The first four stages of weaving cane panelling are done on a loom much like fabric or carpets. The looms are quite small and operated by one person monitoring the whole process. The working area is full of bobbins of cane ready to use on the machine to replace any of the numerous strands should a join break or a bobbin run out. It is noisy, but not as bad as you might expect, we could still easily hold a conversation despite the fact that three machines were working! This part of the process produces the base four way "chequerboard" weave.
The rolls of four way weave pass to another group of workers in a large bright open area. Lengths of pre-cut cane about 30" long lie in large bundles alongside each workstation. Each station has a wooden workbench with an assortment of corkscrew tools.
The corkscrew tools are amazing! In the picture you can see the assortment of different sizes used. They are fed through the four way weave diagonally with incredible speed and dexterity by the workers, on the end is a metal "eye" for the cane which is on a kind of gimbal allowing full rotation. The cane once threaded into the eye is pulled through the weave with ease. A wooden guide is clamped to the bench holding the panel in position to keep the weave square and true.
Once the weaving is finished the rolls go for quality control inspection before being packed. The whole process is very impressive, the level of skill, attention to detail and efficiency of the workers is amazing. It was a privilege to meet them all.