Brands Lifestyle

Turning Grains Into Generations: Artisan Series V

Woodworking at Alasaw Sputnik Tables
Written by Julia Eden

We are disconnected. Living in a consumer-society has reduced our exposure to how we make products. In a continuing series, SoCo will bring you exposure: the art, the technique, the history that binds us. The small details that can make a thing more than it is. Reconnect to your past, the past of all of us, through the visual beauty of ancient art.

Woodworking With Cliff Spencer

A young boy looks, laughingly, directly into the camera. There’s mirth in his eyes, and wind-swept, apple cheeks show the rosy glow of weather and youth. A gift was given from father to son, mother to child, but he won’t receive it until he’s grown…For now, there’s something else there, something in that glimmering eye, something that looks, to me, like pride.

“The reason I started is the reason why anybody starts their own business, and it’s because they get the strong feeling that they know how to do everything better than someone else. And you can no longer work for anyone else.” – Cliff Spencer, Founder of Alasaw

Cliff Spencer and his wife Leigh threw the shackles of convention away, choosing a better life among the weeping trees of blossomed lanes in their hometown of Birmingham, Alabama. This nostalgic landscape is the place where they started Alasaw, a small woodworking company that focuses on the beauty of design through reclaimed nature. Electricity now powers the tools, but the hands that wield them haven’t changed in millennia. Calloused hands, rough with hard work, have earned the pride they command.

This Time, It’s Personal

Wooden furniture and accessories are everywhere in our world, surrounding our senses with mass-produced blank stares. I want nothing of this. My furniture interacts with my life, we tangle every day, and I am shaped by it, as it is shaped by those hands, calloused, rough, and full of pride. The intersection between human and machine can be divine; removing too much of either means compromising. Machines are shortcuts held together with glue and oil – lost is the magic. But without the machine, all you’ve sacrificed is time and symmetry. Perhaps the romance I’ve suffused into this story is giving you a cavity, but I don’t care; I want marvelous dreams in the heads of those who create for me, not ones and zeros.

Smiling eyes reveal the pleasure of pride and precision.

But Wait! There’s More

To read more about the Alasaw team, their commitment to craft and planet, check out my review of the company, including an interview with Managing Partner, Leigh Spencer.

We at SoCo believe that sustainability is not just a lifestyle – it is life. Working with the Earth, for the benefit of all, is tantamount to becoming the best society we can be. Perhaps modern technology has made things more comfortable, but it certainly does not always make them better. In this continuing series, we aim to highlight those artists and techniques that should not be forgotten. By remembering how we started, perhaps we can find a better way to move forward. Please let us know in the comments if there’s a particular artist or technique you would like to see highlighted, and don’t forget to check out the other Artisan Series posts you missed using this link.

About the author

Julia Eden

With a passion born in rivers, Julia Eden has spent the last decade crusading for the environment. Educated in fashion design and English Literature, and skilled in dance, she is dedicated to finding the information needed to live a new and better life. While not quite a Luddite, she would very much like to live in a cave with a wolf and an internet connection.

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