We have a stunning console table and a few other pieces (lamps, mirrors) made from beautiful grapevine. But what is the processes involved in making a piece of furniture from this 100 year old wood that would otherwise have been burned?
The wood used to make these bespoke tables, lamps, mirrors & candle holders comes from the South of France and is made from old grape vines.
The grape vine is approximately 100 years old and as a result of being pruned back each year, the wood becomes dense and tough, making it difficult to work.
While still in the ground any soft parts of the wood will usually decay or be cleaned out by insects and this together with weathering adds to its character.
Eventually the vine becomes unproductive and is removed, in most cases to be burnt as firewood or turned into charcoal.
The designer first discovered the natural beauty of the vine ‘souche’ while on holiday in the early 1990’s and decided that such interesting pieces of wood should be utilised and given a new lease of life.
The vinewood is treated for woodworm and other insect infestations and brought back to England where the real work begins.
It is labour intensive and starts with the thick outer layers of skin being removed to reveal the twists and turns of the gnarled surface of the wood beneath.
The precise methods and techniques have been learned over the last 25 years and vary depending on the required finish, but the wood will be worked and reworked many times before its final reincarnation.
In order to achieve the right result, the creative process entails visualising the likely shape and form of the end product and then making it a reality.
Tables are made by joining several vines together with metal rods in such a way that the joins are almost invisible to the eye.
The finishing process is almost limitless, with some wood being left entirely natural, and other pieces treated with colorant, oil, paint, wax or other products to achieve a particular effect and end result.
Because of its age and intense pruning each season, the wood becomes dense and heavy, yet unlike drift wood, it retains its strength and flexibility way after being removed from the ground and will last for many years to come.
Time wise, a lamp or mirror frame may take 15-20 hours to make, a small table 20-40 hours and a large coffee or full size dining table, in the region of 100 hours.
Occasionally, Olive wood is used and it is treated in similar fashion, although it is more difficult to obtain, being at least 400-500 years old and rarely uprooted.