Uniquely WNC: "Chair nerds" pass on tradition and craft with unique education center

By Meghan Danahey

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    ASHEVILLE, North Carolina (WLOS) -- Silver River Center for Chair Caning in the River Arts District is home to the only dedicated full-time chair weaving school and museum in the country.

Co-owners Brandy Clements and Dave Klingler call themselves "chair nerds," having collected over 300 chairs. Brandy says, "all of them have their own unique history and characteristics that just make it really fun and endlessly fascinating."

She continues, "We were busy from day one! On our grand opening we got in 12 chairs, and it just continued on ever since. Over time our wait list went from three months to six months to eight months and we're just too busy. And we're starting to get overuse injuries. We really thought there needed to be more chair weavers out there, so we made a school!"

Brandy is a fourth generation chair weaver. She learned from her aunt Linda and passed along her passion to Dave. They love teaching other "chair nerds" how to weave and create new designs. Plus, Brandy says, "it's so much more exciting to be like, 'I fixed this chair instead of I paid $300 to have this chair fixed!'"

Dave is an engineer at heart and loves to create new tools to assist in the chair-weaving process. He says, "all these students that are learning help us refine or methods. Not only do we have to do it, but we also have to explain it to people who learn in different ways." Dave is also passionate about the wood-working and chair-making process.

During the pandemic, Brandy and Dave pivoted to producing videos for a YouTube channel. They are also working on a book together, along with Blue Hills Press out of Nashville, Tennessee. It is scheduled to come out in 2023.

Silver River Center for Chair Caning is an official education center of the Southern Highland Craft Guild. They are also proud part of the River Arts District Artists' community and are members of the Seat Weaver Guild, which is a national organization of seat weavers.

Brandy says, "there are chair weavers on six continents that we're in regular contact with which is really cool! People in Sweden and Austria, Australia; we're all a pretty tight knit group and we communicate regularly on social media."

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