What is The Rattan Material Used in Home Decor Products?

Rattan Chairs

There can be a lot of confusion between what is the difference between rattan or bamboo. Though people may use the words interchangeably they are very different kinds of natural materials.

Rattan is best described as a climbing palm that will scramble through a forest and grow over all kinds of vegetation. Rattan is known to be a very good material to use for home decor furniture and accessories as it is natural, strong but can also take a variety of stains and paints. There are many steps that must be taken to properly process rattan. Vietnam has a long history of rattan and bamboo production.

Rattan Chairs
Rattan Chairs Being Manufactured in Vietnam

What Is Rattan?

Rattan is the name of over 600 species of a climbing palm. It was also known as manila or malacca which is named after the shipment ports of Manila and Malacca, But today most people just refer to it simply as rattan or rattan cane.

It is a kind of woody climbing stem but is not a true wood. The rattan grow and scramble through a forest and grow over all kinds of vegetation.

Though rattan is similar to bamboo, it is not the same as bamboo and the two natural materials will grow very differently. One of the best ways to describe rattan is that it is a vine that curves, winds and grows over other vegetation, whereas bamboo grows straight up. To find out more about Bamboo you can read our blog entitled Bamboo – An Auspicious Plant For Your Home by clicking here.

Rattan will have slender stems which are for 2 to 5 cm in size and long internodes between the leaves. But bamboo, on the other hand, is hollow inside it and will grow relatively straight. Bamboo can also grow to some large diameters but is also very strong and hard to bend.

Rattan, on the other hand, is a solid material and will bend and curve as it grows. It can grow to be quite long but is limited in its overall size or diameter. Some rattan has been known to grow over 100 Meters or 328 Feet long.

Rattan Chair
Rattan Chair Being Manufactured in Vietnam

Why Use Rattan?

Rattan is known to be a very good material for making baskets, furniture. trays and even mats. The reason is that the natural rattan material will accept paints and stains like many other kinds of natural woods. This means it is very versatile.

The inner core of the rattan is also split and can be used to weave wicker home decor products. This is where it can get confusing as many people see wicker as a kind of material but wicker is really a weave. You can read more about this by reading our blog Hand-weaving Faux Rattan In Vietnam, What You Need to Know by clicking here.

Processing Rattan Furniture and Accessories

There are quite a few steps that must take place to properly process the rattan and make rattan furniture and home decor accessories.

Cutting Rattan

First, the rattan must be found and cut in the forests. Once it is cut it must be sorted. Normally once the cane is cut it may be left in the forest for a week or so with the bunches of rattan placed in bundles by approximate sizes up to 20 to 30 cane pieces in a bundle. These bundles will be kept in an erect position and placed against some trees. This allows for the sap and water to drain off the cut rattan pieces.

Preparing Rattan

The rattan must be prepared so that it can be used. The major steps for this include:

  • Drying the Rattan Cane – Rattan must be properly dried and the moisture content checked to ensure the highest quality possible rattan. The rattan poles may also be spread out on the open ground to dry in the sun. The main purpose of this process is to get the moisture out of the rattan cane and the water out off the rattan. Also during the drying process, the rattan cane, when still wet. can be pulled and straightened.
  • Curing the Rattan Cane – The rattan cane will then be immersed in hot oil to prevent deterioration and to also to further reduce the moisture content. The stems of the rattan may also be cut at this stage.
  • Deglazing – Some rattans species may have a lot of crusts or other things on the surface so they may need to be deglazed or have the out part completely taken off.

Here is a video to show how Rattan Furniture parts are shaped and bent with fire. Click on the link below to view the video.

Shaping Rattan Furniture and Other ...
Shaping Rattan Furniture and Other Parts

Manufacturing Rattan Products

Once the rattan has been properly prepared then it is usually sold to another manufacturer who will then process the raw rattan materials into the actual home decor accessories and home furniture products. Here are the basic steps that must take place during the manufacture of home decor and home furniture products.

  • Prepare for Bending – The rattan is usually prepared for bending two different ways – one is with boiling the rattan and another is with fire. Both of these methods allow the rattan to be able to bend.
  • Bending Into Shape – Once the rattan has been prepared for bending then it can be bent into various shapes. With the actual manufacturing of the rattan home decor furniture and accessory products, small nails are used. The rattan is also wrapped with leather or rattan stripes to hold the rattan in place
  • Finishing – Once the rattan is completely finished then it can be stained or painted.

Rattan Production in Vietnam

Vietnam is a country that has traditionally always had a lot of rattan and bamboo materials and production. Most Vietnamese have grown up with rattan furniture in their home. There is even a traditional style rattan chair that the famous Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh was said to have used. This chair now called the Ho Chi Minh chair.

Ho Chi MInh
Ho Chi Minh On Some Rattan Chairs (In Public Domain, saved from VTV Vietnam)

Today you can go up to the mountain regions of Vietnam and find many of the hill tribes still weaving their own backpacks, baskets and other items to be used daily. Many hill tribe children may still walk to school with their woven backpacks.

Vietnam has over 700 handicraft villages that produce bamboo and rattan which are scattered all over the countryside. Some of these bamboo and rattan handicraft villages are very small and others have some larger-scale production. Most of these households have been weaving and producing rattan and bamboo products for hundreds of years.

Developing Home Decor Products in Rattan

There are many home decor products that can be manufactured with rattan. Here are some of our suggestions:

  • Furniture – Rattan has long been a staple for all kinds of furniture production. This is because it is strong yet able to be bent into the shape you require.
  • Baskets – Certainly one of the top ways it can be used in home decor production is through basket production. A lot of rattan material is used in home decor for baskets production.
  • Mirrors and Wall Art – Rattan can be bent to be used for mirrors and wall art. This is a great way to give a nice natural look to your wall decor.
  • Lamp and Lighting  – Rattan can also be used for a variety of lampshades and lighting products
  • Trays, Boxes, and other home decor accessories – Rattan can be used for a variety of home decor accessories as trays, boxes and other kinds of accessories.

As natural products continue to be a very important trend, there is no doubt that rattan and all kinds of rattan products will play a central role for the development and manufacturing of home decor products. This is because rattan is a great versatile natural material.

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Anita Hummel

Hi, I am Anita Hummel. I am the President of Mondoro. I am passionate about helping you CREATE, DEVELOP, and MANUFACTURE home decor and home furnishing products. I am also an avid blogger with a love of travel and riding my motorcycle around the streets of Hanoi, Vietnam.

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