to paint on wicker, the Romans favored neutral tones, such as beige or white colors.
Because Rome contributed its massive infrastructure to the spread of wicker, it could be said that wicker truly gained popularity in the world when it was used throughout Rome.
Ancient Rome was able to unify the culture of the Mediterranean; thus, its influence on the world of wicker can’t be ignored.
WICKER TRULY GAINED WORLDWIDE POPULARITY WHEN USED THROUGHOUT ROME
Specifically, Rome’s control and influence over the entire European continent should be remembered, because Europe would become the foothold for wicker through the Dark Ages, allowing the practice to be spread throughout the world later on. One place in particular wicker would later spread: China.
Wicker in China
Given China’s proximity to the ideal rattan-growing areas of Southeast Asia and Australasia, it may be tempting to presume its history of wicker is even richer than that of Egypt and Rome.
However, despite the abundant resources available for wicker weaving in China, some sources say that wicker did not reach China until the 15th century – well after the fall of Rome and especially after the heights of ancient Egypt.
The chief reason for the lack of wicker in China before then was that they simply weren’t familiar with the process. Trade routes between Europe and China had been established earlier than the 15th century, of course.
Marco Polo, the Italian (specifically, Venetian) merchant, traveled to China and documented these travels in the 13th and 14th centuries. (His adventures did a lot to establish a link between the two continents in terms of culture, trade and exploration.)
CHINA'S CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE WORLD OF WICKER WERE SIGNIFICANT; ITS PEOPLE USED A SMALLER, THINNER WEAVE FOR STORAGE BOWLS AND BOXES
This may help explain the delay in wicker in China before the 15th century. However, once discovered, contributions by China to the world of wicker were significant. Its people enjoyed using a smaller, thinner weave that worked well for storage bowls and boxes, and were especially preoccupied with creating lightweight boxes to store and protect their writings.
Wicker would go on to have an influence in the continent of Africa as well. However, its contributions to the world of wicker is generally not considered as significant of those listed above, probably due to a lack of resources.
WICKER IN EUROPE & THE VICTORIAN AGE
People who associate wicker-weaving with a more modernist approach – from the 19th century on – would likely appreciate how popular wicker became during the Victorian Age (the period of British history from 1837 through 1901 during the reign of Queen Victoria).
By this time, the American colonies had already become the American states. And while wicker as an art form had already arrived in the colonies during the age of exploration, it wouldn’t be until the Victorian Age that wicker would truly rise to prominence again.
Wicker in this era also would go on to be explored, refined and modified in new and interesting ways that helped ensure its long-term popularity that exists to this day.
In other words, wicker in Europe (and especially in the Victorian Age) went through many of its major formations during the history you’re about to read.
The Victorian Age in England was just one age among many throughout its history; it’s easy to forget the Norman, the Elizabethan, the Caroline and the Georgian Ages, for example.
The Victorian Age is of special relevance to Americans because of its close historical proximity, but the truth is that wicker survived to the Victorian Age thanks to its history in pre-Victorian Europe.
WICKER ENCOUNTERED A REVIVAL DURING THE RENAISSANCE AND POST-RENAISSANCE YEARS
Wicker, of course, survived the fall of Rome (which many experts place around 476 A.D.). Marco Polo (and other European tradesman and explorers) would play integral roles in introducing many popular European customs and cultural influences not just in China, but in the newly discovered continents west of the Atlantic Ocean.
The seemingly ever-shrinking world came to appreciate the antiques of ancient Roman culture, as well as the contribution of resources now available through global trade.
Indeed, as explorers poked and prodded around the Earth, they shortened the trips from India to England, further closing the gap between mainstream Europe and non-European cultures.
With rattan flourishing in Southeast Asia, and a renewed interest in the Roman style during an age of neo-classicism, wicker was one of the cultural imprints of antiquity that encountered a revival during the Renaissance and post-Renaissance years.
Later, when the quality of rattan’s strength as a base for wicker became increasingly common knowledge in Europe, demand for this resource would eventually go up, as would demand for the furniture fashioned from it.
Trade, however, was constantly interrupted in the pre-Victorian years due to frequent wars (including the Revolutionary War in the U.S. and the Napoleonic Wars). It wasn’t until the peaceful trade of the Victorian Age that wicker would truly begin to expand to its current status as a world-renowned furniture style.
Generally speaking, the Victorian Age coincided with the Industrial Age, the period of major changes in transportation, manufacturing and craftsmanship. It’s no wonder, then, that wicker furniture saw major changes in the Victorian Age as well.
Thanks to well-established trade routes and the European Age of Exploration, and the discovery of rattan’s particular strengths, wicker was essentially destined for a renaissance all its own during the Victorian Age.
European and American minds alike found that wicker furniture was conveniently more lightweight, less expensive, and easier to clean than the traditional upholstered furniture of the day.
WICKER FURNITURE WAS MORE LIGHTWEIGHT, LESS EXPENSIVE AND EASIER TO CLEAN THAN TRADITIONAL UPHOLSTERED FURNITURE
Wicker also was a natural match for meeting the stylistic demands of the day. While elaborate furniture designs may have only been relegated to Europe's Upper Classes in the pre-Victorian age, the Age of Manufacturing left a Middle Class that demanded something similar to its style...even if it wasn’t quite the same price as what High Society people paid.
The fact that wicker furniture is easy to paint contributed to its expanding popularity during the Victorian Age, too. Painting wicker white and other natural colors (which, maybe not so coincidentally, was also popular in Ancient Rome) was a standard practice throughout these times, contributing to the styles of wicker we’re generally familiar with today as Americans.
By the time the Victorian Age wrapped up, the world had already crossed into the 20th century. Worldwide trade had become a common practice, and wicker already had cemented itself as a common way to produce furniture throughout the Western world. Additionally, rattan as a material for wicker had grown to an immense popularity, including in the United States.
WICKER ARRIVES IN THE AMERICAS
Before moving on to wicker’s more modern history in the Americas, it may be appropriate to take a step back and ask an important question: How did wicker get here in the first place?
Indeed, wicker’s history in the Americas does predate the Victorian Age. Wicker came here with the earliest of settlers, both as a resource for furniture and as a skill, or piece of knowledge.
Because so much transportation was handled by boat, it was important to have storage bins and other furnishings that were lightweight and, when filled, did not add much to the overall load of a transatlantic journey.
Subsequently, wicker suitcases and wicker traveling trunks became very popular in the Americas. In many cases, this was simply due to the fact people traveled lightly on their way across the ocean.
It may not have been any European’s specific intention to bring over their wicker luggage to the Americas as a method of introducing it to this culture. Instead, wicker largely first arrived in the Western Hemisphere simply because it was convenient to travel with.
With the Victorian Age now on the horizon, and a presence of wicker already established in the Americas, the conditions were ripe for a wicker explosion in the United States in the 19th century.
Early Wicker in America:
With the foundations for wicker’s presence in America already laid by the earliest settlers and travelers who brought it usually as a matter of convenience because of its lightweight properties, wicker was ready to take a more prominent role in the Americas.
The major change here, of course, was the fact the colonies of British America won their independence from the crown in the late 18th century. Americans, however, still retained many of their British sensibilities.
WICKER SUITCASES BECAME VERY POPULAR IN THE AMERICAS AS PEOPLE TRAVELED LIGHTLY ON THEIR WAY ACROSS THE OCEAN
Not only would British and Americans continue to share a common language, but in many ways they would share a common culture as Victorianism. This was going to be very apparent in the way Americans would come to embrace wicker furniture throughout the 19th century.
But Americans weren’t only going to follow in the world of wicker: They were primed to take a role of prominent leadership, primarily thanks to the innovations of one key man.
In just a few short centuries, the idea of wicker in the Americas would be reshaped from European influence, into a newly minted American style. Let’s trace the history of wicker as it underwent its transformation in the United States.
Wicker in Colonial America:
Prior to the United States winning its independence from the British crown, very few citizens thought of themselves as “Americans.”
They were colonists, to be sure, but they were also
colonists, loyal to the crown of Great Britain. It certainly follows that the cultural styling of Colonial America followed this pattern – one that would continue in similar fashion, for many years to come.
To these Americans, wicker furnishings and luggage were part of the culture they brought with them from Great Britain. Not only did colonials bring their own materials when they sailed from England and Europe, but they also brought their skills. It wasn’t long before colonial Americans were producing their own wicker furnishings.
AMERICANS IN THE 20TH CENTURY WERE PRIMED TO TAKE A LEADERSHIP ROLE IN THE WORLD OF WICKER PRIMARILY THANKS TO ONE MAN
Though rattan wicker had been produced before, it certainly hadn’t reached the popularity of today, and for a long time was relegated to mostly baskets and small, storage-based items.
One of the earliest wicker artifacts known to exist in the Americas was a cradle. This layette essential was a popular wicker item in the Americas for a long time before wicker was truly explored to its Victorian and post-Victorian heights.
After the Revolutionary War, the state of wicker in America (for the most part) didn’t change for several decades. However, a transformation was on the horizon – one that would alter the destiny of wicker furniture in America as well as throughout the world.
The utilization of rattan was not uncommon in the Americas or throughout the world prior to the mid-1800s. The major problem, however, was that not many people seemed to recognize the potential of this strong-but-pliable material as a natural resource to be matched up with the wicker process.
In fact, Europeans at large didn’t seem to realize how to properly utilize rattan beyond using it as a way to hold ship cargo in place on their wooden ships. The material was considered so disposable that many sailors would simply dump it once their cargo reached harbor.
Yet it was this very same unwanted material, treated as garbage, that Amercan Cyrus Wakefield would utilize to change forever how rattan and wicker furniture was made.
Wakefield not only realized rattan was ideal for creating wicker, but also that rattan wicker furniture was an idea with a lot of potential. He took the discarded rattan and shaped it into products he made himself until his enterprise was successful enough to begin manufacturing on a large-scale basis.
HIS SAME UNWANTED MATERIAL ...WOULD BE USED BY CYRUS WAKEFIELD TO CHANGE FOREVER HOW RATTAN AND WICKER FURNITURE WAS MADE
Wakefield eventually established a factory for producing his products in South Reading, Massachusetts. Later, the town changed its name to simply “Wakefield” in recognition of the businessman's accomplishments and local influence.
Wakefield’s influence on the world of rattan and wicker can’t be understated. As other furniture-makers began to realize the possibilities of using rattan for wicker as well as for support (sometimes deferring to wood for straight-corner items) – even in furniture that people could sit on for leisure – the industry of wicker furniture in the Americas would take off...this time, for good.
WICKER LEADING INTO MODERN TIMES
In 1897, Wakefield’s company would merge with Heywood Brothers & Company, forging together two of the most prominent makers of wicker furniture at the time.
The two companies, now working as one, went on to create a highly influential wicker furniture catalog (dubbed “Classic Wicker Furniture”) that would help set the tone for wicker in the modern United States.
FURNITURE ONCE RELEGATED TO PHARAOHS, NOBELMEN AND THE UPPER CLASS WAS NOW AVAILABLE TO EVERONE
By now, wicker and rattan were not limited to being used on transportation. Instead, they were being utilized to their full potential in a full range of items, from chairs and end tables, to couches and swings. With all of these options printed in one place (the new catalog), a modern age in wicker furniture was being developed.
The catalog utilized the best assets of both businesses. One supplied the artistic designs, while the other handled much of the manufacturing as well as the logistics of the orders. With this new company providing just about everything wicker customers needed, wicker furniture was now much more readily available to a larger market. Furniture that had once been relegated to pharaohs, noblemen and the Upper Class was now available to everyone.
That is largely the state of wicker furniture in the modern world. The 20th century would see real modernization for wicker furniture. With the Industrial Revolution infusing the manufacturing base for widespread sale of wicker furniture, companies like Heywood Brothers & Wakefield Company were now able to reach a much wider base.
This sets the stage for our final chapter in wicker history: explaining the modern history of wicker furniture and why wicker furniture finds itself where it does in the 21st century.
Modern Wicker and Rattan
If you really want to understand your new wicker and rattan purchases from a historical context, we’ll have to take a look at modern wicker and rattan history, especially the decades throughout the tumultuous and ever-changing 20th century.
innovations in the Industrial Age changed how products could be produced. There was greater efficiency in manufacturing for a number of items; wicker furniture was no different. And though wicker furniture would still often be hand assembled, the growing influence of machines meant it could be more affordably produced as well.
JUST AS WICKER WAS ABOUT TO UNDERGO AN INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION, AN UNEXPECTED OBSTACLE AROSE
Moreover, a new devotion to arts and crafts would shape the destiny of wicker furniture too as it entered the modern scene.
Wicker in Early 20th Century:
After the merging of the Wakefield and Heywood Chair Manufacturing Company, wicker was poised to make its national presence known. Because the Heywood Company had developed a way for wicker to be weaved mechanically, wicker was about to undergo an industrial revolution much in the same way automobiles would arrive on the scene.
But even as these plans were set in place, an unexpected obstacle arose. The problem? Wicker began to experience a slight decline in the popularity during the early 20th century. Wicker patterns which had been popular during the Victorian Age weren't as attractive to modern sensibilities that favored a more simplistic style.
Popular wicker companies of the time (including Wakefield and Heywood) changed their wicker patterns for chairs and similar furnishings that attempted to offer the new looks customers wanted.
During this time of upheaval a competing designer, Marshal Lloyd, came up with a new innovation to further boost the popularity of wicker. His game-changing idea was to create wicker furniture made from synthetic materials. This innovation cointnues to define the development of wicker furniture throughout modern times.
Using synthetic wicker had a distinct advantage over many natural types of wicker because the synthetic materials (in many cases) were more durable, especially when exposed to weather elements like sun or rainfall.
This great innovation led to a renewed interest in wicker. Modern furniture of all types was expected to be versatile and to able to handle a number of different environments. Now that synthetic wicker furniture had joined that group, many people considered this lightweight wicker furniture to be a viable option for their homes.
And because wicker furniture looks as natural outdoors as it does indoors, this new material option added an element of versatility for those wanting to bring some of their in-home furnishings outside for picnics and similar events. This renewal of wicker’s popularity was sustained throughout the century.
Natural vs. Synthetic:
The creation of synthetic wicker gave customers another choice for their furniture in addition to natural wicker. The choice, however, revealed some advantages and disadvantages to each type of furniture materail.
Natural rattan or wicker furniture has a number of distinct advantages. In addition to being lightweight, strong and durable, it's also porous like wood. This means rattan is especially ideal for painting, coloring and even sealing. That's why it has a reputation as being a highly versatile material for making quality furniture in a number of ways. (One caution: Being porous, rattan should not be exposed to rain or intense sun.)
QUALITY SYNTHETIC WICKER IS BETTER SUITED TO THE ENVIRONMENT THAN NATURAL WICKER AS IT WICKS WATER AND MOISTURE AWAY EASILY
Synthetic wicker – also known as “all-weather wicker” – typically is made from an artificial material known as “resin," and often is made of plastic. There are many types of this man-made substance out there; one of the better-quality synthetics is HDPE (high density polyethylene).
Good synthetic wicker is dyed/colored all the way through; has a nice, thick wall to each strand; and gives a nice, soft feel when touched. If you lean back against it you'll experinence some "give" (not rigidity), which makes the furniture more comfortable. The less-expensive synthetic wicker often is loaded with plastic. It has a firmer, less comfortable feel; may dry and crack easily; and generally has a shorter life.
Quality synthetic wicker is better suited to the environment than any natural option, considering it wicks water and moisture away easily; doesn’t rot when left out too long; and is highly resistant to sun damage. For owners who want to leave their furniture outside, these are all excellent features. That's why synthetic wickers are often preferred for the outdoors, while natural rattan furniture is chosen primarily for indoor use.
To read more about synthetics vs. wicker, please
PRESENT-DAY WICKER AND RATTAN
Once only enjoyed by those with the highest social status, wicker and rattan is now available to just about anyone who is in the market for new furniture made of natural or synthetic materials.
Visit any serious wicker outlet today, and you'll see the results of thousands of years of history and innovation. Offered for sale will be a variety of wicker rattan furnishings, ranging from end tables, couches, beds and mirrors, to chairs, desks and filing cabinets.
Hopefully, after reading this brief history, you'll continue your education to find the perfect wicker and rattan furnishings to make your house a home.
Villagers in Vietnam making baskets to sell.
"Mariner" five-piece natural rattan
wicker furniture set;
swivel glider conservation set;
Oceanview natural rattan
Capri" five-piece round
dining set with cushions.
WE FOUND LIGHTING EVOKING THE LOOK OF BEAUTIFUL OCEANIC
AND SOOTHING BLUE
PERFECT FOR ANY ROOM OF YOUR HOME
Bubble Cascade Glass Lamp
~ Possini Euro Design (Target.com).
Crafted of Clear bubble glass (Black shade) or Blue bubble glass (White shade), this striking table lamp was made to impress! Uses one 100-watt bulb
Bubbles Chandelier (L to R)
~ Regina Andrews (
). Multiple bubbles enclose one halogen light. Glass: Green or Clear. Metal: Brushed Nickel or Natural Brass. 27.5" W x 27" H x 27.5" L
Glass-Encased Bubble Droplet Flushmount Light
~ Matteo Lighting (
. Contemporary / modern chrome 6-light indoor ceiling light with glass shade. Halogen. 9.75" H x 16" W x 16 D
Roselyn 20" Table Lamp
. Gold base and iridese white, clear bubble base. Max. 40 watt bulb. 20'' H x 11'' W x 11'' D
Glass Twist Crystal Lamp
(L to R)
. Looks like a spiraling ocean wave in motion! Luminous blue-twist glass body rests on crystal base; off-white linen shade. 60 watt max. 26" H x 14.5" W
WP-2 Bubble Panel Lamp
Light Energy Studio
). Streams of illuminated bubbles rise effortlessly through water-filled chambers via a quiet air pump hidden within the base. Many bubble designs available from seller.
Cordell 20" Table Lamp (L to R)
Bubble glass lamp with mesmerizing blues, greens and purples that change with viewing angle. 60-watt bulb. (Editor of Tropics Lifestyle owns two; placed in tropical-themed rooms.) 19.5'' H x 10'' W x 10'' D
Blue Ocean Glass Table Lamp, set of 2
Looks like frothing ocean waves are gently rolling inside the glass! 14" W x 14" D x 28" H
Ocean Table Lamp
Brings turquoise-green waves to any room. Custom order. 31" H printed canvas encased in clear acrylic. Man-made linen shade. 3 way, 150 watt max; type A bulb.
Coastal Chic Bubbles Table (L to R)
~ Regina Andrew
(Saks Fifth Avenue)
Clear glass bubbles adorn polished nickel rod base. Crystal pedestal. Steel components. Aqua option. 17'' W x 31'' H x 17'' D
Staggered 5-Light Floor Lamp (L to R)
Milk glass glass bubbles wind around steel body in Antique Brass finish. Art Deco. 13" D x 60" H
Foundational Glass Table Lamp (L to R)
. Single bubble lamp in 3 options: Art Glass White, Clear, Reflective Smoke. 10" D x 17" H
Tiffany-Style 2-Light Table Lamp
Serena D'Italia (
). Shade features 120 hand-cut royal blue stained-glass pieces evoking ocean waves plus 105 cabochons. Antique bronze finished metal base. 22" H x 14" W x 14" D
Marble Base Task Lamp (L to R)
Pottery Barn Teen.
Stunning iridese bubble task light for office or side table. Adjustable height. 9 watt LED. 8" W x 6.5" D x 12.5" to 18.5" H.
Iridescent Globe Table Lamp
(L to R)
Pottery Barn Teen.
Glass globe is hand-plated with iridescent-brushed, champagne-gold finish. Nightlight inside base. Overall (with shade): 10" D x 17.5" H
Chandelier With Sea Bubbles (L to R)
A happy bouquet of see-through resin sea bubbles creates a stunning visual display. 6 LED bulbs. 20" W x 8" D
4-Ft. Faux Aquarium Bubble Tube Lamp
LED lights, color changing-bubbles and faux fish evoke wonder!
Simply fill column with water, insert fish, plug into AC outlet. Remote controlled.
Glass Bubble Island Chandelier
Shades of Light.
Handblown clear glass bubbles float with modern elegance. Chrome hardware; White fabric shade. 6x40 watt & G9 bulbs included. 17.75" H x 32" W x 11" D
Buoy Rope-Netted Sea Glass Table Lamp
~ Elegant Designs
Classic Aqua glass bubble lamp with real rope netting inexpensively brings a nautical / coastal vibe to any room.
Descriptions show approximate retail prices for each product at time of article creation. Click on seller links to view current pricing. Some products have multiple images; to view all click on white arrows found on left/right of first image.
HOW TO CHOOSE A FISHING CHARTER: THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE
FISHING CHARTERS ARE THE STUFF MEMORIES ARE MADE OF. USE THESE PRO TIPS TO BOOK THE RIGHT CHARTER AND ENJOY YOUR DREAM DAY ON THE WATER
By Albert Grain / FishingBooker.com
GETTING AWAY FROM
everyday life and doing something special as a group – there’s really nothing like it. This could be a regular event or a one-off thing.
Either way, you'll want to find the best charter that suits you: from deciding on the type of trip, to finding a captain, picking the boat, and securing that photo album experience. There’s a lot to cover, so let’s get started!
What is a fishing charter?
To put it simply, a fishing charter is a trip run by an experienced captain or guide, often with additional crew members, on a private vessel.
The main point of these charters is to introduce guests to fishing, or to take them out to a specific fishery to target certain species.
Charters can be tailored to suit novices or more experienced anglers. No matter your skill level, the aim of your trip is to hopefully learn how to cast a line, catch some fish, and enjoy your time out on the water.
The price of your charter will differ depending on where you want to go (see below for more about this) and how much time you spend aboard the vessel.
Step 1: Choose a Fishing Experience
Before you start browsing boats and contacting captains, it’s important to know what type of charter you’re looking for.
Every charter service is unique, and most specialize in a certain style of fishing. Consider the following aspects of your trip and you can narrow down your search massively.
Shared or Private
Your first choice seems pretty straightforward: Do you want the whole boat to yourself, or are you happy to share it with other anglers?
Actually, there’s a little more to it than that.
charters are great for people who know their way around a rod. Reel in dinner on the cheap and make new friends along the way!
The downside is that the crew has to move around helping everyone on the boat, so beginners can feel a little lost. You also don’t get much of a say in how or where you fish.
EVERY CHARTER SERVICE IS UNIQUE, AND MOST SPECIALIZE IN A CERTAIN STYLE OF FISHING
charters give you a completely tailored experience. Fish at your own pace and target the species that you want. If you don’t know much about fishing, the captain will teach you the basics and help you bring the fish aboard.
On top of all that, you get your own personal guide who can tell you about the area. They cost more than shared trips, but you get what you pay for.
FOUR TYPES OF TRIPS
So what’s the difference between the four different types of trips: inshore, nearshore, offshore, and deep-sea fishing?
Since your day will be
different based on where you fish – especially in the ocean – knowing the nuances of each type will improve your chances of booking the fishing charter that best meets your needs.
stay in sheltered waters near land, usually only a few miles from shore. The fish are smaller and the sea is calmer. It’s not just about sea fishing, either. Many inshore fishing trips take place in shallow bays, mangroves, or brackish rivers.
On an inshore trip, you’ll generally be able to start fishing very quickly, within minutes of departing the dock. Because of this, half-day trips are a common choice. These short trips offer plenty of fun, and are a great option for first-timers or young kids.
HALF-DAY INSHORE TRIPS ARE A GREAT OPTION FOR FIRST-TIMERS OR YOUNG KIDS
That’s not to say that pros will get bored, as many of the world’s top game fish live inshore, too.
As you move away from the coast, the fish start to get bigger – and tastier.
Trips that take place around local reefs and wrecks and involve some traveling are known as
. The exact distance you’ll be traveling from shore differs depending on where you’re fishing, but your attention will be focused on targeting delicious, easy-to-catch bottom fish.
You’ll move away from shallow, protected waters into open waters, usually between two to nine miles from shore, so the sea can be a little wavy. Beginners and older kids should be fine, though.
It’s common to try out techniques such as bottom fishing around the reefs and wrecks on these trips, although this can differ depending on where you fish – and who you’re fishing with!
Then there are the bluewaters.
take you so far out that you completely lose sight of land.
This is serious sportfishing and usually lasts the whole day. The fish are big and mean. The water can be rough. Offshore fishing is perfect for confident anglers who are looking for a challenge.
OFFSHORE FISHING IS WHERE YOU GO AFTER HUGE PELAGIC PREDATORS; full-day trips are common
Offshore fishing usually takes place in waters at least nine miles from shore, reaching depths from 50 feet to a couple of hundred feet. This is where you’ll be able to go after huge
predators; the kind of fish that give you a real workout. (Note: The word
simply describes a fish that inhabits water
the bottom or the shore of coasts, open oceans or lakes.)
Offshore fishing charters usually involve a lot more travel time than inshore or nearshore charters, which means full day trips are common, if not necessary.
deep sea fishing
, also often known as
Many offshore fishing trips can include deep sea fishing, but the main difference between the two is the depths of the waters you’ll be casting a line in.
Deep sea fishing charters usually take you to waters at least 100 feet deep, with 300+ feet being very common. You’ll also usually be fishing on a much bigger boat, with heavier tackle.
DEEP SEA CHARTERS ARE NOT FOR THE FAINT-HEARTED
As you’ll be fishing in extremely deep waters, sometimes around underwater canyons, it’s common for these types of charters to last for at least a full day. Depending on where you decide to fish, overnight trips are often the best way to make sure you get the most out of your deep sea fishing trip.
These charters aren’t for the faint-hearted – but they’re a great option if you want to potentially hook some beasts.
Food or Sport
This section ties into everything we’ve covered so far.
Take a step back and ask yourself what you really want from your trip. If you’re booking a private charter, you can adjust your day to suit your priorities, but you should still be clear on what’s more important.
Is it that one trophy fish?
A full cooler?
Or are you just in it for some fun with the family?
Happy members of a large family group hold red snapper they caught on a fishing charter
For example, if you’re set on landing a monster, your best chance is on a private charter with a deep sea specialist.
Want to make sure the little ones have fun? Pick a short inshore trip with a kid-friendly captain.
If all you’re after is something to throw in the fryer, shared reef fishing trips offer serious bang for your buck.
Step 2: Choose a Charter Service
You know what you want, so now's the time to find it!
In the online age, you no longer need to stroll the boardwalk and collect flyers. You can find out a lot about a charter on its website, social media, or
What follows are the main things you should be looking for.
More than anything, it’s the captain that makes the trip. That’s why it makes sense to “get to know” them before you book.
Find out how long they’ve been in business. If they’re new, how long have they been fishing in the area? Are they local? An experienced guide can be the difference between a good day out and the trip of a lifetime.
A good way to learn more about a captain is through his fishing reports. These are found in a public journal about what the captain has been catching, and the kinds of charters he has been running. The reports also can tell you how often a captain is out on the water, or what species and habitats he focuses on most.
HE CONTENT OF A CAPTAIN'S REVIEW REVEALS MUCH MORE THAN JUST HIS STAR RATING
Lastly, look at a captain's reviews. We don’t need to tell you how important reviews are when shopping online. The actual content of a review can reveal much more than just the captain’s star rating.
Read some recent reviews and see what makes the captain special. Flexibility and good communication before and during the trip will affect your experience just as much as the number of fish you catch.
This is the first thing that most people think about when they’re choosing a charter, and it’s definitely worth some thought.
Do you want comfort or speed? A floating home or a lean, mean fishing machine? There are a dozen types of charter boats, each with their own pros and cons. Most trips are run on
A large sportfishing boat awaits a group of friends who have booked it (and its captain) for a few hours of fishing fun.
Center consoles are fast and cheap to run. You’re quite exposed, with little if any shade. The upside is that you can move around freely as you fight fish. They often have a basic toilet inside the console.
On the other hand, sportfishing boats have proper toilets below deck. Above, there’s plenty of space in and out of the sun. They’re also more stable, making them great for
. The catch? They’re slower, more expensive, and can’t fish in shallow water.
SPORTFISHING BOATS ARE SLOWER, MORE EXPENSIVE, AND CAN'T FISH IN SHALLOW WATER
One thing that all boats have in common is a maximum capacity. This is normally four or six passengers, depending on the license and not the size. A boat may legally hold four, but be much better suited to two. Around 22 feet is a comfortable minimum for a family of four. Sportfishing boats should have space for six passengers.
Permits and Licenses
Always choose a charter that has all the right paperwork. That way, you know you’re in safe hands, with somebody who’s properly trained. It also means that you won’t run into trouble if the Coast Guard shows up.
This is a sample merchant mariner credential, also known as a captain's license. It's one of the things you should always ask about when you choose a fishing charter. Your captain should have one; if not, move on.
Every country has its own rules, though, and it can even vary by state.
In the United States, there are different licenses for fishing in state and federal waters. This is particularly important in the
Gulf of Mexico
, where federal licenses are hard to obtain. The Coast Guard is cracking down on people fishing without them, so you should make sure your charter is federally licensed if you’re going offshore.
We’re going to come out and say it: Don’t book the cheapest charter you find. It’s probably cheap for a reason.
Maybe the boat’s old or the equipment’s worn. Perhaps the captain doesn’t have insurance (which isn’t mandatory in many places).
Most commonly, there are a bunch of additional charges. Because of this, you should find out what’s included before you book.
Ask about the fuel and the bait (is live bait more expensive?). Also check if the crew will clean your catch and what refreshments are provided. You can usually find this information online. Bear in mind that the price never includes gratuities.
Speaking of prices, FishingBooker offers a Best Price Guarantee, so you never pay more than the captain’s regular rates.
Step 3: Talk to the Captain
The Internet has made things a lot easier in all walks of life, and charters are no different. Even so, it often pays to ask the captain a few questions before you commit to a trip.
This is an example of a captain's profile on FishingBooker.com. Note the button you can click to contact the captain before you choose a fishing charter with him.
You might even end up building a custom package that suits you better than their “off the peg” options.
Many charters have discounted rates for military personnel, vets, first responders and medical staff
Here are a few things worth asking:
What fish are biting?
Most fish migrate. Water conditions change week by week. Even if the fish are there, they may be closed for harvest. There’s a lot of info online, but it’s still best to ask if you’re after a certain species.
What should I bring?
Do you need bug spray? Does the boat have child-size life vests? Similarly, what
you bring? (Spray sunscreen, marking shoes, and bananas are common ones). Don’t forget cash for the tip!
What happens to the fish?
In many countries, the crew keeps some or all of the catch. On shared trips, you either keep all your fish, or it’s pooled and shared. Want to release the fish? Let the captain know ahead of time.
Do you offer discounts?
Not a captain’s favorite question, but sometimes worth asking. Many charters have discounted rates for military personnel and veterans. First responders and medical staff can save money, too.
Can I start a little later?
Captains can be flexible about when the trip starts, especially in low season. If you’re on a tight schedule or don’t like early mornings, mention it to your guide. They might be able to start later.
Do you have insurance?
As we mentioned before, insurance isn’t mandatory in a lot of places, even within the U.S. Check if they have it and what it covers. It will give you peace of mind and help you learn about the captain.
Step 4: Book THE TRIP
You’ve chosen the trip, narrowed down your options, and talked things through with the captain. Time to choose a fishing charter and book it!
We can’t tell you how booking directly works because it’s different for every outfitter. However, we can tell you how it works on
It’s pretty straightforward.
These are examples of various trip packages offered on a FishingBooker listing. The trip and price are common concerns for people who don't know how to choose a fishing charter.
How Do I Book?
The simplest way to lock in your trip is through the website's
feature. Just hit that lightning bolt and fill in your details. No waiting to hear back. No worrying about your dates being free. You’re set.
Like a captain but can’t find the trip you’re after? Drop him a message. He can suggest a custom package that suits you better.
When you book, you will be asked to pay a deposit to secure the trip. You usually pay the remaining balance to the captain when you meet him, either in cash or by credit card if that payment form is accepted. Some captains also let you pay the full balance online when you book; this can be useful if you don’t like carrying that much cash on you.
What About Cancellations?
Life’s unpredictable and sometimes things come up that mean you have to cancel. It’s a shame, but it’s not necessarily a problem.
Depending on the charter, you can cancel anywhere up to 24 hours before the trip and get your money back. Every captain has his own cancellation policy set and clearly visible/public before you book.
Sometimes, it’s the captain that has to cancel. This could be because of the weather or a problem with their boat. If that happens, we’ll reach out to find another date or charter that works for you or give you a full refund.
Safety is the captain’s Number One concern. Trust him if he cancels due to weather – even if it’s sunny on the beach.
Choosing a charter can be a daunting task, whether it's
located near you
or somewhere many states away.
This is your big day out and you want it to be perfect. Hopefully, we’ve given you the know-how to narrow your focus and decide what you want from your water adventure with the right package and the right captain. Now kick back, and enjoy an amazing fishing trip. Tight lines!
k k k k k k
NOTE: This article was originally published on the website of
, which has given
magazine permission to republish it here for our readers. All images are courtesy of FishingBooker.
FishingBooker is the world’s largest
for finding and booking
of all kinds in 108 countries, and over 2,090+ cities. Its world-class customer support (available seven days a week) ensures hassle-free, quick and fun booknig of more than
trips in some of the world's top fishing destinations. Today, over 30 percent of all professional fishing guides around the globe can be booked through FishingBooker.
About the Author
was Fishbooker's resident fish fact nerd until he swam off into the cold seas of Britain. Last we heard, he was hosting impossible pub quizzes on the various types of Mackerel.
All rights reserved; Tropics Lifestyle magazine / Palm Life Publishing.
No part of this article or publication may be shared, reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher, nor be otherwise circulated in any
form other than that in which it is published; including this condition being imposed on the purchaser of the content.