Wood is the Thing with Feathers
Let it be said, birdloft is a very serious place. And J Libby and A Wicks frown a lot to keep apace, peering out from below personal, hand-carved Tacoma rain clouds. Like all self-respecting workers of wood, we understand that words are extraneous and to be looked upon with suspicion. Words are devilish. Words are cloud-like. Cat-like. They drift off course, ignore, confound. Nevertheless, without them wood won’t talk. So J Libby is using his words - his words in this case, carefully and respectfully - in an attempt to speak on behalf of wood and birdloft.
Wood is more beautiful than anything else. There is no other material that can touch wood. That is the nut. Of all beautiful things, wood is the most-est. Everyone knows this. How it grounds us and lifts us. Like Emily Dickinson said, how hope is the thing with feathers. Wood is like that, too, with its whorls and gnarls and roots. It can reconnect us if we let it.
That said, I'll end here, and plan to develop this theory in more depth as time and words allow. For now, suffice it to say, there is nothing quite like salvaging gorgeous dirty old wood and bringing it back. Not letting it be lost to the landfill. Reclaiming its depth and tone and shine for everything that is now and here.
With restraint and blades, racing bits of sand and glass, the maker calibrates the depths the wood plumbs. From roughcut almost slate-chipped hide to water smooth, infinite mirror. The grain and pull of the surface defines what is observed and touched easily enough, but still remains out of reach. Sometimes the wood divulges what it wants to be. Some perfect flaw. Some twist of knots to polish until every detail is made clear. Sometimes the function of the piece, and the context - whether a bright kitchen or a more moody living room - drives the level of finish of the surface.
Always with wood, the surface is initially unknown, or only partly shown. The maker finds it. The bole is opened. The salvaged board is scraped, maybe planed. With each pass under the blades the expression of the grain shifts. The edge is live. The grain is polished into figure. Or it is matte, worn, about patina and element. It is soft, sharp. The wood flashes along its edge when you walk through the room.
What does the hand say when it touches the wood? Where does the wood take us? I like wood with the air still in it. The forest. Open fields. Wood that is still of the earth, of loam. The sun still in it, has shaped it, hardened the relief that the sawmill blade first spun free. I like this wood, too, that has already done a round or two. Is reclaimed from another place and purpose. When there is evidence of another relationship, another imagined and imaginable life. Heat, then dust. Air and rain. Forming a house. A stair. A barn door. Texture, tone and heft. Footsteps. Fasteners. Grind and wear. More rain. Still strong. Still there. Grounded and grounding. Deepening, glimmering. Flashing again with full light, once more, brief intermission of sun.
woodier still, recent press by and about birdloft
The Nice Niche | A New Vernacular
Curbed.com | Let the Hunt Begin
City Arts magazine | Wild Wood, Deep City
around back, at birdloft | How Spotted Owls Gave Us Free Range Chicken
Gig Harbor Local Living magazine | Practical Living, Local Makers