I was asked not too long ago if I could use some old wood that a family already had to make something for them. My immediate response was "absolutely", but the question made me think I should tell a short story to illustrate the point that I actually prefer working with materials that have a deeper meaning.
Working with reclaimed wood, recycled materials, salvaged wood or salvaged materials means that we get to bring new life to something that was otherwise considered worthless, but taking something that - even when in a deteriorated state - means something to someone and turning it into a functional piece of artwork is so much more rewarding.
When I was getting things started at the beginning of this year, I knew I needed to have a logo created, so I reached out to a friend, Matt Hoffman of Fieldhouse Collective, to see if he could help me out. As a scrappy founder, I had to barter a bit, and as another scrappy businessman, Matt was comfortable doing the same. In exchange for my logo, I built a dining table for Matt and his family with wood salvaged from an old barn that was on his family's property when he was a kid. He and his wife Lanna had been keeping it on their porch for years so when I picked it up one evening it was a bit of an ordeal.
Matt and I talked often during the time when he was creating our logo. As a creative mind myself, and given the close personal connection I feel to the inspiration for it, AND the fact that I provided some of the input to the materials (personal journal entries from my Papa's handwritten diaries) I was very engaged in the creation of the logo. We went through more rounds of feedback than Matt was probably envisioning when we agreed to the exchange, but the result was absolutely perfect! It was more than I could have ever imagined!
Similarly, when it was time to start creating the table, I sent regular updates and asked for a lot of feedback from Matt and Lanna along the way. What exact size did they want, what kind of legs did they think would be best, how curved did they want the corners, what kind of finish were they expecting? I asked all of these questions and more because I wanted it to be just right! It resulted in an end product that I was more nervous to deliver than I may have ever been. I knew the table meant a lot to them and that made it mean a lot to me, so when I pulled up to their house last week I was really excited to get their reactions.
The beautiful character of the wood really came to life when I applied the finish and it made for an amazing unveiling, I think. The table fit beautifully in their home and I know it will be a great centerpiece for their family to build new memories around for years to come.
So, if you have a pile of old wood, an piece of old furniture that you want restored, or a thing that you think would look good when paired with reclaimed wood, please let us know. Building is our passion and when we can create something that has more meaning because of the story in its materials, it gets us really excited. Like, butterflies in the stomach excited!