You And Your Wood
Have you just bought something from us?
If so, welcome to what we believe is a very cool club...
Your wood was once a living breathing thing, it grew itself in wild nature. It weathered storms and lived through scorching summers. It supported birds raising families, and it was home to many a squirrel. It made it's own decisions and gave us the mighty gift of itself.
We respect the wood and never forget that it had a life of it's own. This can make it a joy to work with, as every piece is unique and easy to cherish. It also does come with considerations. It's not always an easy medium to work with, and sometimes no matter how much love we give to some wood, it doesn't always do what we'd like. But when it does, magic things can happen and we wouldn't change it for the world. The care of wood shouldn't stop when it falls out of the mailing bag into your home. It's a commitment to own a wood piece (not a massive one that will take over your life, more like owning a sentimental teddy bear), but we promise it's so worth it.
We put so much care into everything we make, and since we hand make everything to order you can be confident that everything has gone through multiple quality checks and we'll never send anything that we don't have confidence in. However! That's not to say that there can't be a flaw in some grain that has been undetectable during the making process. Wood keeps a lot of it's secret history secret. You've bought something lovingly handmade from a natural material, in a world full of disposable rubbish bought from cheap websites. So many things in life nowadays are disposable and replaceable at the drop of a hat; we build our work to last, but ask that it's a shared responsibility with the people who welcome it into their life.
We are all but custodians of the wood. The wood tells us what to do and if we've pushed too hard. You need to listen to your wood and give it what it needs. Whether that's peace to settle into it's new life, or encouragement to meet it's full potential. Here's our brief guide on how you can help your new wood become the best version of itself...
Welcome Home Little One
Your wood will have been through a lot when it first arrives with you...
burning, oiling, drying, all wrapped up, shipped, tossed about. I don't think any of us would feel the best after being put through all that.
It will have been exposed to hugely varying temperatures, stresses, humidity and pressure. It may have tightened up a wee bit, but that's only natural. Start off your relationship with your wood by giving it time to relax. In a cool dry place that allows it to settle back in the natural grain formation.
Food & Drink Wood
Give the wood a chance to rest for a day upon arrival in your home. If you want to be extra loving to the wood, you can give it a bath in cold water with salt added, after you've let it rest.
Go To The Gym Together
Just like people, your new wood can benefit from strength training; build up the warmth/cold of the liquids that you add to it. Let it flex and bend and find it's limits without being under too much stress. Never ever ever put boiling water into it unless you've been strength training for years and your wood is well settled.
Don't put it in a dishwasher and don't let it soak for long periods in hot water. Use food safe oil (olive oil is great if you don't want to buy a food safe oil) regularly to keep the wood from drying out and liable to cracking. The more care you put into your wood, the more memories and time you'll share. A quick re-oil every few uses will keep your wood fresh and subtle. If you plan to let it gather dust in your cupboard, I'd encourage you to take it out every couple of months to re-oil so it's not brittle.
Wood is porous an will imbibe stains, flavours and colours of certain foods. There are some Woodworkers out there who will use heavy varnishes that will be wonderfully wipe-able, but not safe to eat or drink off. We never use these harsh varnishes and encourage you to check what finish is on any wood to be used for this purpose, before buying. We recommend testing to see if your food will stain the wood. Some people love the 'lovingly weathered' look for their wood, but others like it pristine. It's not for us to say, just to give a wee heads up!
Don't Get Hot Headed
I'll say it again just for those in the back... never ever ever put boiling water into a new mug. You must slowly build up the warmth of liquids in mugs if you want to avoid a fracture in the grain.
If you've got a wood piece for outdoor use there are lots of things you can do to give it the longest and best life possible. Wood outdoors will never last as long as wood indoors, I think the same can be said of us all. But the good news is that we use the best quality natural finishes that will give your wood the best start in life at surviving the outdoors.
Keep your wood out of direct sunlight! Exposing your wood to direct sun is the quickest way to throw your wood in the bin. Sun will bleach any wood, but will destroy the engraved design like you wouldn't believe.
Too hot? Your wood can become brittle and crack. Too cold? Rain and snow can force fissures to form and split that wood right up.
Every piece of wood needs some level of constant care, and your outdoor wood will need you that wee bit more. We recommend using Danish Oil; it's easily available in most Countries and is easy to work with. Be sure to get it in a natural or clear finish so that it doesn't affect the wood tone too much. The amount of time you'll have to do this really varies on the positioning of your wood (so how much a beating it takes in the elements); how long you'd like to keep your sign for; but most importantly... how much time you've got on your hands. Some folk can and need to re-oil every 6 months. I gave my cousin a garden sign and she didn't do anything to her wood and it split in the next summer because it was in the full sun glare and she didn't re-oil it.
The most important thing you can do is to check your wood and get to know it. You should see when it needs a little help.
The same care principles apply to indoor wood as outdoor wood. You don't have to be as worried about extreme temperatures throughout the year, but definitely don't put it anywhere near direct heat sources (eg. over a radiator or where the sun directly shines in). You can do it if you like of course, but your wood will probably crack from the heat or fade in the sun.
You won't need to re-oil as often, but you will still need to. Re-oiling really depends on the type of use and the frequency of use. For example...
We have some of our coasters in our living room. We use them everyday for hot and cold drinks. We re-oil them every 6 months. They probably don't need that all the time, but what would we look like if we had badly finished wood in our home, since we make it!
But if you have a wall hanging that's out of direct sunlight and heat and is quietly doing it's job... maybe every 18 months is spot on!
This section refers to log slices designed only for display purposes, not cake logs
Our beautiful Paulownia wood is treated a little differently, in a way that works best for it.
A quick outdoor varnish every 6 months is plenty. Some oil-based varnishes can have a yellowing finish tone to them, so we'd recommend a water-based varnish.
So long as it's out of that dreaded direct sunlight and heat, every 18 months should be more than enough. An indoor water-based wood varnish is sometimes easier and cheaper to come by than an outdoor version.
Common Problems and Their Easy Answers
My wood has arrived and it's bent in the middle
As mentioned above, your wood has been through a lot when it first arrives at your home. Don't worry! It just needs your help to settle. Your wood should never be close to direct heat sources anyway, but particularly as it acclimatises to its new environment, let it rest in a cool dry place.
A heavy book can work wonders! If your wood has reacted to it's environment and some grain has contracted more than other bits, put it 'curve up' on the ground and a heavy book on top of it. Leave it to settle and any bend will be a thing of the past.
I'd like to make tea in my new mug
Go right ahead! Did you know that some say tea and coffee are made best with water that's not quite boiling point anyway? So in your training of your wood to handle warmer temps, it might be easier than think to make that perfect cuppa.
Can I eat all my wedding cake, even the bits touching the log slice?
Of course you can, munch away! Paulownia wood is very light, fine-grained, and warp-resistant; it's the lightest to strongest ratio wood species in the world, so although very light, it can do a heavy-duty job better than most other log slices. Paulownia wood is odorless, naturally resistant to fire, salt water, termites, decay and rot; so won't imbibe any nasty flavouring into a cake. We've spent a long researching the best wood for this job, and we're confident that this is the best around.
How do I care for my buttons?
Handwash only and don't leave the buttons to soak in water for extended periods of time. You can use them for outdoor clothing use of course and they've been well tested for durability.
Not suitable for children as small pieces can be ingested
Can I use my keyring as a normal keyring?
Of course you can! Obviously it won't be as durable as a metal or plastic keyring, as it is still wood after all. But we work hard on our designs and only make keyrings in shapes that are as durable as possible. We recommend giving your wood keyring a little more consideration when being thrown into bags or onto tables, but with a little care your keyring will last for years.
What envelopes can I use for my wedding invitations?
There are mountains of choice when it comes to envelopes. I wouldn't even guess at all the types now. This does mean we can't give a blanket answer, as some papyrus style paper or seeded paper don't work well with the oil that we use to finish the invitations.
The best thing to do is test one invitation and one envelope to make sure they are compatible.
Can my crazy dog wear one of your pet tags?
Absolutely! Do bear in mind the nature of wood though, it's not indestructible. Some dogs are mad and tear about through forests and wrestle with their friends. Some dogs sit on the sofa all day long. Our dog Samwise is the first type... if there's mischief and dirt to get into, he'll get into it.
It does mean that won't wear one of our pet tags when he's out on an adventure, he keeps his for when he's trying to look his nicest and smartest. And that works perfectly, he's had the same tag now for his whole life and it's still perfect.
Can you turn a personalised Christmas bauble into a different type of product?
Yes and no. Yes because we can do it, no because we won't do it all the time. Like everything we make, we work to make it fit for purpose. By that I mean our baubles are designed to be delicate and intricate and hang gently from a Christmas tree. A product like that wouldn't last a minute as a keyring. And we'll never agree to something that we know that'll be a waste of time and money for you. We'll look after you and always try to guide you right.
But please do ask! As some designs can be adapted into other products and will be grand.
Still got questions? We'd be thrilled to help out! Anto and Jenny have been eco-consciously working with wood for 7 years now. We want you and your wood to have a wonderful life together.
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