Working With Wood: Why Is The History So Important To Us?
There’s just something about the feel of the wood in your hands as you carefully sand and finish each bow tie… it’s more than just any old job. If you listen carefully, each piece of wood can tell you its own story with the marks along its edges and the knots and swirls that are a natural part of its structure.
From Whiskey Row, we use the wood of 150-year-old floor joists to build our wooden bow ties. These are giant pieces of wood, at least 4 inches thick, 12 inches across, and up to eight feet long; once you cut into it, though, you start to realize how time has taken its toll. The wood is soft to the touch, almost spongy, and can be dented with just the pressure of a fingernail. It takes very little sanding to achieve the desired shape for each piece of the bow tie, and the wood often takes up to seven coats of shellac finish material to regain its sturdiness.
The red oak reclaimed from Kentucky barns is another matter entirely. This wood was meant to last against all kinds of elements, and sanding these pieces takes significantly more patience (and elbow grease!) than those of Whiskey Row. The smell though… the smell definitely makes up for the wood’s stubbornness. If you can imagine standing in the middle of a freshly-cut field of tobacco in the height of the summer, that is what our red oak smells like.
Other woods in our shop also bring in particular smells. We have wood from inside the fermentation vessels of a whiskey distillery, and their smell is absolutely unmistakable! Even the wood from Faraway Farm, where champion racehorse Man o’ War had his stallion career, smells faintly of shavings and hay and other horse-barn scents.
Our wood represents stories – that’s what StoryWood Bowties is all about. We want to do more than preserve the physical representation of a famous place: we also want to preserve its living memory in the stories our customers tell about each wooden bow tie.
Wearing a StoryWood bow tie will draw the interest of almost any acquaintance, and it opens up an avenue for the wearer to share the history with others. It’s the way stories were passed down for generations across human history, and our sincere hope is that each wooden bow tie we sell helps to share a little bit of history with other people.
“History with its flickering lamp stumbles along the trail of the past, trying to reconstruct its scenes, to revive its echoes, and kindle with pale gleams the passion of former days.” ~Winston Churchill
“The challenge of history is to recover the past and introduce it to the present.” ~David Thelen
“A mere compilation of facts presents only the skeleton of History; we do but little for her if we cannot invest her with life, clothe her in the habiliments of her day, and enable her to call forth the sympathies of succeeding generations.” ~Hannah Farnham Lee, The Huguenots in France and America