Reclaiming materials from the earth to create useful objects has been a pursuit for ages. People simply used local resources to build the tools and items they needed. In areas where trees were plentiful, the next natural step was to make things attractive. Using the colors and grain became a challenge to the inspired artist, and preserving natural beauty a must. This heritage of craftsmanship is pointedly revived in Chicago, Illinois, where many artisans are using woods reclaimed from many buildings built over one hundred years ago.
There is much craftsmanship to be seen when discovering the local studios. Seeing and touching the woods used helps visitors to appreciate that modern art through reclaimed wood is wondrous. This material can actually become artistic when used with new eyes and skilled hands. Combining any number of varieties of natural, painted or stained pieces, stunning installations are possible. Once appreciated for the beautiful inner grain or sturdiness in construction, old woods are being used in many art studios.
The Chicago art scene is populated with many craftsman who use a variety of woods as their inspiration. With varied textures their palette, their experimentation with salvaged pieces are filling local studios and galleries. There are handsome furniture pieces and significant works of fine art available for purchase.
It is not unusual to see texture layered upon texture to achieve a large piece. Combinations of paint or stain are used to delineate pattern and line. These are eye catching, yet encourage touch as well.
Slices and chips merge to make mosaics filled with movement and rhythm. The high and low of varied sizes creates rugged yet appealing surfaces. Contrasting or complementary stain and paint colors develop thematic units in large pieces. It takes as much time to assemble these as it would to create a traditional tile version, and the final pieces exhibit similar levels of beauty. The skillful eye is able to see pictures in these small units and the hand of the craftsman is skilled to mass them into something much more important as a whole than they were as single bits of material.
Though it might be tempting to think that woods previously used in buildings could only be used for angular construction, there are many geometric shapes discovered here. The Chicago artisans have become adept at using items from simple barns and furnishings to create items with distinctive circular shapes. The trick is to see how they overlay the bits to come up with something unexpectedly fluid in appearance.
Harvesting materials that are left over after sawing lumber or cutting trees takes on a new look in the hands of the artists. Dust piles, slivers and tiny splinters are all put to good use. Some may have been part of an old building, a barn or anything made of wood. Transforming carpenter cast offs into artistic uses is what motivates the owners of many studios.
Construction remnants are made into new artwork. Assembling anything that is repetitive will make an interesting wall covering or patterned walkway. It all depends on the hands of the craftsman.
Reclaiming the left over bits and pieces that had a previous life as another item is particularly satisfying to those who yearn to recycle. This artwork focus is one way to be mindful of local and global resources and the ways that using things again can protect the world environment. Modern artwork with new goals are resulting in the old and rejecting living anew.
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