Blog 2: Choosing Between Canadian Wood Species 

Sigrid smells woodFSC Denmark annually hosts a Design Award competition for Danish design and architecture students based on their use of wood and sustainable practices. The winner of the 2014 FSC Denmark Design Award, Sigrid Juel Jensen, has won a trip to Canada, where she will visit FSC-certified forests, develop a version of her winning design at a local workshop and get a close look at FSC and responsible forest management in Canada.

Jim Drescher co-founded Windhorse Farm more than 25 years ago. He shows us around his workshop, which smells of sawdust and wood and tools are tightly packed. It’s like a wooden wonderland filled with two floors of wood from Windhorse Farm’s FSC-certified forest.  Here Sigrid chooses which species she will use to recreate her design. Sigrid and Jim pull samples of wood off the shelves. "I thought I knew tree species pretty well, but when Jim began to show the many varieties they have here, I realized I did not. He really knows quite a bit about trees, “she says.

Sigrid chooses multiple species instead of just carrying out her design in a single species. She will make a version where the "arms" each have a different species of Canadian wood. This way, the recreated design will represent the forest's diversity.  See Sigrid’s winning design on her website .

Familiar, but different

Sigrid looks at the many pieces of wood laying in front of her. "It's funny how the species of wood, though I know several of them already, have many more patterns and variations than those we work with at school.  This Canadian maple is quite different from the one I know from home, which is much whiter” she says, adding "It is actually quite amazing that all these varieties come from the same forest. When I look around in the woods, I don’t think that I can see so many different ones”

The day progresses with the design. A variety of wood species have been tested and a single poplar is discarded because it was too soft. Sigrid threads in the pieces of wood that will become ‘arms’ before they are shaped. "This way it is more stable to work with," she says. However, there is a long way to a finished version.

Alone in the Woods at Night

In the evening Jim invites us on a night hike through the forest and we meet in the twilight at the edge of the forest. Jim starts a small fire and tells us that this trip should be about being present in the forest with yourself and to feel a connection to nature.  We have to be quiet throughout the trip and use our other senses, other than sight, to guide us and to experience the forest. The task is to follow Jim into the woods in a line, but with enough distance between each other that you can barely see the person in front of you. Further into the forest, we embark in the dark alone. 

"It was really a good experience," says Sigrid afterwards. "It was so interesting how senses are heightened when you do not have vision. It changes how you experience the forest.  "I feel a different sense of security by the woods here after this experience." 

After a few hours in the dark the hike ends in silence on a hilltop, where we see the full moon rises over the forest. Jim plays on one of the many Buddhist gongs hanging in the woods to signify the end of the hike. 

What’s next for Sigrid? 

Read blog # 3 where Sigrid learns the art of choosing a tree and how to manage a forest like a squirrel. 

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