Imagine with me for a second a land where the river flows are a way of life, the rainy season is meaningful enough to dictate religion, and desert stretches farther then the eye can see even after walked in for weeks. This land grows and swells in population, those people use the vast resources that the river provides. In this river growth are stingy but resilient plants that can be pulled and rolled together in malleable ways making it possible to craft things big and small – from rope to containers for food, even roof tops. With the ever increasing availability of tools, wood and the birth of carpentry, eventually rushes were used to create seat bottoms. Rush held up kings and emperors to peasants and tyrants. As human existence grew and moved across land and sea these swamp growing rushes were found to exist in some form across the plains of Eastern Europe to the damp lands of the British Isles – continuing the growth and perfection of the use of rushes.
The craft of creating rush seats began to grow with the development of those who carried the torch of apprenticeship and linage. The rush seat bottoms were an inexpensive and easy way to create an extremely durable part of a chair, but also able to easily replace when necessarily. The natural fiber meant it also softens with time, making it more comfortable with use. The chair designs have changed from the Romans and Vikings to today, but the idea stays the same, using fibers to create a functional and stylish pieces. Movement across oceans, like to the US shores, had an influence and changed the type of rushes used to create with. The decreasing price in fabric from the industrial revolution and the availability of cotton made rush seat bottoms become small handicraft type fare. During the end of the 19th century, rush saw massive growth due to the Arts and Crafts movement; city people saw it’s rustic style as way to hearken back to at time of yore and it became a classic Americana look. This created a large rebirth creating with rush. Unfortunately a lot of the craftsmen had been lost to the two great wars in the early 20th century and thus the craft of rush seat making hit a down turn again.
Recently there has been a large resurgence in the country style, and for handmade crafts in general. Sturbridge Yankee Workshop has carried rush seats in many forms for many many years. Our famous and impeccably crafted Ladder Back Chairs and Stools have the historic rush bottoms to complement their flawless country style. Looking for a bench with a touch of country flair? The Rush Seat Bench is the perfect size for underneath a window, in a mud room or hallway, or as a way to display your favorite decorative pillows. The bench is built here in the US and constructed with great care, stained by hand, and the imported seat is added to finish off the beautiful country bench.
From the dry sands of time forgotten to your living room, when you have a piece of furniture with a rush bottom there is history behind it.