Friday, 30 May 2014

The Bloodwood Tree

I wonder why it's called a 'Bloodwood' tree ?

Below is a picture of the Bloodwood tree (Pterocarpus angolensis) it is a deciduous, spreading and slightly flat-crowned tree with a high canopy. It reaches about 15 metres in height, has dark bark and is native to southern Africa. Bloodwood is also a name given to a native Australian variety (Corymbia Terminalis) and a genus of plants in the mulberry family (Brosimum Rubescens) native to tropical regions of the Americas and used for decorative woodworking.

Bloodwood tree (Pterocarpus angolensis)
Pterocarpus angolensis is a kind of teak native to southern Africa, known by various names such as Kiaat, Mukwa, and Muninga. It is also called the Bloodwood tree, so named for the tree’s remarkable dark red coloured sap. A chopped trunk or a damaged branch of the tree starts dripping deep red fluid, almost like a severed limb of an animal. The sticky, reddish-brown sap seals the wound to promote healing.

The red sap is used traditionally as a dye and in some areas mixed with animal fat to make a cosmetic for faces and bodies. It is also believed to have magical properties for the curing of problems concerning blood, apparently because of its close resemblance to blood. The tree is also used for treating many medical conditions such as ringworm, stabbing pains, eye problems, malaria, blackwater fever, stomach problems and to increase the supply of breast milk.

The wood makes high-quality furniture, as it can be easily carved, glues and screws well and takes a fine polish. It shrinks very little when drying from the green condition, and this quality, together with its high durability, makes it particularly suitable for boat building, canoes and bathroom floors.
Because of its great value to the indigenous peoples of the central and southern Africa, these trees are being harvested at an unsustainable rate leading to its decline in recent decades.

Watch the video below of the sawing of a Bloodwood tree.


Friday, 23 May 2014

Wooden Floors Outdoors

Being Fashionably Late Has Been Fashionable for Some Time
Wood floors go back to before the turn of the century and were installed outdoors.  Apparently if you were fashionably late to the opera house the sound of horse and carriage on the pavement was audible inside and caused a distraction.
End Grain Wooden Cobblestones. Photo courtesy Giorgio Verdiani.

Knowing that people would always be turning up fashionably late, these cobblestone wood floors were installed to deaden the sound of hoofs and carriages outside the opera thus making a late appearance less noticeable.  So much for a grand entrance.

End Grain Wood Cobblestones in a Running Bond Pattern. Photo courtesy of seoulrider.

The basic theory of Wood Block Flooring is centuries old. The ancients used the end grain of logs as “chopping blocks” because the tough end grain surface could withstand the pounding of hammers without splintering. End Grain blocks were once used out of doors as street pavers. For generations, wood blocks served the needs of city streets in Europe and in the United States, many of which still exist today. Edgar Allen Poe wrote an article in 1845 about street paving in Baltimore: “It is generally admitted, we believe, that as long as they last, the wood block pavements have an advantage over all others. They occasion little noise, they save a great deal of horsepower, pleasant to the hoof, and thus save the health of the horse-as well as some twenty or thirty per cent in the wear and tear of vehicles-and as much more, in time, to all travelers through the increased rapidity of passage to and fro”.

Hexagon End Grain Wood Floors. Photos courtesy of Kara Brugman.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Bent Bamboo Bicycle

This bicycle is made from sustainable bamboo material and was designed by Alexander Vittouris, a design student at Australia’s Monash University. The young designer envisions a bicycle that isn’t built, but rather “grown” – the bent stalks are formed into the smooth curves gradually, while the bamboo stalk grows. (a concept that is inspired by ‘arborsculpture’ – the process in which tree branches are fixed into shapes as the tree grows). Vittouris has named the bamboo bike the “Ajiro”, It was in the running for various sustainable design awards in 2011 but as far as I can tell is still only in the prototype stage.

The manufacturing idea made Mr Vittouris a finalist for the James Dyson Award 2011, part of the Australian International Design Awards.
He said the bamboo frame would be fitted with other eco-friendly parts to make a functioning vehicle.
"It is a total rethink of how the manufacturing process works," Mr Vittouris, who designed the tricycle as part of a masters project, said.
"This concept is green and clean because the plant does all the work - the plant also acts as carbon storage and it eventually composts back into the soil."

Friday, 2 May 2014

Piano Tree

California state University, Monterey Bay  "Piano Tree"  in a forested area on their Disc Golf course.  A living installation by artist Jeff Mifflin.

Although the piano itself is believed to be just a stage prop which was cut apart then placed around the tree behind the California State University music department by artist Jeff Mifflin, the tree carried on growing and parting the timber of the piano for some time until a drunkard decided to smash it up.
Watch a video of an interview with Jeff Mifflin here.