Discovering Rattan

Mark Catalini
September 4-8

Rattan is a natural palm fiber long used for furniture making. This course provides a strong technical foundation for participants who want to employ it creatively in contemporary work, although it is also useful for anyone who wants to repair existing rattan pieces. Starting with a bare frame that we provide, students work with round reed, flat-oval reed, half-round reed, and wood to create their own versions of a small table that Mark has designed to convey a variety of weaves and methods of attachment. Work is done primarily with hand tools such as hammers and nails, drills, pliers, utility knives, and chisels. If time allows, the table may be followed by the start of an independent project.

Technical instruction begins with the selection and soaking of reed and concludes with singeing reed with a propane torch to remove raised fibers, sanding, and finishing. In between, students learn structural applications such as reinforcing joints with flat-oval reed and how to lay out, cut, bend, taper, and install diagonal support braces. Mark introduces a variety of decorative and structural weaves, ways of creating patterns with spokes, wrapping techniques, and much, much more.

Mark Catalini earned a B.A. in Industrial Arts from Fitchburg State College in 1975 and an M.A. in Art Education from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1983. For the next 13 years he taught high school woodworking, cabinetmaking, and furniture design, eventually transitioning into self-employment as an antique dealer and restorer specializing in wicker furniture. Based in Pepperell, MA, Mark currently designs and builds furniture in the Arts and Crafts, Art Deco, and Mid-century Modern styles. His work has been featured in The New York Times and Architectural Digest. A former Studio Fellow at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship, Mark’s original pieces are available through Leslie Curtis Designs in Camden, ME.


Open to all.

Tuition: $770

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Catalini Table FullOccasional table designed and built by Mark Catalini as the class project, wood and natural rattan reed in round, half-round, and flat oval shapes (16”x14”x22”), 2016

 Catalini table detail 1Detail of project