Search Results for "downed"

Trees Downed in 2012 Storm Crafted into Stand for Local Bell

Urban wood bell stand

The red oak and black walnut bell stand, now a permanent part of the West Chicago City Museum’s collection, is surrounded from left to right by Tom Tawney, Lorenzo Covarrubias, Fernando Ramirez, Jeff Perkis, Mayor Ruben Pineda and Sara Phalen.

West Chicago, Illinois: August 28, 2015 Downed trees from the storm that hit Reed-Keppler Park in West Chicago on July 1, 2012 continue to give back to the community more than three years later through the talents of architect, woodworker and former resident Jeff Perkis.

The City of West Chicago commissioned Perkis to create a lasting legacy that celebrates the heritage and culture of many of its residents It will play a major role in the upcoming Mexican Independence Day Parade and Celebration, to be held downtown on Sunday, September 13, 2015.

A four-foot tall, solid red oak bell stand with walnut accents, sturdy enough to hold the approximately 80-pound train bell, which has been at the center of the spirited historical re-enactment of El Grito de la Independencia or the Cry of Independence, was built with the repurposed wood that Perkis and his uncle, Ron Myers, milled a couple of months after the storm.

As a member of the Illinois Wood Utilization Team (WUT), as well as a member of the Chicago Furniture Design Association (CFDA), Perkis is a specialist in sustainable design utilizing urban wood. He created Out of the Woods after the storm hit and worked with architecture students and Associate Professor Paul Pettigrew at the Illinois Institute of Technology to design and fabricate various pieces of extraordinary works of art.

Perkis became aware of the need for the bell stand following an introduction to West Chicago resident, Tom Tawney, who also has strong ties to the community. Tawney’s father-in-law, Lorenzo Covarrubias, emigrated from Mexico in 1957 as one of the first Mexican families to settle in West Chicago. He holds the distinction of being West Chicago’s Patron de la Campana, or Patron of the Bell, and has offered the use of his bell for West Chicago’s El Grito for the past 23-years. However, over the years, its makeshift stand was worn and in need of replacement.

The two men agreed to work together on a design, and the City agreed to underwrite the cost of the labor and materials to build a new stand.  From a design standpoint, the decision was made to replicate some of the styles already existing within the community, particularly the Arts and Crafts style of many of the homes in the area. Perkis also referenced work done by architect brothers Greene and Greene, and ended up translating elements of these designs into his own. His fine craftsmanship and woodworking skills produced a stand that is strikingly beautiful and worthy of the momentous historic event that it celebrates.

The project has come to have great significance for Perkis, and he became introspective recently about its meaning for him. “I grew up playing baseball, football and soccer at Reed-Keppler Park. I spent a large part of my childhood in that Park”.

He continues to wonder from which exact tree this wood may have come, and if he had seen it in the Park before? “I found myself reminiscing about many childhood memories. I felt, and still do feel, very proud that I was able to give this wood, from such a devastating event, a chance to continue to be enjoyed by the community. I am happy that not all the wood from that storm was turned into firewood or mulch, and I hope this will help others to see that there is opportunity for a higher use of wood from our own backyards.”

Perkis presented the new bell stand to the West Chicago City Museum on Wednesday, August 26, 2015, surrounded by fellow residents Tom Tawney and Lorenzo Covarrubias, Mayor Ruben Pineda, Museum Director Sara Phalen and Mexican Cultural Center DuPage’s President and event organizer, Fernando Ramirez. Perkis plans on using some of the saw dust and wood chips he collected from the project to make paper on which he will print the details of the stand’s creation so that it will “tell its story” for future generations. The stand will become part of the City’s permanent collection and remain at the Museum when it is not being used at the City event.



Iowa Derecho: So many trees lost, so little wood saved

A crew cleans up tree debris following the Aug. 10 derecho in Cedar Rapids, IA.

By Rich Christianson

The wicked Aug. 10 derecho that spawned tornadoes, high winds and torrential rains throughout the Midwest sent me to take cover in a basement for the second time in my life. One look at the fast-approaching gray green front was enough to convince me that the tornado alerts for the northwest side of Chicago were more than mere local news hype. I was instantly reminded of the 1967 tornadoes that struck Oak Lawn, IL, that caused my parents to shoo my siblings and me downstairs. That event claimed 58 lives.

Fortunately for us, the worst of the storm in my area were a few downed trees and many heavy branches. Many in Iowa were not so lucky.

According to the Washington Post, the Iowa derecho was the most costly thunderstorm in U.S. history. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimated damage in Iowa and other midwestern states at $7.6 billion. That’s higher than any recorded tornado and more than many hurricanes.

Cedar Rapids, IA, was particularly hard hit. Wind gusts of up to 140 mph plummeted the area. Electrical power was knocked out for nearly all 133,000 residents and more than 1,000 homes were rendered unlivable.

The derecho also wiped out about 20 percent of Iows’s crops and felled trees by the hundreds. 

Six weeks after the devastating event, the Des Moines Register reported that the city’s cleanup crews had transported 9,291 loads of tree debris to a huge metropolitan compost site.

Several other articles posted in the wake of the Iowa derecho reported how local woodworkers and artists were using wood from felled trees to make craft items, most of them being sold or auctioned to support relief efforts. But that’s a drop in the ocean considering the massive amount of wood that could potentially be repurposed. 

No doubt, the number one priority in this type of situation is clearing downed trees in the interests of public safety. But somewhere after the smoke clears, it would be optimal to have a plan for repurposing as many of these trees as practically possible. Doing so begins by integrating urban wood utilization into disaster planning. 

I think we’ll get there, but we’re clearly not there yet. We still have far to many metropolitan cities to integrate urban wood recovery into their urban forestry initiatives. But perhaps the Iowa derecho can serve as a wake-up call for municipalities to realize that even if they can’t plan what do to with trees after a natural disaster, that they can at least figure out what might be done to gain value from the sycamore tree removed from the Smith’s parkway.

Baby steps…

 

 


Atlantic Fine Woods: From African Exotics to Georgian Urban Wood

 

Atlantic Fine Hardwoods (AFH) business model is far different today than the one upon which it was founded by the brother-and-sister duo Joe and Laura Sissoko.

According to the company’s website, AFH started as an importer of hardwood logs sustainably sourced from the tropical forest of the Congo Basin. 

An article in the spring 2020 issues of Atlanta Home magazine offers more details about the company’s origins and why it shifted to urban woods.

“When siblings Laura and Joe Sissoko decided to start milling wood in 2012, it wasn’t for furniture, but rather for fine guitars and other musical instruments. At first, the pair called the company African Figurative Woods and supplied exotic woods primarily to the niche world of fine guitars and other instruments. But in 2014, political strife and sectarian violence in the Central African Republic prevented exports from the country. That’s when the Sissokos turned to domestic woods — specifically local domestic wood. Aside from the exotic species, all of the wood they mill comes from downed trees in the metro Atlanta area, which they dub ‘urban wood.'” 

In addition to milling, AHF has a large-scale kiln to dry maple, pecan, walnut, hackberry and other woods salvaged from the greater Atlanta-area’s urban forest. To find suitable logs, AHF works with private tree care services. The company’s customer base is primarily woodworkers looking for something unique for their custom projects.

AFH’s website describes some of  the distinctions between urban wood and tradition forest products.  

“The process of milling urban trees is much more labor-intensive and time-consuming than what you find in the traditional forest products process. The processes are similar to the difference between handmade artisan work and what happens on a large-scale, industrial assembly line. Urban trees are collected in small quantities, cut to appropriate sizes, scanned for metal or other defects, and processed in small batches where the character and unique quality of the wood can be carefully brought to its full potential. We believe the defects in the wood — dynamic live edges, knots, cracks and voids — are what brings it character and beauty, and we try to maximize the potential of each log we mill.​”

As urban wood became a larger focus, the Sissokos rechristened their business Atlantic Fine Hardwoods. While AFH no longer imports logs, it still maintains an inventory of exotic woods. from the Central African Republic. “We want to start doing the milling and processing there,” Joe told Atlanta magazine. “That way we’d leave more work and more jobs in that country.”

 



At-risk Youth Learn About Urban Wood

Editor’s note: The following article was written by Lekas & Levine Public Relations.

That buzzing sound recently heard throughout Allendale’s Lake Villa campus was the sound of transformation at work.

Literally, it was a large hydraulic sawmill cutting fallen trees into slabs, the first step to turning those dying white oaks into timeless handcrafted furniture.

In a deeper sense, it echoed Allendale Association’s mission of helping youth who have experienced various forms of trauma and adversity find their strength and capacity, transforming over time into healthy, independent adults.

The new, repurposed wood program is a collaboration between Allendale — a not-for-profit facility for kids with serious emotional, mental and behavioral challenges — and Jeff Clark, owner of Old School Timber Works Company in Libertyville. Clark is passionate about repurposing Illinois’ urban hardwood, as well as teaching life skills to at-risk youth.

Woodworking has long been a part of Allendale’s Career and Technical Education Program, which helps students develop vocational skills. Its wood shop instructor, Rob Serdar, a third-generation carpenter, was seeking ways to develop the program when the opportunity arose.

“Our hope is to expand our students’ imaginations and capabilities,” Serdar said, “while providing locally-sourced, high-quality wood pieces that will bring exposure to Allendale and give students a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

In addition, Clark — whose company provides on-site milling services, sells repurposed lumber and creates custom wood pieces — believes students will benefit from a better understanding of responsibly sourcing their lumber.

The process is known as Tree to Table; i.e., repurposing fallen lumber into furniture and goods rather than dumping and chipping it.

“Over a billion board feet of quality urban hardwood is wasted every year in the U.S.,” Clark said.

“These kids were part of a sustainable process in which they created beautiful, white oak lumber, saving and repurposing a worthy asset. Maybe that’s a life lesson that goes beyond milling lumber.”

One day in December, Clark brought his sawmill to Allendale’s 120-acre, wooded campus. He cut several downed white oaks into slabs, while the wood shop students cleaned, transported and stacked the slabs in preparation for the next step: curing them in Allendale’s new kiln.

The kiln, a large space filled with fans and dehumidifiers that dry out the wood, was funded through a grant provided by the Grace Bersted Foundation, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee. The grant also provided for initial supplies needed to get the program running.

Days after the event, students were still talking about it and itching to get their hands on the wood. Since then, they’ve used it to make several pieces of furniture and decorative home signs. Clark is slated to share tips and techniques in upcoming classes.

As the students’ skills advance, Serdar said, they’ll start building more elaborate tables, shelving and benches, as well as cutting boards, Charcuturie platters and decorative wood signs.

Some of the benches will be placed around campus and donated to the village of Lake Villa. In addition, creations will be sold at Allendale’s community craft and floral sales, perhaps as early as spring.

The proceeds will not only fund the purchase of ongoing supplies, but benefit the students’ vocational stipends. Meanwhile, as salvaged wood products become increasingly popular, the kids are gaining the skills to secure a place in this growing field, along with an appreciation for the environment and a lifelong passion that will serve them well.



Sculptor Adds Urban Wood to Her Palette

Chicago-area artist Margot McMahon’s works have been exhibited far and wide. Her sculptures can be found among private collections around the globe as well as the Smithsonian, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago Historical Society, Chicago Botanical Gardens, and Yale University to name a few.

According to her website, McMahon typically models in clay then casts in metal or concrete, welds in steel and carves in stone. But she also has had opportunity to use urban wood as her medium. Indeed, the carvings adorning this post utilized a 300-year-old maple tree that was downed in a 2011 wind storm.

Responding to an email seeking more information about the tree, McMahon replied, “The maple was in our backyard and on Lake Michigan a sailboat measured 103 mph wind (gusts). The wind came across Wisconsin and traveled along the bird flyway. It hit The Garfield Park Conservatory and broke every rooftop window. I was at an environmental meeting at the Oak Park Library when I saw the sky go dark and suggested we leave our meeting early. I texted the family to stay where they were and wait out the storm.”

McMahon said she had the tree cut into carvable sizes. Some of the log sections were 3 to 4 feet in diameter. “I found carving a 300-year-old tree meaningful,” she said.

McMahon’s local urban wood connections include serving on the Outdoor Committee of Chicago Sculpture International. CSI collaborates with the Chicago Park District on the The Chicago Tree Project to give “sick and dying trees a second life as a work of vibrant public art.” Her contributions to the Tree Project includes Perch – Preen, a dying ash tree turned artwork in Hale Park.

Learn more about Margot McMahon.

See related article about 2019 Chicago Tree Project.

 



Retired Teacher Focuses on Growing Urban Wood Business

After retiring last spring from a distinguished teaching career that spanned 33 years, Steve Skorup has decided to dedicate more time to harvesting urban trees to make furniture and other wood products.

Skorup spent most of his teaching career at Waubonsie Valley High School where he taught technology and engineering education. Among his many honors, Skorup was named 2003 Illinois Drafting Educators Association Teacher of the Year, 2007 ITEA Teacher of the Year and twice chosen as SkillsUSA Advisor of the Year. He also coached wrestling for 24 years and was nominated IWCOA Assistant Wrestling Coach of the Year.

A resident of Sandwich, IL, Skorup operates SAWINC. It’s a company he launched while attending high school. His company specializes in harvesting trees to make wood products including live-edge tables, cutting boards and furniture.

“I have done woodworking since I was in high school in Lockport,” Skorup wrote in an email. “I have had my company SAWINC since high school when a friend and I formed a small cabinet making enterprise. My interest in urban wood utilization began about five years ago when Brandon Dobnick, a neighbor, began working for Morton Arboretum and was taking down trees on the side. He now has his own business, Dobnick Timberworks/Vertical Solutions. We started with one walnut tree and a table project he wanted to do and from there we started acquiring trees, doing some work while waiting for me to retire from teaching and dedicate more time to the business.

“We started with Brandon’s chain saw mill but also hired a Wade Ellis out of West Chicago who had a Wood-Mizer sawmill when we had a big pile we needed milled,” he continued. “We’ve acquired trees from some area tree services, towns, school districts, or we cut our own. I have been storing up slabs for four years and am looking forward to making some more products moving forward.”

Notable sources of logs have included the Morton Arboretum’s prairie restoration along the DuPage River, trees downed by a tornado in 2015 at the Woodhaven Lakes campground and a pair of American elms from the Frank Lloyd Wright home and studio in Oak Park. Skorup noted that the trees he salvaged from the tornado scene represented a mere handful of the number that were felled. “So many of the trees were just ground to mulch in the clean-up effort,” Skorup said.

“My Frank Lloyd Wright live edge table won a Blue Ribbon at the Sandwich Fair last year,” Skorup added. “I try and use all pieces of the tree – serving boards, Poppe blocks for my grandchildren, outdoor ash benches, etc.”

Skorup says he plans to build a website for his business. In the meantime, he can be contacted at sawinc.skorup@gmail.com.



AUG UPDATE: House Supports Urban Forestry Funding

Riverside-Urban-Oak-Table209214Things weren’t looking so good for Urban and Community Forestry (U&CF) programs when President Trump unveiled his 2018 budget zeroing out funding. But the House of Representatives has picked up the pieces and allocated $27.3 million to support the health of our nation’s urban forests. That’s a handful of sawdust relative to the overall $4 trillion budget, but welcomed nonetheless by the agencies throughout the United States and its territories.
Continuation of U&CF funding still requires support of the U.S. Senate. As you can read in this month’s Illinois Urban Wood Update, the Sustainable Urban Forestry Council and the National Arbor Day Foundation’s Alliance for Community Trees Program have been rallying support to lobby the Senate to maintain funding. You can also watch an on-demand webinar explaining what’s at stake and how to get involved.
Speaking of involved, the Village of Riverside showed its support of the Chicago area’s urban wood movement. Village officials gave their blessing to have a 160-year-old oak tree downed in a March storm repurposed into a trio of desks for the village hall. Kudos to Riverside Forester Michael Collins for seeking and winning the support of elected officials. I had a chance to meet with Michael, Dan DeSerto of Bull Valley Hardwood, which milled the log, and Paul Meyers of Woodstock Woodworks, who expertly crafted the pieces. I’ll be writing a story for a national woodworking trade publication for the time being, check out the Riverside-Brookfield Landmark’s report.
Need a break from reading? Check out the video that shows how Indy Urban Hardwood utilizes its portable sawmill to salvage fallen and diseased urban trees in Indianapolis. It’s Episode One of Wood-Mizer’s new Urban Sawmill series.
And don’t forget to send us your urban wood news, stories, events and more.
Until next month, enjoy!
Rich Christianson
Communications Director
Illinois Wood Utilization Team

READ THE AUGUST

ILLINOIS URBAN WOOD UPDATE



160-Year-Old Oak Tree Begets Three Tables for Riverside’s Village Hall

urban wood

Paul Meyer of Woodstock Woodworks, left; Jessica Frances, Riverside village manager; Dan DeSerto of Bull Valley Hardwood; and Michael Collins, Riverside village forester, pose with one of the three trustee tables crafted from a 160-year-old oak tree.

Three custom tables, crafted from the wood of an estimated 160-year-old oak tree downed in a March 2016 storm, were delivered earlier this month to the Riverside village hall.

The story of the tree’s transformation into the trustee tables, was chronicled by the Riverside-Brookfield Landmark. Three key players of the project included Michael Collins, village forester of Riverside; Dan DeSerto, owner of Bull Valley Hardwood; and Paul Meyer, owner of Woodstock Woodworks & Studio Ltd.

Collins was inspired to have the old oak made into something after it was bowled over by a wind storm in March 2016. He sought and got the blessing and backing of Riverside Village Manager Jessica Frances and the village board of trustees. Collins called DeSerto of Bull Valley Hardwoods to mill a 30-inch–diameter  log from the tree and dry the lumber it yielded. DeSerto recommended local custom woodworker Paul Meyers to create the Prairie-style furniture.

The story also gives a shout out to Edith Makra and the Illinois Utilization Team.

Read the full article.

 



IllinoisUrbanWood’s Top 10 Countdown

By Rich Christianson

The eyes have it!

The final votes are in and the Top 10 most-viewed posts on IllinoisUrbanWood.org are known.

Activity on the Illinois Urban Wood Utilization Team’s website finished 2016 with 7, 349 visitors who clicked through 17,412 pages. Both of these totals are more than double that of 2015.

Here’s a quick reverse-order recap of the most popularly viewed posts last year.

10. Video: Tom The Sawyer Mills Black Walnut for Figure
Tom Hogard, aka Tom The Sawyer, of Eudora, KS, demonstrates how to maximize the figure of logs with “flaws” including sweep or crotches. Read more.

9. Woodworking Enthusiasts Get a Taste of Urban Wood
Woodworkers of all ages get an opportunity to craft products from wood salvaged from Chicago Park District trees. Read more.

8. Historic Bell Tolls for Urban Wood Display
Jeff Perkis used red oak milled from one of the downed trees to create a display stand for a historic train bell. It will become a permanent exhibit at the West Chicago City Museum. Read more.

7.  Illinois Sawmill Directories Updated
The Forestry Division of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources recently released a pair of newly updated sawmill directories, one featuring custom sawyers and the other dedicated to stationary sawmilling operations. Read more.

6. Passions Flow at IWF Urban Wood Seminar
Three presenters – representing three very diverse business models – chorused their praise for urban wood during a unique seminar held Aug. 26 at the International Woodworking Fair in Atlanta. Read more.

5. Diverse Audience Unites at Urban Wood Event
Arborists, foresters, sawyers, architects, woodworkers and other professionals came together at the Bringing the Urban Wood Full Circle Conference to learn and share ideas for propelling the urban wood market. Read more.

4. Couple ‘Sacrificed Our Entire Lives’ for Urban Wood Business
Rob and Zoe Bocik left the 9-to-5 rat race six years ago to pursue their dream of milling lumber and crafting furniture, jewelry and other products from local trees otherwise destined for the chipper or landfill. Read more.

3. Arborist Pursues His Passion with Urban Wood Start-up
Dobnick Timberworks has joined the Illinois urban wood  movement, opening up a lumber and custom wood products business in Oswego, IL. Read more.

2. Urban Wood Products Showcase Winners Strut Their Stuff
The Urban Wood Products Showcase, featured at the March 2016 Bringing the Urban Forest Full Circle Conference, shined a bright spotlight on the design creativity of the entries that ranged from tables and wall hangings to a bell stand and soccer ball all crafted from urban wood. Read more.

1. First Release: Urban Wood User’s Resource Guide
A new national directory dedicated to helping connect tree care professionals, sawyers, woodworkers and other urban wood enthusiasts was recently released by the Urban Forest Full Circle Network. Read more.



Urban Lumber Company Thrives on KC Woods

urban-lumber-company-timberking-sawmillUrban Lumber Company has been giving a large quantity and wide variety of felled and fallen trees in and around Kansas City a second chance since 2005.

As of October 2016, Urban Lumber Company’s website claims it has recycled a total of 638,062 pounds of wood and sawn 90,886 board feet.

As owner Tim O’Neill told the Kansas City Star in an article published April 8, “There’s a unique and wild look to this lumber, particularly in the variety of species found around town.” Woods cited in the articled include ash, elm, hickory, locust, maple, mulberry, oak, pecan, sweet gum, sycamore, tree of heaven and walnut.

O’Neill, a former exhibition designer, was inspired to found Urban Wood Lumber after having a hackberry tree downed by an ice storm sawed into logs. “I’d been spending lots of money on lumber, and all of a sudden I had a large pile. It was super cheap and easy to find, since dead trees are everywhere. It was interesting to work with, too,” he told the Star.

O’Neill processes logs on a TimberKing sawmill and also invested in a dry kiln. Customers include local custom woodworkers, homeowners and woodworking hobbyists.

Visit Urban Lumber Company’s website.