Bamboo Rattan Furniture
In Vietnam, handicraft (including items made from bamboo, rattan,…) is a smokeless industry, providing high-value collection. Bamboo and rattan are considered as the most traditional materials to create really nice handmade items which attract both domestic and international customers because of the positive effect on the socioeconomic issues of Vietnamese villages.
Both rattan and bamboo grow best in tropical areas. Rattan, however, is a vine-like plant, which requires support from other sources, as it cannot stand on its own. This means that rattan must be grown around other trees. Bamboo plants are much stouter and can be grown independently. Both species grow very quickly, sometimes up to six metres per year! This rapid growth makes either species an extremely attractive crop choice for farmers in developing countries, as multiple harvests can be grown per year.
The main physical difference between the two is that bamboo is hollow; rattan is not. Because bamboo is hollow, it is inflexible, as any bending would cause it to snap. Although bamboo is very hard, rattan is much more durable. When bamboo grows, it is always uniform in thickness, no matter how tall the plant becomes. Rattan becomes thicker as it grows.
Amongst many other things, bamboo and rattan are both used to create furniture. Although superficially they look similar, their physical properties determine the type of designs they can be used to create. Rattan is flexible when processed allowing it to be woven into intricate designs and patterns. Bamboo on the other hand, is rigid. As a result, bamboo furniture is often more simplistic in design as the stems must be arranged parallel to each other. Often, both are used in the same furniture, with the main body made from bamboo and bindings created using flexible rattan.
Generally, raw rattan is processed into several products to be used as materials in furniture making. The various species of rattan range from several millimetres up to 5–7 cm in diameter. From a strand of rattan, the skin is usually peeled off, to be used as rattan weaving material. The remaining “core” of the rattan can be used for various purposes in furniture making. Rattan is a very good material mainly because it is lightweight, durable, suitable for outdoor use, and—to a certain extent—flexible.
Rattans are extensively used for making furniture and baskets. When cut into sections, rattan can be used as wood to make furniture. Rattan accepts paints and stains like many other kinds of wood, so it is available in many colours, and it can be worked into many styles. Moreover, the inner core can be separated and worked into wicker.
Handicraft and arts
Many of the properties of rattan that make it suitable for furniture also make it a popular choice for handicraft and art pieces. Uses include rattan baskets, plant containers and other decorative works.