Pardon the absence. We have been running around for the last two months, and have not had a chance to sit down and do a proper blog post. Today's post is going to be about a custom project we finished last month for a client on the island.
The project was very exciting for exploration in material and technique. Leading up to the project we had been experimenting with creating our own stains. This brought back a class we took together taught by PJ Carlino at Parsons, where he exposed us to natural dying. We quickly found that the same techniques of creating dye for fabric translate to dying wood.
For this project we were challenged to create brackets for a live edge maple top to be set at counter height. Given the color and tones found in the intended space, we decided to go with an ebonizing solution on Western maple. Unlike oak and walnut, maple does not contain a high concentration of tannins in the grain and therefore does not "ebonies" the same dark color. Instead we are left with a subtle bluish-grey wash that enhances the natural figuring in the slab.
The bark of the slab dyes in a much deeper blue, creating a topographical edge. Being a live-edge slab with quite a severe split, butterfly joints were used to stabilize for a longterm solution. Since we were going to stain with the ebonizing solution, we wanted to highlight the joinery by using walnut butterflies. The walnut ebonized to a deep violet.
For the brackets, the design remained simple yet draws from the lofty stools. The top rail drops at an angle for the gap that is required for the window sill. The parallel lines created with 1" flat steel stock are a single design detail that serves a very functional purpose of support. The metal is finished with a matte black powder coat to compliment the bluish-grey of the maple top.
While we typically try to enhance the natural personality of each species of wood with a simple Tung oil finish, when given the challenge to stain, we wanted to ensure that the figuring of such a beautiful slab was going to be the highlight of the piece. This also allowed us to control the chemicals going into the bar. In this case, the stain was made from a mixture of steel wool and vinegar. The wash-like stain we came up with provided the color without sacrificing the dynamic ribboning of the grain. The color is reminiscent of the ocean with its frothy white and deep blues.
With this project opening up up our own stains, we are happy to delve deeper into natural dyes including the use of mushrooms. Since mushroom season is still going, we have a chance to take advantage of Vancouver Island's naturally produced dyes.