But... I've found it is do-able. It's not the easiest thing I've ever done, but it's not impossible.
About a year ago I ended up with the set of ladder back chairs that my folks bought back in the early 60's. They are good strong chairs, but very dirty and the rush seats were in rough shape... some not even usable. I couldn't keep them all just for sentimental reasons... six ladder back chairs is kind of a LARGE momento... but I couldn't just give them to Goodwill either.
So after pondering for a while I decided it was either redo the chairs and use them or let Goodwill have them. I don't keep things, especially big things, that we don't use. Part of my personal philosophy is not collecting things... not having more than we need and can use. Living sparely...
I started by removing the worn out rush and cleaning the chairs. Unfortunately the dirt was so old and so thick that cleaning off the dirt cleaned off the finish as well.
(this chair is half cleaned, the right side of the ladder back is still dirty, the left side is clean but missing parts of it's finish)
Hmm... what do to?
Then I found a library book that showed how to weave rush seats and virtually memorized the eight pages of instructions...
...and ordered what seemed like an impossible amount of fiber rush.
Here's what the seat weaving process looks like. It's actually pretty cool, I think, to watch the seat come together.
It doesn't take much in the way of tools...
Since the chair seats aren't exactly square, the first thing I do is square them up with short pieces of weaving on the sides of the front.
Then I start weaving around the whole seat, tying new pieces of rush to the rush I'm working with as it starts to get too short.
After getting the rush tangled a few times I learned to keep it carefully wrapped up and held with a wire tie or rubber band at all times... so this doesn't happen.
As the weaving progress, I add triangular shaped pieces of cardboard into the pockets created by the weave. They are supposed to give the seat extra form and cushioning.
Here's one of the almost finished chairs... it still needs a coat or two of "stuff" before it's used. (I can't think of a good word for the stuff it needs... it's not a stain, but more a water/stain proofing mixture of polyurethane, linseed oil, and something else I'm forgetting right now.)
There are six chair in the set and I'm about half done. I can't wait to have them all done and start using them. (I'll have a bunch of pressed back chairs to get rid of then... anyone interested? ;) )