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Minnesota State University, Mankato
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Retiree's second life: Renowned chair caner

Wayne Sharp

Retired prof, IT staff member Wayne Sharp leads elite national guild of chair-caners.

By Brian Ojanpa, Free Press Staff Writer [published in The Free Press, Mankato, MN, 8/25/2011]

On any given day Wayne Sharp hunkers down in his three-season porch, opens a window to hear birds chirping and toils away at the age-old, arcane craft of chair caning.

It’s very much a niche hobby, the retired Minnesota State Mankato professor said, and many who delve into the labor-intensive pursuit don’t last long at it.

“People say, ‘I’ve done one chair and I won’t do any more.’ ”

Sharp recently was elected president of the national SeatWeavers Guild. He said it’s a 67-member group that, if not for the like-interest capabilities of the Internet, probably wouldn’t exist.

Sharp’s father-in-law got him interested in chair-seat weaving more than 30 years ago, and Sharp became enamored with the becalming yet challenging craft that employs materials as disparate as seagrass, rawhide, strips of hickory and oak, even corn shucks.

For the complete story, see Aug. 25, 2011, print edition, or sign on to the e-edition at

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