The Eastern White Pine Christmas Tree Tradition

white pine christmas tree

It’s that time of year again! The Eastern White Pine tree is best known for its beauty in the landscape and its unique suitability to all sorts of building and crafting purposes. But did you know it’s one of the nation’s most popular choices as a Christmas tree, too?

Many people simply head out to a Christmas tree lot and pick the tree that speaks to them, and that’s a great way to do it. Sometimes a particular tree just speaks to you! But it’s cool to know about the differences between varieties, because they’ll determine how long your tree lasts and how it will look once decorated.

The largest pine in the United States, the Eastern White Pine has a luxuriously full shape and soft, feathery needles that won’t prick you as you transport it and add ornaments. It has a beautiful but light aroma, so it won’t overwhelm your space or irritate those prone to allergies.

eastern white pine wreath

Some farms shear their Eastern White Pine Christmas trees into a more even conical shape, producing a beautiful result, but it’s good to know that sheared trees can result in a needle density that makes ornaments difficult to see. The light branches of this tree are best suited to smaller, lighter weight ornaments, as well as garlands strung along the outside of the tree. It’s also ideal for wreaths, garlands and swags.

One of the biggest bonuses to choosing an Eastern White Pine as your Christmas tree is the fact that, if it’s kept watered properly, it will retain its needles longer than average, and remain less of a fire hazard, especially if you use LED lights.

A beloved landscape tree, the Eastern White Pine can also be grown in your yard. Consider staggering plantings so you have an appropriately sized tree each holiday season to light up and decorate, whether you cut it down to bring it inside or leave it in place to grow tall and mighty.

Wondering about the history of Christmas celebrations in the United States? You might be surprised to learn that in the early days of colonial settlements, Christmas was unpopular with everyone but poorer fishing communities, who celebrated it with gusto. According to the New England historical society, the Puritans were scandalized by all the feasting, drinking, wassailing and serious demands for figgy pudding.

Christmas didn’t develop into the “wholesome” celebration it is today until the 1800s. Believed to originate in Germany in the 1600s, the Christmas tree was still an oddity here at the time, brought to the states by German immigrants in Pennsylvania. It didn’t really catch on until Queen Victoria made it popular in England, and the practice spread to the East Coast in the ensuing decades.

Wreath image via Woodies Garden Goods

Carved Japanese Chapel is a Masterwork of Intricate Wooden Design

japanese wooden carved chapel 1

Beautifully carved wooden elements have been common in architecture for millennia, including the antique Eastern White Pine columns, capitals, corbels and other millwork and decorative trim found in so many colonial homes. These flourishes are typically used sparingly, so seeing them take center stage in incredibly intricate interiors makes quite an impact. Check out this gorgeous wedding chapel, located at the Ana Crowne Plaza Hotel in Hiroshima, Japan.

japanese wooden carved chapel 2

Nikken Space Design collaborated with a kimono designer to come up with the botanical patterns lining the walls and ceiling of the chapel, containing its rows of pews within a shell of lace-like wooden lattice. The complex design is supported by an arched framework measuring 20 feet high by 62 feet long.

japanese wooden carved chapel 3 japanese wooden carved chapel 4

100 hand-carved wooden panels bear the patterns illustrated by the kimono designer, including leaves, flowers, butterflies and billowing clouds. When sun streams in through the floor-to-ceiling window connecting the pulpit to the garden outside, it projects the pattern onto the floor.

japanese wooden carved chapel 5

“Hiroshima is often known for the ‘Genbaku Dome’ and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, and one of the most popular destinations for overseas tourists to Japan,” say the architects. “For this reason, in planning the chapel, we were highly conscious of the fact that we were not simply designing as a commercial facility but a showcase that would let the rest of the world know about Japan’s peaceful spirituality, history, traditional arts and crafts, and its refined workmanship.”

japanese wooden carved chapel 6

We’d say that goal has been achieved! This chapel is unforgettable, and it’s easy to see why couples would be eager to book it as the setting for their wedding ceremonies. It would be great to see similar woodworking trends catching on in the States, marrying traditional craftsmanship and American motifs with contemporary architecture. (Hint: Eastern White Pine would be an ideal material for this!)

Timber Tech: Even Gadgets Can Be Made of Wood!

timber tech main

Who says gadgets have to be made from throwaway, environmentally unfriendly plastics? Just as with furniture, decor, household items and even architecture, they’ll last longer – and look a lot more beautiful – when they’re hand-crafted from high quality wood. Timber tech might seem like a gimmick upon first glance, but it’s actually a step in a more sustainable direction, and these gorgeous items are just as functional as their more conventional counterparts.

wooden keyboard wooden track pad

Take for example this multitouch trackpad and numerical keyboard, each constructed from a single piece of wood. Compatible with any Mac OS, Windows 7 or 8 computer, these items connect wirelessly via Bluetooth and are available at the Design Boom store.

timber tech speaker

The wooden Tok Tok ‘Trobla’ speaker consists of a system of detachable wooden pieces designed to fit different generations of iPhones and other smartphones. You simply insert your phone in the top, and the sound is amplified through a special chamber that enhances the stereophony and low frequencies.

wooden boombox

Maybe you can’t actually push any of the buttons or adjust the other ‘controls’ laser-engraved onto this fun wooden boombox, but you don’t need to – you control it through your phone or computer. Connect via Bluetooth or 3.5mm audio input to project sound through two 3-inch full-range speakers.

Wood Innovations: Beautiful Uses for Textile-Like Timber Skin

wood skin 1

What would you create with a flexible wooden material that can be wrapped around objects or manipulated into shape like a piece of fabric? The faceted panels of ‘wood skin,’ a composite material that’s redefining the possibilities of wood, enable it to bend and fold in extraordinary ways. Applied to a textile backing, the geometric pieces of wood in various shapes and sizes hinge at desired points for virtually limitless applications.

wood skin 2 wood skin 3 wood skin 4

Created by a design team in Milan using specially-created software, the revolutionary material creates a high-end modern aesthetic, whether it’s applied to surfaces or bunched up into sculptural ceiling installations or freestanding structures. The design enables vertical and horizontal 3D surfaces, volumes and panels.

Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 7.41.41 PM Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 7.41.48 PM Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 7.42.06 PM

The multi-toned walls at Dubai’s Reign Restaurant are particularly stunning, showing the material in action as partition walls, curtains and cladding. There’s also an acoustic version called ‘sound-skin’, shown here at the On-House Home Theatre in Milan.

wood skin 5 wood skin 6

Want to play around with it yourself? You can order sample packs at the Wood Skin website.

Amazing Wood Creations: Japanese Chapel Lined with Hand-Carved Lattice Panels

wooden japanese chapel

Beautifully intricate hand-carved wood tends to be utilized sparingly, in details like fireplace surrounds, railings, room screens and other decorative touches, but when it takes the main stage, it really shines. One stunning example can be found at the Ana Crowne Plaza Hotel in Hiroshima, Japan by Nikken Space Design, a space integrating Japanese wedding traditions with an emphasis on nature.

wooden japanese chapel 2 wooden japanese chapel 3 wooden japanese chapel 4

The artists translated designs often seen on kimonos into a pattern for an arching lattice structure creating a canopy roof over the chapel, enhancing its feeling of sacredness and serenity. Measuring twenty feet high and 62 feet long, the interior ceiling is comprised of 100 large hand-carved wooden panels featuring true emotions.

wooden japanese chapel 5 wooden japanese chapel 6

The panels represent a single tree arching over the guests as they sit at the pews in the chapel, with roots running to meet the floor, trunks stretching up the sides and individual branches sprouting leaves and flowers overhead. The wood was left unpainted to celebrate its natural beauty.

Molding as Modern Decor: More Creative Uses for Pine Products

molding decor

Got a bunch of scraps of pine molding laying around that are too short to use? Don’t toss them away – they have the potential to be all sorts of things, from pendant lamps to pencil holders, as proven by the ‘Molding Plan’ project by designer Chialing Chang. The natural contours of these products make for surprisingly elegant decorative objects when they’re cut apart and glued back together in unexpected ways.

molding decor 2

The Taipei-based designer noticed that the arc and beveled edge on a piece of molding, designed to conceal its mounting, have a contemporary value outside of their original intended purpose. Chang used three different kinds of molding to produce containers, hanging lamps and desktop organizers.

molding decor 3

The containers are made of molding pieces cut into 45- and 60-degree angled segments and then reassembled to create stackable vessels. Ogee molding adds a visual flair to pendant lamps that’s simultaneously traditional and modern, and is also hollowed out and stacked to any height desired for corralling small items like pens, tape and rulers.

molding decor 4

Not only can innovative adaptive reuse projects like this one inspire individual homeowners and woodworkers to approach timber products from a fresh perspective, it can also be a boost to the entire industry.

“The whole series are manufactured by wood craftsmen in Ningxia Road in Taipei City, Taiwan,” says Chang. “The street, where the wood industry and resources gather, has gradually declined under the impact of international economic downturn. Huge accumulated stocks of moldings are kept in local lumber shops. Molding Plan utilizes plentiful resources of an age-old place in Taipei City as well as gathering people’s attentions to the traditional woodworking industry.”