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Reclaimed wood offers endless possibilities, both practical and sensory, for creating spaces and experiences with a balance of impact and ease.

This style of lightly-worked and fairly weathered wood not only enhances brick-and-mortar spaces but also serves as a dynamic resource for photographers, stylists, and brand owners alike.

Reclaimed wood connects us to the natural world and promotes a culture of sustainability. Choosing reclaimed materials contributes to a deeper appreciation for the materials we use, encouraging responsible and mindful creative practices.

This mindful engagement benefits both our creative projects and our environmental consciousness. 



Unique Properties of Reclaimed Wood for Styling

Visual Appeal

Wood infuses any space with a sense of natural and honest beauty. In its raw form, wood possesses a quiet elegance, its grain narrating the story of its origins—where it grew and how it was sculpted by the forces of nature. These visual narratives are subtly accentuated when the wood is treated with light finishes such as nut oils, which not only protect but also enhance the wood's rich textures without concealing its inherent character.

Practical Benefits

Wood is essential for creative professionals like visual merchandisers and event stylists due to its natural versatility and durability. Designers appreciate wood for its ease of manipulation, making it suitable for various themes. It can be carved into intricate details for boutique window displays or used to build robust installations for large-scale events. Wood adapts well to any aesthetic, from rustic to refined, and is a staple in creative toolkits. Its insulation properties also make it practical for enhancing comfort in both indoor and outdoor venues.

Sensory Experience

For creative professionals, the tactile and olfactory qualities of wood greatly enhance the sensory aspect of their projects. The texture of wood, whether smooth or rugged, adds depth to event styling and visual merchandising. It encourages visitors to engage not just visually but through touch. Natural scents from woods like cedar or pine subtly enrich the atmosphere, creating a calming, earthy ambiance. These sensory attributes of wood transform it from a mere material into a crafted experience, leaving lasting impressions on attendees.

"Things are not difficult to make; what is difficult is putting ourselves in the state of mind to make them." - Constantin Brâncuși

    Constantin Brâncuși's work, including wooden totems, is noted for its simplicity and abstraction, focusing on the essential forms and lines that define his subjects.  


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    Ethically Sourcing Wood for Projects and Environmental Impact

    Reclaimed wood not only reduces waste and the need for new resources but also brings a unique history and aesthetic to creative projects. Supporting sustainable forestry ensures that wood sources are replenished and maintained responsibly, minimizing damage to ecosystems and reducing carbon footprints.

    When sourcing wood, look for specific certifications that guarantee sustainable practices.

    Certifications like:

    • FSC (Forest Stewardship Council)
    • PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification)

    They establish a level of sustainable harvesting standards.

    That said, travel thoughtfully when there’s a lack of transparency where your lumber comes from. Such sources often contribute to deforestation and exploit labor, undermining ethical sourcing efforts and environmental conservation. Engaging with suppliers who support local forestry practices or community-managed forests can also ensure a more sustainable approach to wood sourcing.

    You can also sometimes source leftover materials from:

    • Facebook Marketplace
    • Architectural salvage yards
    • Estate sales
    • Craigslist
    • A wood production studio's offcuts


    Reclaimed Wood in Creative Professional Projects

     These applications of wood not only transform spaces visually but also enhance the emotional and experiential connection between the environment and its occupants, inspiring continual innovation in creative fields.


    Using Reclaimed Wood in your Creative Projects

    Wood's natural aesthetics and flexibility make it a favored material in a wide range of professional creative projects. Here are some innovative ways to incorporate wood into various creative endeavors:


    Visual Merchandising:

    1. Feature Walls: Create striking wooden backdrops or feature walls in stores to draw attention and add warmth.
    2. Display Stands: Use different shades and textures of wood to build tiered display stands for showcasing products.
    3. Flatlay Moments: Style wooden boards with merchandise to create dimension on a shelf or tabletop.

    Creative Productions/Events:

    1. Thematic Signage: Craft wooden signs for event directions or welcome boards, tailored to match the event’s theme.
    2. Centerpiece Elements: Incorporate sculptural wood pieces as centerpieces for tables, either as standalone art or integrated with floral arrangements.
    3. Monolithic Pedestals: Create large columns or plinths made from solid wood to display signage or floral arrangements.

    Freelance Creative Projects:

    1. Art Installations: Create large-scale wood installations that can serve as focal points in galleries or public spaces.
    2. Photography Props: Use wooden frames, boxes, or stands as versatile props in photography shoots to add texture and depth to the images.


      Tips for Maintaining Aesthetic Coherence and Enhancing Natural Appeal:

      • Texture and Color Matching: Be mindful of the wood's texture and color when integrating it into designs. Consistency or thoughtful contrast can greatly influence the overall aesthetic.
      • Finish and Treatment: Choose finishes that enhance the natural qualities of the wood without overpowering it. For instance, a light oil can highlight the wood's natural grains.
      • Complementary Materials: Pair wood with materials that enhance its warmth and naturalness, such as metals for a rustic look or glass for a more modern feel, depending on the project theme.
      • Minimalist Approach: Often, less is more with wood. Use it sparingly but effectively to create focal points and let its natural beauty stand out.

      By leveraging these ideas and tips, professionals can creatively utilize wood to enhance the aesthetic value and emotional impact of their projects, making each piece not just functional but a statement of artistry.


      3 Benefits to Using Wood as a Natural Material in Your Creative Projects

      1. Natural Stress Reducer: Wood is known for its biophilic properties, meaning it helps connect individuals with nature, which can significantly reduce stress and enhance mental well-being. Environments that incorporate wood are often perceived as warmer and more welcoming, which can lower blood pressure and stress levels.
      2. Air Quality Improvement: Certain types of wood, like cedar, have natural oils that can purify the air by emitting subtle aromatic scents. These natural scents not only improve indoor air quality but can also have a calming effect, similar to the use of essential oils in aromatherapy.
      3. Sustainable and Non-toxic: For those concerned with environmental health, wood is a sustainable resource, especially when sourced responsibly. It does not emit harmful gases and can be treated with natural, non-toxic finishes to maintain indoor air quality and avoid the health risks associated with synthetic materials.




      Introductory Techniques for Working with Wood as a Stylist or Merchandiser

      Hand Carving Wood Props

      Using chisels and gouges to carve wood can be an engaging way to create decorative elements or intricate details on wood surfaces.


      5 Tips for Hand Working Wood with a Chisel


      1. Choose the Right Wood

        • Soft Woods: Begin with softer woods like basswood, pine, or cedar, which are easier to carve and less likely to cause tool strain.
        • Grain Consideration: Pay attention to the grain of the wood. Carving with the grain reduces resistance and the likelihood of the wood splitting.

      2. Select Appropriate Tools

        • Carving Knives: Have a variety of carving knives on hand, each with different blade shapes and sizes suited for specific tasks, like detailing or roughing out.
        • Chisels and Gouges: Invest in a good set of chisels and gouges; these tools are essential for creating curves and hollows.
        • Sharpening Equipment: Keeping your tools sharp is crucial. Use a sharpening stone or strop to maintain the edges of your tools.

      3. Learn Basic Cuts

        • Stop Cut: A basic and essential technique where you make a perpendicular cut into the wood and then slice up to it in a controlled manner to create a clean edge.
        • Push Stroke: Use your thumb on the back of the blade to push the knife away from you, giving you control for detailed work.
        • Pull Stroke: Hold the knife and pull it towards you, letting your body control the motion, ideal for removing larger chunks of wood.

      4. Secure Your Work

        • Use a Vise or Clamp: Securing your workpiece prevents it from moving and allows for more accurate cuts.
        • Workbench: A steady workbench is ideal for hand-carving, providing a solid foundation that absorbs impacts.

      5. Practice Safety

        • Gloves: Wear cut-resistant gloves to protect your hands.
        • Proper Positioning: Always carve away from your body, and ensure no body parts are in the path of the tool.
        • Focused Work: Never carve when tired or distracted. Hand-carving requires attention to detail and precision. 






      Adding Natural Oils to Enhance the Look of Wood Props

      Adding natural waxes or oils to wood is an excellent method for both preserving and enhancing its natural beauty. These treatments not only protect the wood from wear and environmental damage but also bring out the richness of its grain and color. Here’s a brief overview of how to use these natural finishes:


      Natural Oil Finishes for Wooden Displays

      Types of Oils

      • Linseed Oil: One of the most popular choices, linseed oil penetrates deep into the wood, providing protection while highlighting the grain. It’s ideal for both indoor and outdoor furniture.
      • Tung Oil: Known for its tough, water-resistant finish, tung oil is great for surfaces that require extra durability, such as countertops and outdoor pieces.
      • Mineral Oil: Often used for cutting boards and kitchen utensils, mineral oil is food-safe and prevents water absorption, which can cause wood to crack.


      1. Clean the Wood: Ensure the wood is clean and dry before application.
      2. Apply the Oil: Use a clean rag to apply the oil in thin, even coats.
      3. Wipe Off Excess: After a few minutes, wipe off any excess oil with a clean cloth. This prevents the wood from becoming sticky.
      4. Cure Time: Allow the oil to cure, which can take several days depending on the type of oil and the environmental condition


        Natural Wax

        Types of Waxes:
        • Beeswax: This natural wax provides a soft, satin finish and has the added benefit of a pleasant, subtle scent. It’s excellent for furniture and decorative items.
        • Carnauba Wax: A bit harder than beeswax, carnauba wax is excellent for high-wear areas because of its durable finish.
        • Blended Waxes: Many commercial products blend beeswax with other natural waxes to combine the benefits of each.


        1. Prepare the Surface: Apply wax to a clean, oil-free surface. If oil was used prior, ensure it is fully cured.
        2. Apply the Wax: Use a soft cloth or brush to apply the wax in a circular motion.
        3. Buff the Wax: After applying the wax, buff it with a clean, soft cloth to bring out a natural shine.
        4. Reapplication: Natural waxes do not create a permanent finish and will need to be reapplied periodically to maintain their protective qualities.

        Both oils and waxes enhance the natural feel of wood, making them highly desirable for projects that aim to maintain an organic aesthetic. They are also environmentally friendly options, aligning well with sustainability goals. These finishes not only protect but also significantly enhance the sensory appeal of the wood, making them popular choices in health and wellness-focused environments.


        Tips for Handworking Wood:

        1. Choose the Right Wood: Start with softer woods like pine or cedar, which are easier to work with using hand tools.
        2. Prep Your Surface: Sand your wood before applying stains or finishes to ensure an even, smooth application.
        3. Use Natural Finishes: Opt for natural oils like linseed or tung oil, which penetrate deep to protect and enhance the wood’s natural beauty without harmful chemicals.
        4. Keep Tools Sharp: Sharp tools are safer and more effective. Regularly hone the edges of chisels, planes, and saws for precise cuts and less physical effort.
        5. Practice Safety: Always wear safety glasses and work gloves, and ensure your work area is well-ventilated, especially when sanding or applying finishes.


        In Harmony with Nature and Creative Flow

        “The heart of the tree gives the best and most prolonged service" - George Nakashima, a renowned woodworker and architect

        Styling With Wood - Enhancing Spacial Ambiance Naturally

        Wood is an exceptional material for creating serene and healthful environments, essential for spaces designed around wellness and grounding. Here are practical ways wellness brands and brick-and-mortar locations can integrate wood effectively:

        1. Reception Desks and Waiting Areas: Use wooden furniture to evoke a sense of calm and welcome. Natural wood finishes can soothe visitors' mood upon entry.
        2. Flooring and Wall Features: Incorporate wood in flooring or as cladding for walls to add warmth and texture, enhancing the overall sense of tranquility.
        3. Decorative Accents: Place wooden sculptures or artisanal wooden pieces around the space to promote a connection with nature.

        To maximize the aesthetic and functional benefits of wood, consider pairing it with abundant natural light and indoor greenery. Natural light brings out the rich, warm tones of wood, while plants complement its earthy qualities, creating a refreshing, oxygen-rich environment. This combination not only boosts the visual appeal but also enhances the wood's inherent qualities of promoting relaxation and wellness, making any space more inviting and grounding for everyone who enters.


        Overall Impact

        By leveraging wood's aesthetic, practical, and sensory qualities, creative professionals can create projects that are visually impressive and rich in texture and atmosphere. This holistic use of wood enhances the overall impact of their creative projects.

        Reclaimed wood connects us to the natural world and promotes a culture of sustainability. Choosing reclaimed materials contributes to a deeper appreciation for the materials we use, encouraging responsible and mindful creative practices.

        This mindful engagement benefits both our creative projects and our environmental consciousness.


        Inspired or have any questions? Check out our recommended styling props (near the top of this article) or share your wood styling content with us over @blocksetproject.

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