Wood is one of the most useful and beautiful resources from nature, and one of the most renewable. However, that only succeeds when properly managed as a resource. Too often, forests are clear cut and optimal forest management is not a worldwide reality. We continue to witness deforestation at an alarming rate, often for cattle grazing or fuel, with wood for framing pictures merely an afterthought.
In Oceania, wood production increased over 300% for industry and 60% for fuel in the last 40 years. This is unsustainable, and the massive culling has disastrous and potentially irreversible implications - not only for equatorial ecology, but for the entire planet as habitats are destroyed. A previous framing industry standard was ramin, an Asian wood with an excellent ability to take a stain and not warp. However, using it was destroying forests and today it has been largely discontinued. Substitutes have been problematic, often impossible to certify in sufficient supply. As much of the low-cost frame moulding is imported from Asia or South America, understanding the source of wood is critical.
The worst victims of this over-cutting are some of our most elegant and rare hardwoods: Honduras Mahogany, Teak, Paduak, Wenge, Ebony and Koa. While logging these woods is not the only reason the tropical rainforests are disappearing, it is a significant factor. We discontinued using tropical hardwoods, unless they are certified from a sustainable source or are from old fallen stock, or perhaps in veneers.
Another trend is finger-jointed pines from renewable sources. After the application of gesso, the wood is formed in innumerable shapes and finished from matte black to gold. However, this does not enable you to create a frame with a natural wood appearance due to the joint lines required in its engineering. Reclaimed, veneer and laminates are another approach in design. Altogether, these are steps in the right direction.
Fortunately, the great hardwood forests of North America are well managed, and in many cases, are now more plentiful than they were a century ago. Therefore, using maple, cherry, and walnut grown in the US is an ideal solution, whether or not it is FSC certified.
Our love of natural woods for picture frame mouldings has led us to feature these truly beautiful domestic hardwoods. Maple, Cherry, Walnut, White Oak and Ash with natural finishes rival the aesthetic of the exotic woods.
Maple Forest, Michigan
Raw Ash - showing grain