Thursday, January 21, 2010
Often, when a plant or animal is removed from its natural environment and introduced into a new one, the ecological balance is upset. Such was the case when the water hyacinth was introduced into Thailand. It quickly invaded the local canals and waterways, creating a nuisance much the same way kudzu has in the southeastern United States.
An extremely fast-growing plant, water hyacinth is an ecologically responsible alternative to wicker and rattan, as it is a raw material that can be used in its natural state and one of the few that quickly replenishes itself. Compared to wicker and rattan, water hyacinth is much softer and smoother to the touch, as well as lighter and less brittle.
The plant is what Century calls “green,” meaning it needs hardly any processing to manufacture – again, making it a more environmentally conscious material than wicker or rattan. Even the few teak parts that are used in this collection are made from wood purchased from strictly monitored “farms” that are replanted under Thailand government supervision.
The young hyacinth stems are hand-picked from the waterways and sun-dried. The finest stems are then selected and braided. The braids are then interwoven between hundreds of small reeds to become the upholstery for the hand-cut wood and rattan frames. Once these frames are “upholstered,” the pieces are sprayed with three coats of water-based flat lacquer to add stain and dirt resistance. Since Century uses absolutely no stain, dye, or varnish on the finished pieces, the natural, rich golden hue of the dried hyacinth is not compromised. The entire process can take weeks from start to finish, but the result is a beautiful and distinctive piece of hand-woven furniture.
Water hyacinth, a waterway pest, now provides furniture of heirloom quality. Whether you are choosing furniture for your bedroom, family room or sun room, Century’s Water Hyacinth will grace your home beautifully for many years.