True Natural Artwork as a Gift April 08 2014


The word or phrase 'functional art' is about as generous a compliment as one can grant to a made thing.  Our "Hats" embody the meaning of that phrase.  Combining the power of human inquiry and experimentation with the beauty and diversity of nature's materials to deliver a product that is at once both astonishing and elegantly simple.

As a gift they are the experience that those who are typically difficult to surprise or amaze are surprised and amazed by.

The story of each Tree Piece begins before we salvage the wood from an old farm tree that's died or a burly maple that been left to rot after a clearcut.  Of course, these pieces of wood were at a time part of the home for birds and squirrels or shade for generations of family gatherings.  Finding them and meeting the people and places they come from is always a great adventure to start them on the road to becoming a helmet.  

When we get to them we choose from the largest trees with the greatest character.  We look for the stuff that is far too pretty to be burned in a wood stove or fireplace, examining the wood for the best coloring and grain.  Cutting out stock blocks one by one with an old used up chainsaw.

To cure the wood each block is sealed across the end grain and stacked carefully with others from the same tree, This slow dry process and particular sealing regimen is one of only a few ways to guarantee against the large cracks and fissures that would otherwise corrupt the blocks. Each helmet is made into what it is via the tools of nature as much as it is through the tools in our shop.

When the day comes that a block is 'wedded' to its customer we have already begun the customization process.  The customer has already chosen the type of wood they want.  For each block we must re-calibrate the CNC router to unique mate the customer's size and shape with the dimensions of the block. Each block is tracked by the customer's name in sharpie on the inside.  In few other products and no other helmets is this degree of customization available. 

After a relatively quick roughing out machine process the helmet takes a basic shape and gets thinned down to a finely even, lightweight shell by repeated fine machining steps with a finish tool.  Slowly the final basic form of the helmet is arrived at.


With the machining process finished the piece is taken up by the artisan in the shop to be sanded and finely shaped by hand.  This tedious and painstaking process is where the creativity and imagination of the artisan builder reveals and gives extra character to the natural grain and color of the piece.  The artisan carefully drills the vent holes matching any customized requests from its owner.  Along the way it is not uncommon to lose helmets to small defects that can't be tolerated and have to start the process anew.

Finally the helmet is sealed and finished.  Sealed by hand with both an anti fragmentation coating on the inside and a bio based green epoxy resin on the outside.  This ensures water won't ever get in.  After sanding these surfaces smooth, again by hand, the pieces are sprayed with several topcoat layers a glossy, satin or matte finish.  At this point you have a true piece of original art that happens also to be a helmet shell!

And that only describes the work that goes into the shell.  The part that makes this piece of art functional, the honeycomb cork innards, the comfort padding and harness, are all done largely one at a time by hand.  This involves just as much meticulous, if less artistic, work as the shell.

And to top it off we send each one out in a handmade fleece helmet bag made right here in town.  Coolest bags we could ask for!  This is a can't go wrong sort of gift that one can display on their head as well as on the desk or wall.  It remains a beautiful inspiration wherever it lives.


And, HEY!  Sign up to win one