Last May I took a deep dive right into a tropical ecosystem and an thrilling Caribbean tradition after I helped to launch GreenWood’s Artisan EcoTour program in Puerto Rico. For years I’ve been main woodworking workshops throughout North America and round the world, together with forested nations like New Zealand, Guyana and Brazil. But the probability to mix a artistic woodworking expertise with a guided immersion in these island forests introduced a singular alternative. It nourished my very own woodworking design roots, as I do know it did for the members who joined me and my dynamic co-instructor, René Delgado.

Our kick-off of the Artisan EcoTour in Puerto Rico turned out to be extra enjoyable and provoking than any of us imagined. Outside of the store, the insights our guides offered into the wealthy, historic panorama have been fascinating. It didn’t damage that the native meals was very good and an beautiful Caribbean seashore was solely a block from our lodge!

Blue Mahoe

We performed this woodworking journey in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and María, the class 5 storms that deposited thousands and thousands of fallen timber throughout the island—most of which have been in the end chipped or relegated to compost. Catastrophes create alternatives. In the case of Puerto Rico, as René defined, “María offered the opportunity to work with woods I would not normally have—acetillo, blue mahoe, mango—woods we gathered from the streets. When we started teaching classes again, people seeing the trees and these woods opened the desire to have a relationship, real contact with the wood.”

Puerto Rico is dwelling to greater than 750 tree species and having the ability to use these thrilling, unfamiliar woods presents an unimaginable alternative. In final 12 months’s workshop, we experimented with steam bending a half-dozen dense tropical woods, not typically recognized or sought for his or her bending properties. In the course of, we found a few nice prospects, which we used to make footrest rings included in the stools that have been the focus of our workshop.

From a design perspective, I usually look to the atmosphere as a reservoir of concepts for my very own furnishings. Whether that’s tracks in the snow at dwelling in Canada, or the dramatic plumage of a fowl in New Zealand, I delight in discovering pure sources of inspiration, which I discovered in abundance in Puerto Rico as effectively.

As René put it, “Trees are an organic form, but we cut them into boards that are straight. Taking a straight form and returning it to an organic form—that’s cool for me.”

René and I might be main one other “Forests to Furniture” Artisan EcoTour journey this May in Puerto Rico. We’re engaged on new mission designs, influenced by final 12 months’s unimaginable expertise and in search of alternatives for extra steam bending, laminating and progressive craftsmanship.

At the similar time, I’m trying ahead to getting my boots on the floor once more, planting some timber and serving to all of our members join with these woods and the superb forests that produce them. As artisan woodworkers, we play a small position in international forest consumption. But, on a private stage, we are able to at all times use these assets extra effectively. And now we have a possibility to talk the essential relationships on which our craft—and our planet—rely.

I hope to see you on round two!

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