The charcuterie boards, serving trays, cribbage boards, and most other things I create are made of antique wood, often from the 1800’s. I’m sometimes asked why I use it, given the time spent tracking it down, efforts to repair it, trying to keep prices low, and the added challenge of painting on an uneven surface. The short answer is, “because it’s so important to the product itself.”
New England Good Life’s products started off with reclaimed pallet boards. But the antique wood soon became a critical piece of the artwork. For example, a piece of wood from the 1860’s that was part of the wall of a porch was used to make several trays. Yes, it required time and effort just to find the wood. But this piece easily illustrates why antique wood is so meaningful.
Several days of repair were needed to make use of as much of this wood as possible. The original piece had witnessed so many days of families and friends sitting on the porch. They likely had plenty of laughs and probably some tears over the course of countless conversations. Pieces of their lives and relationships unfolded on that porch. Those lives ended long ago and became largely lost to history.
But using this wood is a way to preserve and even continue a small part of that. It gives the wood a new lease on life. That wood has great character; it isn’t planed smooth, which would make a charcuterie board easier to build and paint. Instead, I see what artwork the wood can enhance with its own natural beauty that took a century or longer to develop.
Cape Cod has a number of historic homes. As people remodel, parts of these homes can wind up being discarded. But the history that the wood has witnessed, the lives it’s been surrounded by, the character that the wood contributes, all make it worthwhile to spend the added time finding it, saving it, repairing it, and figuring out how it can add to the product itself and the moments of the people who use it.