painting/staining wicker

my wife has this coffee table with wicker in the center. after staining it, its not an evenly blend. It's like some of the wicker did not absorb the stain.
any idea's as to how to make it even all the way across?
I'm wondering if some type of oil base primer would be necessary first, and then maybe a brown paint.
she is not opposed to paint...just anything that will not make it look "splotchy".
thanks for your help!
mike
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