Alarming distinctions in knock-off artisan furniture...
As handmade artisan furniture continues to rise in popularity we've started to see knock-offs... the "fast fashion" of the home decor manufacturers over seas ripping off popular handmade styles that top the Pinterest boards and Instagram feeds.
I recently saw a stump table priced at $1600 at a retail store in the mall. Under closer investigation, its not a stump or even wood at all but cast plaster that was painted silver. In another store we found end table stumps that looked real from about 50 ft, but up close it was apparent someone had clipped together graphics of woodgrain printed on laminate and covered the piece to appear to look like wood...the graphic they used to print the laminate was even pixelated.
I wont name names, but a couple of major interior retailers have been selling imported acacia "live edge" tables. I recently had a close up look at one of them in person while consulting to make a matching bench and this table was regular paneled lumber that was sanded back on the edges to make it look like a natural edge. And it looks like they wiped the whole thing in some kind of stain wash to darken sap wood areas and finished in flat spray varnish. Mass produced with a fraction of the care or time that goes into the pieces they aspire to look like. You get what you pay for.
The "live edge" cause...
Live edge furniture started growing in popularity because it has a notable presence in a home, it infuses a warm natural energy through its unique rustic appearance. We believe this to be especially true for reclaimed urban wood as it promotes reuse of a valuable natural resource from your land. Its a sort of mutual respect and good stewardship.
A lot of our customers request local grown lumber for their commissions because there is a certain value knowing that your table came from nearby soil. You know it wasn't cut down from a rain forest in South America and freighted here on a ship and again in a truck. When we build furniture we work with our customer to specifically select slabs and hardwood from local sawmills that specialize in reclaimed urban lumber, or FSC certified responsibly sourced exotic hardwoods that are ideal for their style and for the build. This takes time searching for the right pieces and options depending on budget limitations, style, availability, etc.
Quality slabs and lumber does not get processed on a large volume commercial sawmill but usually a few determined guys, sometimes chainsaws and cranes are involved and eventually kilns. These trees spend time in a lot of hands before they are finished furniture.