The Process Of Reclamation
Reclamation is the process of claiming something back. Items that were perhaps discarded, considered no longer fit for purpose, or of looking past their best. Reclamation takes a bit of ingenuity, a bit of vision, and a lot of time and care. But with those three aspects in place, it is possible to take something old and make something new. Reclaimed wood is perhaps the most used of reclaimed materials.
Reclaimed Materials And The Orchard
Reclamation is a process that sits well with our ethos here at The Orchard, we are terrible at throwing things away, and always believe that something can have a use or value beyond what is normally considered its life span. This ethos has run through many of our products over the years, we have long stocked items that make use of reclaimed timber and metals; old boat wood turned into furniture, scraps of wood from derelict buildings turned into picture frames, bike parts made into lighting and industrial pipes turned into storage solutions.
We also cherish all things vintage, or more specifically ‘vintage inspired,’ items, pieces that take their styling cues from the best of the past but made from newer materials or via modern processes. To that end, we also love what might be called ‘vintage’ materials; cast iron, aged brass, crackle glazed terracotta and reclaimed wood. Such materials have a rich character, they have flaws, but flaws that suggest a story, a process, a life, not something that is perfectly manufactured by machine. For us, it will always be man made, not robot made. It will always be textured, distressed, tactile finishes rather than blemish free, heavily engineered, anodyne perfection.
Reclaimed Wood – The King Of Reclaimed Materials
Personally, I am an unashamed lover of wood. I cannot think of a place, or situation where wood would not enhance or add value to a setting. Without trees we have no oxygen, I could start and stop there, thus is the importance of wood, however on a less grandiose level wood is so versatile, beautiful and practical. You may be sat at work reading this right now, is your desk wood? Many are, and if it isn’t, wouldn’t it look better in a beautiful, natural wood? At the dining table (wood), carved bowls and serving utensils, in a gorgeous car, a Walnut dash, in a kids bedroom, the quintessential bunk beds, in the garden, your garden furniture, the shed, maybe a trellis…all wood. Panelled walls, bridges, barns, floors, doors, frames, windmills, boats, treasure chests (!), chairs, toys, fences, the list goes on and on. Wood is hard wearing, if looked after an almost infinite life span, wood is versatile, strong and capable of taking on so many appearances be it in its raw state, painted, stained, waxed or oiled.
Which brings me to reclaimed wood. Driftwood or a decaying tree can make the most stunning piece of simple furniture or decoration. Many a new home is greatly enhanced by installing reclaimed floorboards. Old construction timber can be re-purposed into any number of things. And it is from this source that The Orchard produces some of its most popular items. Our reclaimed wood wall shelves and hook racks began their lives in old buildings where they were once floors, supports, moldings, skirts or surrounds, some even come from building sites as scaffold planks. We ‘reclaim’ them, we take something old and make something new.
The Making Of Our Reclaimed Wood Products
Once we have sourced the timber job one is to clean it up. Some require degreasing agents be applied others just a good, thorough sanding. Both require a lot of manual labour, all our workshop guys have one overdeveloped forearm and bicep! We remove any dead or damp elements, as well as any nails, straps or similar. Beyond that, however, we try to leave as much character in the wood as possible, our reclaimed wood shelves obviously need to be flat and fit for purpose, but where we can, we leave natural grooves, chips, nail holes, pock marks etc. After the initial clean up work and sanding, we move on to staining and/or waxing. The Orchard’s wood stains require the wood to be thoroughly cleaned with white spirit to ensure good adhesion of the colour but the wax treatments can go straight on to the raw wood.
Whether it be our wood stains or our waxes, of which we offer a number of colours, we apply at least two coats. In between coats we nib back the first coat of stain or buff the first coat of wax before applying a second. After two coats of stain we nib back for a final time to ensure a smooth, and blended look before applying a clear coat of finishing wax to seal in the colour and protect the wood. The final stage is to buff the top coat of wax to a low sheen. Both our stains and our waxes highlight the natural grain and patina of the wood. The waxes, in particular, are great at getting into all the nooks and crevices of the wood to give a deep, rich colour.
For our reclaimed wood wall shelves, we then drill and mount traditional designed, cast iron wall brackets. For our reclaimed wood coat hook racks, we affix any number of different designs of cast iron or aged brass hooks. Our personalised ceramic tile letter hooks are a firm favourite. For an ‘invisible mounting’ look we hide the mounting holes behind the hooks for a clean appearance when mounted up on to your wall.
The end result is a beautiful, characterful, vintage inspired creation utilising reclaimed wood, heritage ironmongery and a lot of love!