Hi Everyone,.. I got back from Italy a few days ago and completely refreshed mentally and physically… and inspired for new work. I haven’t been in Italy for almost a decade, but this time, being so much more aware and alive in my art and woodworking career and knowledge… I saw Italy in a whole new way.. with my hands, my heart and my soul. Being in a place of such rich ancient history, how the people live on their soil… the importance of family and history and resources… This trip I was so much more aware of it all.
It was NOT America. :) though I absolutely love this country, it’s abundance and it’s beauty. Our history can not be taken away or remade, and I realized … or italy verified my opinion … that we, the craftsmen and artists, record cultural history. I believe it is our responsibility to our resources and history to leave a truth behind. That out hands, our sculptures, our paintings, our furniture should reflect and capture America.. in it’s all it’s good and bad.
I discovered two things about Northern Italy that will stay in my perspectives of America.
1) Craftsmen/Tradesmen are the cultural back bone: Every village, every home, every business makes relationships with one or two other service or trade. It is people to people.. person to person.. not money or politics that make it work there. There are one or two window makers in an area… who does EVERYONES windows. One or two butchers that are your loyal friends. One or two places to get wine for your restaurant. In a place where they have limited resources, social bonds are THE most important thing for security.
2) They have potential wood resource problems, like we may face here: Asian insects are destroying the chestnut trees. Climate change is affecting them directly, in farming and diseases. Wood is a finite resource and is seriously managed and cared for. Fires are a serious fear … and the cost of importing wood is not even a feasible for them … and exporting is forbidden. Limited resources have made a culture of responsibility and creativity to keep a harmonious culture and this is hard for a people who refuse to be forced to change. They know their world is changing and want to do something … but they won’t pay taxes and distrust a corrupt government. The opinion seems that everyone can care for themselves and do what they please as long as harmony is maintained. The grass seemed greener (it was hard to come back here), but the humans are the same.
But the most important reason for this blog entry…. STONE PINE TREES
I was astounded by the Stone Pine trees… here in Lumber Jocks I have always been emphatic that Gymnosperms do not have tension based cell structure. Yes, during drying conifer woods can develop tension stress, but they do not grow using tension. I am utterly confused by this tree and it invoked the obsessive scientist in me. Here they were the tallest and most twisting trees with a plume of needles only at the top. Sure trees that develop flowers need more sunlight and grow canopies rather than conical branches … and true the Stone Pine has been so cultivated over the last 6,000 years that no natural growth areas are known to exist…. but how do they grow like that??? I thought at first I would have to eat my crow about tension wood, but I am not so sure one way or the other. Another great thing about America.. we study everything… I could find no resources in Italy on thier trees.. and it seem no one cares how they grow only that they look great and produce pine nuts.
After researching for days now… I think I can only extrapolate from the Pinyon Pine trees, which Americans have studied down to the cell structure. This is only what I think I know so any botanists out there .. please help.
Pinyon pines do not have tension cell structures.. no fibers or specialized parenchyma cells, but they do have elongated tracheid cells which are open ended and filled rigid with resin. And use a stacking method of dead branch stems to support other branches…. Can this possibly let a tree grow over 50 ft tall and twist with really long branches and NOT crack at a crotch?? The Stone Pines were easily twice the size of pinyon pines here in the US. OR am I ignorant of a cell structure that does have tension?? Anybody?
-- " 'Truth' is like a beautiful flower, unique to each plant and to the season it blossoms ... 'Fact' is the root and leaf, allowing the plant grow and bloom again."