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Grow your own chairs !

 
David Livingston
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How to grow your own chairs and tables too

What a cool idea http://www.bbc.com/news/business-33161109





Now we could have permi furniture

David
 
David Livingston
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More pics here the writing is french but its self explanitory . I think permies could do this no problem
http://dupurgenie.com/2015/10/gavin-munro-lhomme-qui-fait-pousser-une-foret-de-chaises-2/
 
Chadwick Holmes
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My worry and I think my point of view on this is that this is high on the " making nature our bitch" scale, I personally would prefer to let the tree live without all that and then build a chair from the wood in traditional manners.

That's not to say it isn't right for others, just that I couldn't get onboard, it is interesting though
 
leila hamaya
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i really like this sort of thing, and have wanted to do some kinds of projects like this, only never harvest them and keep them alive.

theres some people out there doing stuff like this, but i havent seen someone do it and then cut it up and sand it, like that guy did. the ones i have seen, they are kept alive, even when "finished" and then replanted in the new spot after being sold. actually i know someone, an artist, who makes and sell living willow chairs, and they are kept alive and then meant to be planted.

i am particularly fascinated with the idea of using similar methods to make walls/privacy screens, as potentially non load bearing building elements...but i suppose thats a bit different. theres some great examples of people doing stuff like this.

heres an example, with prunus cerasifera...these people are some of the most well known who do this sort of thing...

http://pooktre.com/
Person-tree.jpg
[Thumbnail for Person-tree.jpg]
 
David Livingston
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Hi Chad
I hear what you are saying but might it be better to compare like with like . The other alturnative is either cut down tree in to small bits burn the waste transport big bits to factory chop up smaller make chair using glue and toxic gunk and then transport to shop . This way seems to be more organic and local plus you can feed the waste to the goat

David
 
Chadwick Holmes
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That's a great point David......hmmmmmm

Good chair makers don't use glue, but that's a small part in the whole thing.

I wonder how many years a tree lives vs getting to make it to maturity

A mature tree will give minimum of ten chairs if sawmilled efficiently

Is the rootstock used more than once, if so that would be a huge plus

Just some of my thoughts, my biggest consternation though is premature harvest, if it were a spotted fawn instead of a baby tree would we feel the same?

 
Thekla McDaniels
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Hi Chad,
One of the films shows a coppiced tree with shoots coming from the cambium. The narrator says here is a coppiced tree, and here are the new shoots... and he shows the new shoots as the beginning of the project. Based on that I'd say yes, they use the root stock more than once.

With coppicing, in the winter when the tree is dormant, you cut a tree off a foot or two above the soil, ( use the wood how ever you want to) and in the spring, it grows lots of shoots, long and straight, because of how much energy was stored by the tree last season before it was coppiced. I always imagine that the tree goes to sleep a big tree, and in the spring, it remembers how big it was and sets out to become that big again. Coppicing was used for eons as a quickly renewable wood source, used for any number of things. Same trees coppiced over and over for decades if not centuries.

Thekla
 
Rebecca Norman
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I've always been charmed by this, and often think of doing it, though I never have. I don't think it's meant as a replacement for normally made chairs, it's an art form. We pollard our willows on a regular basis (much like the coppicing mentioned above) and they grow back very vigorously, and I often think of doing something with them, maybe making two graft into an arch, or make a little treehouse platform, or something. I think of it as fiddling lovingly with trees. I don't think it hurts them, and if it charms the artist and some viewers, what's the harm?
 
David Livingston
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I feel that the two films make it clear that they are meant to be used as chairs and tables as well as look good

David
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Sorry, but I don't like this 'orchard' full of plastic molds to force the trees into the wanted shapes
 
David Livingston
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I accept that is an issue but they dont have to be plastic I am sure you could use other material . I was thinking bamboo
 
Chadwick Holmes
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Ok, I had no experience with coppicing, it sounds like reverse air layering to me....

I suppose I could be persuaded if they were grown around in a landscape and not in rows, part of it does look like a torture dungeon from a monte Python film though......
 
David Livingston
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coppicing has been practiced for thousands of years check it out chad , along with pollarding .
I'm coppicing both willow and hazel here in france for Basket making
 
Chadwick Holmes
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Will do David!
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Well,it is kind of eerie to see the rows of plastic molds, but it's kind of "steam punk" in a way, and when I think of the alternatives, molded plastic chairs to sit on, trees that grow decades and centuries then run through the processing to become what ever, with a lot of waste, then it seems OK to me. It's not that I don't think trees are worthy of respect and an unhampered life, but this seems akin to pruning, and espallier-ing, (along with the pollarding and coppicing already discussed) and all the other ways we shape and form living plants.

Would I rather be a tree cut down and cut into sticks of dimension lumber, or grow my branches into particular shapes at "man's" bidding and those branches remain in the shape I grew, while I grow another and another and another chair or table or lamp, until it seemed a familiar cycle, and I knew with out their molds and shaping just how to wrap and self graft my branches?


I'd chose the long life doing "man's" bidding, all the while deep beneath the surface of the earth, my roots go their own ways, wrapping themselves around rocks, finding their way through crevices and, in growing thicker. causing the rocks to do MY bidding, cracking the crevice open. The opened crevice makes new minerals available for my friends the fungi and bacteria who feed me by making the rock do THEIR bidding, dissolving to feed my friends and me.

Sending my roots through the earth, I could graft to other roots I encounter, or not, if I don't like anything about their essence, living in secret and private community as part of the soil food web.

Yeah, I'd take that over the ultimate "harvest".

Anyway, I kind of like steam punk.

Thekla
 
matt hogan
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Apparently, the plastic molds are not his long term solution. From his website (http://fullgrown.co.uk/about/):
The (recycled) plastic moulds (same amount of corrugated light plastic used in about two ‘For Sale’ signs for a chair mould) were a prototype design. We’ve been reusing them as far as possible, and now we’re moving on to different formers, moulds and ways of constructing the grown chairs and furniture. Please be assured we aren’t pouring oil down the drain to produce this furniture!


In case anyone else is curious, it looks like they use willow.
 
Peter Ellis
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Four years to produce an oak chair. 2,500 pounds sterling for a chair, about 1,000 for a lamp. He hopes to one day have it be something that is affordable.

Think about how many chairs are made in a year and then think about how many acres of trees would need to be managed this intensively to produce enough chairs to have any impact in that volume.

Then, go take a look at how British bodgers work with coppiced wood to make chairs. No waiting for trees to reach "maturity" to be harvested and sawn into bits, rather it takes about as long as it does to grow the chairs in the OP for the coppice to come around to a suitable point to be harvested and made into chairs. Less waste than sawing up large trees and much less intensive management than is required with these "grown" chairs.

I see these as nothing more than a novelty for some wealthy people.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Yeah, more novelty than mass produced, but will they last longer, and be less likely to be thrown in the dump? Who knows?

Sad (IMO) to say, there are some who actually need to spend exorbitant amounts of money on things only a few can afford. For them, it is a matter of self definition and self worth. And it is what their money is for. This is why some people will not buy a bar of handmade soap for $7.00, but will pay $25.00 for the same bar of soap if it is in a little fancier packaging.

There is probably room for both the grown chairs and the coppiced wood chairs in this wide world. Maybe the income from the grown chairs supports the more "mundane" chairs of coppiced wood. I'd LOVE to have a hand made chair of coppiced wood, but probably can't afford that either. The grown chairs are the creation of an artist, and aside from the political and who's who forces in the art world, there are artists who must follow a creative impulse and process as it moves through them. Compared to glass blowing this is not particularly wasteful of resources.

We homesteaders could have a chair or table or two growing in our food forests without decreasing the productivity, if we just think of it as another kind of diversity and another source of future income, maybe the kids' college fund, a set of chairs growing out in zone 4 or 5. Why not? He has shown us how to go about it.
 
Sally Munoz
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Absolutely Thekla! These grown pieces of furniture are beautiful and many of us enjoy creating artistic features in our landscapes. I could totally see having a few projects like this growing and used for very special gifts or extra money/barter. We coppice hazel and locust and I have plans for a living willow fence in one area, mainly for aesthetics. I don't see the harm.
 
Chadwick Holmes
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Ok, I am won over, with doing only a couple in the landscape, I might even add that you could give the rootstock a rest and let it go through a season or two as a normal coppiced tree so the roots can regenerate and spread without the stress of the above ground damage.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Absolutely! Chad.
And there are plenty of great uses for high quality coppiced poles. The interesting thing is that when you coppice the tree during the dormant phase, you are not taking much from the tree, just the altitude gained by last years growth and the buds they made ready for spring growth, not the production capability that you take when you remove live greens during the growing season. It is the huge store of "food" underground over the winter that has to come up in the spring that makes the long straight growth. The tree roots put up those sprouts because the sap needs somewhere to go, and needs it now. When there are lots of side branches and lots of buds, the growth is spread among twigs over the whole tree, and you do not get those beautiful long straight pieces. When that surge of sap comes with warming soil in the spring, there is no preventing the formation of the new growth. I am curious now about what the traditional practice is. I know you have to let the tree get big enough that there is a large store of food underground before you coppice the tree, but I don't know if - given plenty of light and water and healthy roots - if the coppiced tree can be or even NEEDS to be cut every year. Maybe giving the tree a couple of seasons makes the poles better and maybe it makes them worse.

More research for me I guess!
 
Skip LaCroix
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I knew that I had seen something like this before somewhere and just had to find it again. It ended up being the same site that Leila Hamaya posted back on the 7th. Really cool concept and if that happens to be grown out of a fruiting tree I'd consider that a double whammy. I mean come on, you get to sit in your own yard and pluck fresh fruit out of the tree you are sitting in. It doesn't get much better than that. Now to make one that is a hammock.

http://pooktre.com/photos/living-chair/
 
Dale Hodgins
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Raccoons often shape inner branches of cedar trees, through their nesting activities. I don't think that they actually try to make hammocks, but they do break or chew away bits that obstruct access and they smooth out the lumpy bits. When pruning large hedges, I regularly come upon flattened and dish shaped branches that have been altered by wildlife.

I'm going to make a man nest, in a suitably thick cedar. I've done it many times, as a temporary measure, when I need a rest during an extended day of climbing. Just a few minutes with saw and twine, could turn the tops of many brushy trees into a living hammock. After cutting and tying, stray branches could be woven. Cedar is by far the best candidate in my area. It's usually pretty easy to create a living ladder and to stay relatively clean, while climbing in cedar.

If done in an exposed area, coons will probably not use it. The same hammock placed in a sheltered spot near a food source, would almost certainly become covered in coon shit where I live.
 
Rebecca Norman
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Thekla McDaniels wrote: I know you have to let the tree get big enough that there is a large store of food underground before you coppice the tree, but I don't know if - given plenty of light and water and healthy roots - if the coppiced tree can be or even NEEDS to be cut every year. Maybe giving the tree a couple of seasons makes the poles better and maybe it makes them worse.

More research for me I guess!


Here in this region the most commonly grown tree is willows, and everybody pollards them at or above head height because of the grazing animals. We don't pollard them every year, we leave them for two to four years, until the poles are big enough. My impression from the trees we've grown at our school is that when the trees are young, you have to wait for longer before the poles get to a good thickness, and as they get bigger and more vigorous, with bigger root systems and mature trunks, they get bigger much faster. We want them at 1.5 to 25 inches diameter and straight, for roofing sticks and planting new willows; thicker poles are useful for all kinds of other stuff, and we use them for, for example, greenhouse frames and tool handles. Different varieties sprout more vigorously or straighter than others, and as they get older and sprout more vigorously, the crowding tends to make the shoots straighter. When we want thinner sticks, for weaving into fences or panels, we can usually get enough thin side shoots growing below bigger poles.
 
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