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Marbling, or How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Poplar.

by Clare Fox |

About a year ago, we got a call from a local lumber mill about a load of off cuts that they were going to be throwing away.  Normally we deal with lumber from old houses, not lumber mills, but we're not the type to allow any type of wood to end up in a dumpster.

The next day, we showed up with our pickup truck, only to turn around immediately and go rent a car-hauling trailer.  This was a MASSIVE amount of lumber.  Massive.  They had to load it up with a forklift, strapped down with steel.  Wow.  We had no idea what we'd be doing with it, but knew we had to find a use. Here's a pic of Nino looking majestic yet tired on unloading day: Salvaged poplar lumber in the loading dock.

The next step: What to do with this wood.  It was mostly Poplar, in strips anywhere between 1-2" wide.  This was not in our wheelhouse.  

We love working with reclaimed wood. We love pulling up the flooring from an abandoned house, planing off 50 years of accumulated grime, carpet glue, and shellac, only to find beautifully figured Birdseye Maple, or Quarter Sawn Oak with iridescent ray flecks...the kind of stuff that doesn't exist anymore at any price.  

Poplar is not exactly that. Normally, it's sold as a "paint grade" hardwood. You'd buy it if you're on a budget, or if you know the guy at the Home Depot Paint Desk. It soaks up wood stain more than anything else we've used. Let's just say it's not the prettiest wood on the shelf.  It's great quality, strong stuff, it's just not a looker. sat on our shelf.  We used a bit of it here and there, for small personal projects, before realizing what this wood was meant to be.  Our first project using it was this bed: Reclaimed poplar bed, queen size

Our client wanted a subtle pattern, with a deep black black black finish.  Poplar's unique stain-soaking abilities were perfect!

Once we started working with this wood and not against it, we found that it was beautiful in it's own unique way.  

We knew that we wanted to make picture frames with it as well...we had been considering a line of smaller, skinnier frames for quite some time, and realized that this Poplar could be perfect.  We love working with color, and wanted to try something new.  

We didn't want the natural look of the Poplar (which, let's face it, is kind of boring), but also didn't want to be limited to solid colors...and then it hit us.  Let's not use one color, let's use all the colors!


Wooden Frame Marbling     Wooden Poplar Frame Marbling     Marbled Picture Frames

 It took a ton of research, a whole mess of experimentation, and lots of learning to find a technique that created the look we had envisioned. Once we had the technique down, there was another round of experiments to find the right colors and type of paint to use.  We wanted a durable long lasting finish with rich bright colors that would compliment your photos or artwork.  It took a while, but I think we hit the mark.

Our Hand Marbled collection is available in three color families.

Bright and Bold:

Black and White:


Click the images above to shop now...we think you'll love them!


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