Wicker has been around for centuries, there have been eloquently crafted pieces dated as far back as Egyptian times, the Egyptians used long reeds woven into chairs and baskets. The Roman Empire took the idea of wicker from the Egyptians and used it as their own. Wicker thus traveled throughout Europe as they conquered.
The most common misconception about wicker is that is the material that makes it wicker, when in fact it is the process by which the piece is made that makes it wicker. Wicker is the process by which a fibrous material is woven into rigid usable shapes. Wicker is usually used for outdoor use as it holds up well to most of the elements.
There are many types of materials used in the fabrication of wicker, however they can be broken down into two main types natural, and synthetic wicker. Natural wicker is the wicker that has been used through centuries and is mostly composed of reeds, rattan, bamboo or any type of fibrous plant that can be woven into a useable piece.
As technology in the wicker industry advances, natural materials from which the wicker is made, have slowly become obsolete. Natural wicker tends to give way to the elements far quicker than its Polyethylene counterpart. PE wicker is made from hard Polyethylene strands that are stretched tight across usually powder coated aluminum or steel frames. The polyethylene is non-reactant to water and temperature making it great for outdoor applications. Natural wickers tend to soak up water causing them to swell and contract as weather conditions change, this causes breakage and unraveling.