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Entries in wood (13)


one of a finds: birds on a wire

Reclaimed Douglas fir planks, harvested from old abandoned buildings in Southern California, find their way home in wood “prints” inked with abstract birds silhouetted high on cable wires by artist Parvez Taj.

Documenting the history of each building and the source of each timber, he selects planks which are then hand-assembled and printed with eco-friendly, UV-cured inks.

Weathered and distressed, each birds on a wire print is evidence of the concept of beauty as rendered by the elements of nature over time. In his waste-to-energy initiative, Taj’s mission is to create art with minimal impact on the environment.

Why birds? In the artist’s words, “Birds have the ultimate freedom.”

One of a Finds original works are offered one time only as a limited edition for collectors and enthusiasts—birds on a wire has a fall 2011 release of 200.


one of a finds: wood tops

Since a picture speaks a thousand words in any language, the following tell the back story of how we got from there to here—the making of a set of five wood tops.

The Indian Railways, or IR, is one of the largest networks in the world. Its nearly 1.6 million employees transport 20 million passengers over almost 40,000 miles of tracks through nearly 7,000 stations—everyday.

Railroad ties, or “sleepers”, are approximately 40-50 years old and are being replaced with newer concrete versions. Once the ties are collected, the outer surface is milled to get to the core sal wood.

Traditionally used to play the Indian street game bambaram, five distinct top forms are lathed to create the appearance of the classic toys. With naturally occurring wood checks and markings, each of these decorative objects literally has its own unique spin. Measuring 4-6” long, they come wrapped in muslin and packed in a galvanized metal box.

One of a Finds original works are offered one time only as a limited edition for collectors and enthusiasts—the sal wood tops have a fall 2011 release of 744 boxed sets.

Note: this one of a find will be available early September.


one of a finds: the lewis table

How does a one-man woodworking shop get from 1300 board feet of raw American black walnut…to a lewis table?

Chicago-based woodworker Jason Lewis starts at the beginning and intentionally chooses timbers for their knots and imperfections, allowing the wood’s natural beauty to create visual interest with no two tables alike.

Referencing historical Windsor chairs, and with a nod to the heritage of fine woodworking and hand-craftsmanship, splayed legs are each precisely joined with round tenons blocked with a fine hardwood wedge and finished flush in unison with the top.

One of a Finds original works are offered one time only as a limited edition for collectors and enthusiasts—the lewis table has a fall 2011 release of 200.

Note: this one of a find will be available early September.


material world: eucalyptus

Eucalyptus is a diverse type of flowering tree within the myrtle family. There are over 700 species, most of which are native to Australia, and only about 9 can’t be found there.

Eucalyptus are favored as a fast-growing sustainable resource, similar to bamboo, and all of the tree—it’s wood, leaves, flowers—are broadly by: Umesh Behari Mathur

First, the flower blossoms provide nectar for insects, birds, bats, etc. and essential oils from its leaves contain natural disinfectants so it’s used in cleaning products, deodorants, toothpaste, decongestants and cough/cold medicines.

Its also a key food source for some koala and possum who are tolerant of those chemicals which can be toxic in large by: puuikibeach

On both a positive and negative note, eucalyptus trees require lots of water.

In swamp-like areas, planting them can reduce soil erosion and malaria bearing mosquitoes—ironic considering its inherent insect repellent properties—but in normal to dry or non-indigenous areas, they can prohibit other plants and native plants from thriving.

Such is the case in California where eucalyptus trees were introduced in the mid 1800s with the hopes that their fast growth would offer a vast supply of railroad ties as miles of new tracks were laid during the Gold Rush.

Unfortunately, wood from younger trees warped dramatically and wood from older trees was so dense that nails couldn’t easily secure them in place—both characteristics sealed its fate.

Although its favored as a windbreak and for curbing erosion, it’s disliked for its role in feeding forest fires (read on) and regenerating from mere trunks, so currently measures are being taken to reduce its population there.

Types of eucalyptus plants and trees have been carbon dated to tens of millions of years ago—around the time charcoal deposits have been dated as well—which is interesting since they share a common trait.

As a living plant, and at high temperatures, eucalyptus oil can be emitted as a vapor—which creates the characteristic blue haze of Australia’s landscape, shown above—but it can also be highly flammable, like charcoal.

But the wood becomes more dense—and therefore stronger, much like teak—so it’s also prized for its durability outdoors while those same natural oils help protect it from the elements.

Like most woods, eucalyptus weathers to a soft silvery grey but tung oil can be applied periodically to help preserve its original patina.


one of a finds: chop chop table

Using wood that’s harvested within the Chicago metro area—due to the effects of nature such as age, wind or storm damage—chop chop not only reduces the demand on our nation’s forests, they’re fabricated locally thereby minimizing the carbon footprint between the source, mill and production.

Designer Paul Pettigrew, Studio Associate Professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology College of Architecture, pursued this project in response to a surplus of felled ash trees in our urban forests.

Collaborating with Horigan Urban Forest Products, each piece is stripped of its bark and squared into rectangular logs. Then they’re kiln-dried, sanded, oiled, and protective feet are added.

The natural variations in grain, dimension and color of trees that define the urban forest mean each table is unique. Kiln-dried to reduce moisture content, wood checks (ie. splits or cracks) may appear as the wood acclimates to its environment—expands and/or contracts—but they enhance each table’s special character without affecting its structural integrity.

Congratulations to Horigan Products’ co-founders Erika and Bruce Horigan, who’ve been recognized by the Illinois Arborist Association for advancing the cause of wood recycling and by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the Illinois Waste Management and Research Center for significant achievements in protecting the environment.

harvesting a damaged treecut logs ready for milling
raw tables drying in a kiln