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Green


"Wade considers each of his hand-crafted hardwood treasures a tribute to nature." - Culture and Leisure

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Green


"Wade considers each of his hand-crafted hardwood treasures a tribute to nature." - Culture and Leisure

In the southeast United States, where the Tennessee River dips south into Alabama, scooping out one corner and then turning back north toward its namesake state, the land is peppered with gracious old grand dames. Walnut, oak, maple, and cherry trees tower over historic plantations and new developments, beckoning to children young and old to climb, relax, and daydream on and under their shady branches.

Sadly, there comes a time in every tree’s life when she falls. Whether taken down by a storm, Mother Nature’s own timeline, or by humans for the name of development or safety, when a grand dame comes down near his Florence, Alabama, Slow Studio, Robin Wade is there to pick up the pieces. “I enjoy giving these trees a second life,” he says of the breathtaking, one-of-a-kind sustainable furniture pieces he crafts from locally harvested trees.  Wade’s strict environmental policy is simple; he only works with trees that are harvested within a 60-mile radius of his slow studio.

At Robin Wade Furniture, the entire production process mirrors an extensive effort to promote ecological balance and organic sustainability. The wood we use is harvested from our lush, southern hardwood forests, primarily within a 60-mile radius from the Florence, Alabama studio. Select urban logs or felled trees are saved from the landfill by our efforts to work hand-in-hand with local city and county governments. We also use downed trees from severe storms and timber with particular historical significance are honored as well.

Sassafras tree planting

Sassafras tree planting

Robin Wade Furniture's slow studio is in itself a model of ecological thoughtfulness. Far from being a mass production facility, RWF’s slow studio allows the magnificent slabs of wood years to dry, and Robin Wade only creates a limited number of  tables each year. Utilizing centuries-old methods, machinery and tools, each piece is finished on-site and transformed into a hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind piece of art meant to last for generations. Scrap wood from the studio is made into even more art pieces and also given away as firewood. 

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Respect for the Environment


"I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority." - E.B. White

 

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Respect for the Environment


"I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority." - E.B. White

 

We have to shift our emphasis from economic efficiency and materialism towards a sustainable quality of life and to healing of our society, of our people and our ecological systems.  -Janet Holmes à Court

Seems like everyone has an opinion on how to respect the environment. Some insist that it's an either/or situation. Either there's protection or there are jobs. Others want to go back to a more primitive existence, a simpler past. Does keeping the economy going necessitate a disrespect of the environment? Does protecting the environment require the loss of life-easing technologies? Or is it just a question of controlling waste? If nothing else, with the world's human population set to increase 30% in thirty years to 9 billion, it should be clear that at the very least the environmental balance of our planet is going to be sorely tested.

At RWF we believe in reducing waste as much as possible as well as practicing as green a harvest as possible. First of all, we acquire our logs locally. There is no clear cutting involved and if a possible tree was downed in a non-sustainable way, we pass on it (see more on this on our page Respect the Tree). Once our logs are cut they are aged by natural air drying, a multi-year process that has a negligible carbon footprint, followed by the briefest time possible in the kiln.

When you receive your RWF shipment you might be surprised by the decidedly heterogeneous packaging. We don't indulge our egos with beautifully monogrammed packaging; instead, we save all the packaging from the packages we receive and re-use it, even if the packaging in question is not made of the most sustainable materials. From crates to paper to the pallets our neighbors put out for garbage collection, we keep them all and reuse them.

After we debark our logs we need to dispose of the bark. Local horse owners love woodworkers' shavings, which is great. However we do many pieces of walnut furniture and walnut scraps are not indicated for equestrian use since walnut can lame a horse. But there's always a solution, and in this case, a local farmer uses our walnut scraps to mulch his fence rows. Mulching, of course, controls weeds without pesticide use while aerating and enriching the soil.

RWF is a member of 1% for the Planet and we also make donations to local environmental efforts. For instance, to help the storm ravaged community of Phil Campbell, Alabama we took the disaster-downed trees, cut the logs and are air drying them, after which we will make beautiful furniture which will be auctioned as a town fundraiser. This is just one example of the efforts we make daily to be environmentally conscientious and provide local and global aid whenever we can. 

At RWF we also respect the environment of our employees by providing a living wage, safe working conditions, and ensuring they have quality time with their families. We believe respect for the environment is not only a family affair, but it also informs every facet of what we do.

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Respect the tree


"Every creature is better alive than dead, men  and moose and pine trees, and he who understands it aright will rather preserve its life than destroy it."  — Henry David Thoreau

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Respect the tree


"Every creature is better alive than dead, men  and moose and pine trees, and he who understands it aright will rather preserve its life than destroy it."  — Henry David Thoreau

From the Ents of Middle Earth to Buddha's Bodhi Tree to the apple tree that gave Isaac Newton his famous “Aha!” moment, trees have always had a central place in the mythologies and achievements of humankind. Food, shelter, inspiration, and art; trees are all these things. It is no wonder, considering their beauty and longevity, that many cultures have believed that trees have souls. There is a nobility in the beauty of trees that rests the mind.  That there are trees alive today that were living before the beginning of recorded human history at the very least commands respect.

Yet, in an interesting duality, even while trees are alive, much of the wood is already dead or dying. And when the whole tree dies, its fate is usually to rot and disintegrate and return to the earth. But a craftsman/artist can, in a sense, resurrect a tree and let it live a new life. With great respect for the original tree, the craftsman will reveal the shapes, patterns and colors hidden in the tree and, plying his art, create objects that will enhance the lives of those who use them. The significant fact is that this beauty can only be unleashed with ability and an attitude of respect and admiration.

Which is why, we, at RWF have what could be called a personal relationship with the trees we use to make our furniture. Unlike the furniture maker who just pops down to the lumber yard and orders some stock, we know an awful lot about each tree. All of our lumber comes from trees that were growing within 60 miles of our studio. There is no clear cutting of any kind involved, nor even trees downed in an unsustainable way. Rather, we obtain our trees through personal intervention, whether they are city trees (downed by the parks department, city hall, or the utility department), tornado downed trees (RWF is giving back to the devastated communities by donating furniture made from some of the downed trees), friends' trees (a huge sassafras tree from an arborist friend, a walnut tree from a farmer friend, and a century old cherry tree beloved but becoming a danger to the house of another friend; in that case, the tree was downed with a "wake," a backyard celebration of the tree), and church trees (often historic trees that reached the end of their lives). We also salvage antique beams from old construction.

This loving and respectful harvest is just the first step in the slow process that creates the unique and beautiful pieces that constitute Robin Wade Furniture.