“How would you describe Pioneer Millworks and the beauty of our products to a blind person?” Our Japanese partners asked us this very question. After posing it to members of our team we asked them to reply anonymously. We are continually impressed with the thoughtfulness and creativity of our team and wanted to share with you:
(The images in this post are from our Twitter “Texture Tuesday” collection. We’re inspired by the character, colors, and macro views of wood we find in our mill, yard, and offices. We hope you enjoy them as well!)
“The wild of nature, brought in from the outdoors. Each piece has its own story to tell, its own scars and wrinkles from a long life before us. As a whole, it’s a complex mix of swirls and patterns, tones and textures that are as intoxicating to your senses as a bite of cold vanilla ice-cream and warm caramel syrup.”
“What a tough and interesting question. It would change the answer if the blind person had had sight and lost it, versus having always been blind. If they’d had sight, we could assume they’d understand and remember things such as colors, or wood grain, or the width and lengths of wood and how they connect. I went with the assumption that they’d never had sight:
Pioneer Millworks has reclaimed over 26 million board feet of wood across the country from industrial and agricultural structures that are no longer in use and have often fallen into disrepair. The wood we reclaim is destined for landfills, burners, or to simply rot away. Part of the beauty of using Pioneer Millworks’ products is knowing you’re helping recycle and reuse; you have a hand in keeping our planet healthy.
There is beauty in the story each plank, joist, or timber holds. Some could tell of thousands of footfalls from young men earning a living building tractors, others could tell of women striding and sitting while operating embroidery machinery, others know the skill of artisans creating ornate tiles with heavy clay and bright glazes, while still others could speak to years of abundant harvest, of severe drought, of blistering summers, freezing winters, soft spring rains, and the gentle sounds of livestock settling as nights slid over the farm more than a hundred years ago. In our Oregon and New York mills each plank is studied and honored by our craftsmen as they trim, plane, mould, sand, and fulfill orders.
Character is beauty. The character of our antique wood hints to the stories of its past, of man and nature: tight grain patterns, deep patinas, original saw marks, ferrous staining with occasional nail holes, weathered surfaces, remnants of paint. Random length boards abut one another creating a harmonious mosaic on walls and floors. Beneath the bare foot a reclaimed wood floor is solid, cool, and smooth with a soft luster from our preferred natural oil/wax finish. To touch the surface offers interest of varying textures. From subtle grain ridges, flat knots, and softly curving marks where an old saw blade struck the log into planks, to deeply grooved, weather worn fascias.”
“Pioneer Millworks is a is a company of designers and craftspeople who work every day to provide wood flooring, paneling, timbers, and millwork, using wood salvaged from barns, warehouses, factories, shipping containers and more. The products we craft from these 20 or more species of reclaimed wood are a mosaic of color and texture and exude the warmth and natural beauty that only hundreds of years of age can provide.”
“I would talk about the texture, the combination of smooth and rough in our patina and skip planed floors. I would talk about how the scars of it’s previous life, those nail holes and insect marks, each little pin hole that interrupts the smooth surface of American Gothic, tell a story of a life of purpose and function.
I would talk about it’s durability under foot, the solid feel of the dense grain antique wood, the sturdy sound of it as you walk across the floor. I’d describe the smell- rich wood and sawdust, the warm smell of a natural oil finish. The silk-soft surface of a well burnished surface underfoot or in hand.”
Pioneer Millworks is the vehicle by which our reclaimed wood comes to a second, or third, chapter in their story…telling the tales of where it has been, and its original intended use. The texture of the saw marks, the bolt holes, and the mortise pockets are all physical examples and evidence of the story it wants to tell. You can feel the history with your hands, poke your fingers in the holes and know it has a past.
“Reclaimed wood is as wonderful to ponder and touch as it is on display. Sure, designers look to the relationship of hues to the room, but unlike paint or fabric or other surfaces, reclaimed wood is more than ‘tommy grey’ or ‘burnt brown.’ Imagine if you will, you have no vision or that color doesn’t matter. Reclaimed wood then becomes an adventure for the other senses. For your nose, a smell from another century, sometimes musty sometimes piney, and always earthy. (Sometimes when even our best wood experts can’t identify a species, we take out our knives to score through the patina and breathe in the newly exposed cells.) For touch, a myriad of adventures in texture lay before you — you can travel up weathered ridges of alternating sapwood and heartwood, or follow small trails where tepid explorers once burrowed their way through the fibers, or pause at round and oblong pits where nails or bolts secured timber to timber. And if your fingers don’t find these signs of previous life, perhaps your hand will pass along perfectly parallel lines curving gracefully across the plank’s face, a rough memorial to a different era when craft was slow. Lastly, there’s the sense of heart and soul that is reclaimed wood. No two planks are the same (thank goodness!), some pieces endured decades, some centuries, of weather and wear, ready to start a new adventure. And in doing so, perhaps saving a new tree from mass consumption. While Stormy Grey may drive the choice, the real color is in the story.”