David Ammons remembers spending hours observing his grandfather’s traditional chair caning work. He writes, “I watched in awe, as a child, as he wove his magic after carefully framing the chair piece by piece.” Though Ammons did not learn how to “bottom” a chair, as his grandfather called it, until much later in life, he did absorb many of his grandfather’s methods in those early childhood experiences.
“All of this came back to me in 1975,” he writes, “when I sat looking at one of Grandpa’s chairs. I told my wife, Sherilyn, that I thought I could recreate Grandpa’s movements that I remembered so well. I got an old chair frame and some split oak splints and the rest is history.
“Caning comes in many disguises, but all of it is weaving. I watched Grandpa do only the herringbone weave from white oak splints. However, there are many forms of weaving…wicker, rush, splint, shaker tape, rawhide, Danish cord, binder cane, and the 7-step method [of] hand caning.”
Ammons has become an expert caner in many different methods over the course of the last thirty-plus years. He now demonstrates at such events as WCU’s Mountain Heritage Day, Bryson City’s Great Smoky Mountains Railfest, Jackson County’s Appalachian Arts and Crafts Bazaar, and Sylva’s Greening Up the Mountains festival. In addition to demonstrating and teaching, he will be happy to weave a new bottom for your favorite chair.
David Ammons is available for craft demonstrations at festivals and in a workshop setting. He also does custom caning work. If you have a chair that needs to be re-bottomed, contact him for an estimate.