If a tree falls in the forest, does anyone hear it? Woodworkers with a passion for solid hardwood are rescuing and reclaiming downed trees to create one-of-a kind handcrafted modern heirlooms do.
“We live in this amazing former forest,” says artisan/environmentalist Jessica Wickham of Wickham Solid Wood Studio. As a gifted craftsperson and professed localvore, Wickham possesses a rare combination of skills. She can look at a downed tree in the forest and see its inherent potential. From an ecological perspective, a responsibly-sourced tree becomes the perfect green building material. Wickham reclaims trees and reinvents their beauty with an earthy and sophisticated modern aesthetic. With respect for the rich grain and natural shape of trees, Wickham uses minimal processing, traditional joinery, and natural finishing techniques reminiscent of both Japanese traditions and Shaker sensibilities.
The very best things take time. Founded on “process, poetry, and patience” of designing carefully crafted solid wood furniture, Wickham begins with the premise that we have extraordinary resources “in our own backyard.” This commitment to create timeless, quality, handcrafted pieces with the least impact on the environment, makes this wood furniture the exact opposite of the glut of mass-produced furniture.
I live in the woods and my property seems like a tree mecca, but a quick understanding of how forests have suffered, illuminates the importance of protecting our forests. As a member of the Moms Clean Air Force, I’ve learned that deforestation caused by air pollution, acid rain and other environmental hazards aids in the erosion of our forests and has become a leading contributor towards the loss of biodiversity. Intact eco-systems provide an intricate web that controls floods, conserves oxygen, soil, insects and creates diverse habitats. While forests do regrow, when older forests decline, they eventually lose more carbon to the atmosphere than they absorb, thus fueling climate change.
Represented in this celebration of wood is a cycle of production that promotes less waste, a lessening of dependence on our precious natural resources, healthy finishing techniques (low or no-VOC stains, dyes), and a reverence for promoting a way of life that is local.
If there is one thing that will get us beyond the planet’s sustainability woes, it will be the eco-enlightenment that includes a lifecycle analysis of everything. With environmental awareness becoming more mainstream, and the coexistence of style and sustainability taking center stage, artisans like Jessica Wickham will light the way.
Bench photo credit: Wickham Solid Wood Studio