Category Wood

Bali 2: Déjà Vu and Reclaimed Glass

Bali 2: Déjà vu and Reclaimed Glass

Back on land we ran into a shop owner selling reclaimed polished glass. Beautiful, rich in color, quasi natural and when viewed at different angles almost kaleidoscope like… what a product! I chuckled to myself and took a quick trip down memory lane. My family was producing these 15-20 years ago and now it’s being reinvented. One never knows when or what markets will pop up and where. Of course we bought all he had. We know what our customers love.

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Spotting the Treasures

Having a business such as ours, demands quick but solid decision making. Jess and I are a team and compliment each other—we have the same agenda, different styles. Jess has a great eye, she sees things I don’t and she knows that piece will go and it does…..like lightening. She’s the queen when it comes to one of a kind finds. I have more of a practical nature, knowing quality and pricing and can bargain well.

Operating with no middleman, allows us that extra margin of investing power­­–– buying right so our clients benefit and so do we.

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Bali Wood, the Best on the Planet

There are tremendous amount of trees, literally everywhere. Whatever they are doing it is eco friendly, albeit not without challenges to expansion. The variety of wood is extensive. Perfect conditions for growing… anything can grow. The wood grains from the tropical trees are finer, the wood denser, resistant to rot and decay and are less likely to warp and bend.

The slabs are huge and we’re already sold out –Some of these slabs come 200ft tall trees, and could be 1,000 to 2,000 years old. They are felled by storms, soil erosion and other natural phenomena. These beautiful woods are the best available in the world today.

The Bali wood business is a family industry, everybody works, its a family  affair, from sales to production and has been for generations—There is no high tech machine, pressed wood or short cuts. Its pegs and dowels. The furniture is built, not “put” together, it’s top notch at a price that is more than equitable.

For my friends, those that want to know more about the different wood, check out the information provided at the end, which was found on the internet.

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Wow, the Taste of Off the Tree Coconut Water

The Balinese people we dealt with love Americans, are smart, respectful, warm, and laid back island people. They have a passion for craftsmanship and a love of beauty and genuinely appreciated the admiration we showed for their products. That’s when they took us to see the real gems in the “back room”!

We were always asked and served refreshments. Picked moments from serving, a coconut would appear with the cool, delicious coconut water inside. Ambrosia! It was not unusual to be given gifts including special ones for our two boys. What a way to do business and its part of the culture!

We are happy to introduce our customers to this market, where we guarantee they will find a treasure to enjoy. Bali, we will be back!

The only draw back and I stress the only, is, it is a 22 hour plane ride from Florida. Oh well what’s a little sacrifice!

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Quick Primer on Types of Wood

To give our readers a better description of a few of the tropical woods we encountered, we have included a brief list below. Thank you internet!

Albesia Wood

For colorfully painted folk art style carvings that do not need a lot of carved detail the carver will choose albesia wood. Albesia is a sustainably grown soft wood perfect for this type of carving as it is easy to grow in Bali’s rich organic soil. These fast growing trees are ready to harvest with in 5 years.

Suar Wood

Suar Wood or monkey pod is a type of mahogany. This wood is also sustainably grown in Indonesia. The heart of the wood is darker than the outer layer, creating an interesting two-toned grain. This wood is known for it’s tight, inter-locking fibers that are resistant to cracking, making this wood the perfect choice for larger, thicker carvings.

Teak Wood

Teak has been and continues to be highly desirable. Due to deforestation world wide it now demands a higher market price. Teak is a large, deciduous tree that occurs in mixed hardwood forests. It has small, fragrant white flowers. Teak is one of the most sustainable types of wood. It is one of the hardest, strongest and most durable of natural wood

Frangipani Wood

Frangipani, known for it’s beautiful fragrant flowers is often used by Balinese Master Carvers  for fine art carvings due to its tight fine grain.. The wood will often be chosen by the artist from trees in their own gardens, based on age and unique shape of the wood. Carvings made from Frangipani are one of a kind, as the artist will envision the form with in the wood.

Hibiscus Wood

The color is white with gray heartwood, the darker heartwood  makes for distinctive two-tone pieces. As the wood ages, the gray wood develops a greenish patina , which can create a very distinct look. This wood is usually left the natural color to be polished to a very smooth satin finish. Often the choice for Master Balinese Carvers to sculpt unique one of a kind and detailed fine art carvings.

Crocodile Wood

Crocodile or Satin, a hard wood, is it called so because of the nubby outer bark that resembles a crocodile skin. Inside reveals a creamy white colored wood, which looks like ivory when it is waxed and polished. Balinese artist will use this wood for carvings that are more detailed and higher in quality.

Sri Lanka 2: The Craft of Tranquil

Sri Lanka

The Craft of Tranquil

I have always loved hand carving, the tradition passed down from generation to generation. It was particularly special to witness fathers teaching their sons the trade of carving gorgeous woods. Master carvers accompanied by their apprentices were in every village we visited. Here, in Sri Lanka, they take their time and produce wonders for the eye and for touch. They are truly masters of their trade. They frequently carve what they see, like elephants and designs from nature. Statues of a tranquil Buddha or scenes of fisherman and wildlife are also recurring themes. This is all by hand, no power tools––the detail is miraculous.

Carver’s Art

In several cases we saw woodworkers carving large blocks of mahogany, indigenous to Sri Lanka. This particular species mahogany grows no place else on the planet. One block was a series of elephants and foliage. The artisan was into it already for 4 days and he had a long way to go— meticulous work–– fascinating to observe… it was a work of art.

Tuk tuk Anyone

Jessica, my wife, and I love traveling and meeting people.

We met a man we connected with immediately, he’s a tuk tuk driver––called a tuk tuk because of the sound the vehicle makes. His motorized vehicle is a tiny, covered 3 wheeler, which is kind of like a taxi over here. It’s the easiest way to get around. They’ll take you to the jewelry store, craft stores, restaurants, anywhere. If you buy, they get a commission. It’s a way of doing business and helps get everyone involved. We clicked right away. He enjoyed fishing and so do I.

Win Win

There is a joy in what we do, but, it is dedicated work. Our prime objective is finding amazing things that our customers want, at prices that are affordable. We really do go that extra mile (no pun intended), discovering items that can’t be found anywhere else. Every piece we buy, we enjoy. We buy them because they are neat, cool, and always come with a story…a slice of history. There’s no third party in what we do.

We go off the beaten track. We go direct. We do all the planning, preparation for shipping, paperwork, and fumigation of containers….the whole enchilada.

 

Sri Lanka 3: The Prize

Sri Lanka

The Prize

In addition to the hand carved items we found, we brought back astoundingly beautiful wooden slabs. These came from giant trees, which were naturally fallen. Nature toppled them, not the chain saw. These trees when sliced were found to be up to 8,000 to 10,000 years old. Astounding isn’t it? The wood grain is resplendent––simply exquisite.

We’re making some extraordinary tables—4’ wide and almost 20’ long. Sri Lanka wood craftsmen are busy making coffee tables, side tables, conference, and dining tables for us. The tables made out of the wood we find, is a story unto itself.

Sri Lanka is host to many tropical hardwoods seen nowhere else and quite unheard of in most instances. Take Black Mara, for example. It is a scarce and highly prized tree found at the edge of forests and takes on a golden luster when polished.

 

Then there is Spalted Tamarind; a beautiful exotic wood often found lying on the forest floor. The rotting effect on Tamarind creates the spalted look that varies from piece to piece.

I had no idea what “spalted’ meant, so thought I would include its definition, compliments of Mr. Webster.

Spalted ; adjective–– (of wood) containing blackish irregular lines as a result of fungal decay, and sometimes used to produce a decorative surface The lines also can be pink to gray and even a variety of colors in the same piece of wood.

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Fresh and Delish

Our travels took us through lush verdant jungles with scents of vanilla and cinnamon. Aroush took a side road as we were traveling. Excitedly, he shouted over the noise of the jeep, that he wanted to show us something.

Soon, we found ourselves in a dense jungle, with cobra holes all over the ground. In front of us was a scene too magical to be real. A stand of tropical fruit trees, too many to count, all laden with ripe, lush fruit– an abundance of delectable mangoes, guava, coconut, passion fruit, sapodilla. Sapodilla is a flavorful fruit that tastes like a pear with brown sugar. There were so many others I had never heard of. We stuffed ourselves silly with the sweet juicy fruit.

Joy of Laughter

Along the rutted dirt road, near the fruit trees was a car, packed with kids, 15 or more doing the same thing we were, having an “off the tree” snack of pure deliciousness.

Jessica, who kids love, immediately made friends with all of them, or should I say Jessica and her cell phone. The kids were wildly enthusiastic, taking photos of each other under Jessica’s direction. On the way back to our seaside lodging at beautiful Kalutara, Jessica remarked more than once, how full of life and happiness these kids were.

Sri Lanka 4: Spectacular Finds

Sri Lanka

Spectacular Finds

I love the colonial architecture. Sri Lanka has it well represented by the English, Dutch, and Portuguese. The Europeans came over and influenced the whole country. The architectural monuments are spectacular and the architectural salvage– divine!

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Among our unique finds and major conversation piece is a striking earthenware tub, from 1905. I’ve never seen a freestanding model like this. The tub isn’t stamped but probably was brought over from England at the turn of the century. A wealthy European most likely brought it over, as this item, is something only the rich or super rich would have had.

The Sri Lankans are tearing down the old. We’re buying these salvage treasures (their history) and bringing them back. Our inventory is new (old) and exciting thanks to Sri Lanka: doors, paneling, windows, lattice, antiques. All one of a kind, never to be duplicated.

We hope you are as excited as we are about our Sri Lanka “finds.” In the world of architectural scavenge; these are some of the best of the best. As far as the wood slabs, they are super rare.

We value the friendships we made in Sri Lanka and the treasures they have allowed us to take with us to share with others. We carefully choose the people we will do business with to ensure we work with those we trust, respect, and those that practice a green approach to the environment.

Everybody should visit Sri Lanka to experience these gentle, artistic people who genuinely greet you with, “May you live long” (in Ayubūvan).