My company, Empatika, works with people like John Waller to offer our customers options for pull out willow storage baskets that are both beautiful and useful for storing your belongings while knowing that you are contributing to local British crafts and encouraging the best sustainable forestry practises by using such natural and healthy materials in your fitted furniture.
John, makes baskets and willow work, wood turning, chair making and many other skills using wood from forests he has been managing for over 20 years in Sussex, “he says no I am a traditional craftsmen and I am happy living and making my furniture, baskets etc and just been able to do what I love as a craft without having to take it any further than that.”
John holding his basket made of wood from the Willow tree. (Photo by Tristan Titeux)
“the way he looks after his forests the F#C dream about”
What he does is beautiful in the way that he is content with his life, he loves wood, trees, living and working close to nature, he understands what nature has to offer and how to use wood in a sustainable way. His wood is not F#C certified, he does not need that, the way he looks after his forests the F#C dream about, John goes into the forest and carefully selects trees that are ready for use without devastating the area around it and without mowing down the whole forest, he has a great understanding of how the forest works and his job is to maintain and encourage the forest to grow healthy with the right species and the right balance. He is another example of a caring person who thinks deeply about his effect on the environment around him.
This is a Wilow tree taken in my native Belgium, it is an amazing and useful tree, like all trees. (Photo by Tristan Titeux)
“The flowers of the willow have been used for insomnia, migraines and anxiety”
My dad used to be an Ecologist and Herbalist in Belgium, he spoke on the national radio and wrote about wild plants. In his ” Les fiches vertes de Jose Titeux” he wrote in french that the bark of the wood is reputed to be astringent, a tonic and antiseptic. It stimulates appetite, helps the digestion and strengthens the digestive system, maybe I should take some then as my digestion isn’t great. He says it is also good for chronic rheumatism, I should tell my mum! He says that it is used in homeopathy for rheumatism too, the leaves are useful too but to a lesser degree. The flowers of the willow have been used for insomnia, migraines and anxiety.
“along comes modern man and he thinks he can out do nature”
Well there you are, if at the end of the useful life of your basket, you have nothing left to do with it, you can always make a tea and sort out your tummy! That is the kind of thing I love about nature, she gives us all we need and not only that it is healthy, natural and designed to work perfectly with our bodies that have evolved over thousands of years with her. Then along comes modern man and he thinks he can out do nature. She has years of experience and he is a baby, yet he produces synthetic materials that pollute the land where it is sourced, pollute the air and water where it is processed, uses up tons of energy to manufacture it, then more to distribute it! It doesn’t end there, it lives in your home where it slowly pollutes it and you and at the end of it’s life it gets thrown away and carries on polluting.
“at the end of it’s life it can be used to cure you of disease better than any man made chemical drug”
Ooh what a contrast to the good old Willow, living graciously beside the stream, cleaning up the water, holding the bank together, feeding countless insects, birds and mammals, and producing every year without fail a crop of thin wood sticks ready for us to cut and weave into many different useful objects. They grow everywhere in England, give back to the land instead of polluting, they clean the air too, are easy to take care off and require low energy input apart from physical human energy, but that is something we don’t use enough of these days.
My dad Jose Titeux out and about in his local town of Liege in Belgium.
The willow has a very low manufacturing footprint, just cut, soak in water and weave. Then at the end of it’s life it can be used to cure you of disease better than any man made chemical drug, or it can be composted, thrown in a woodland to produce habitat for wildlife or burned in the home fire.
What a perfect circle that makes, I love it, the thought fills me with joy!
I don’t like using the word hate and always tell my children not to use it, so sorry boys, but I hate injustice, and I promote the use of natural and sustainable materials because it is unjust not to use them, they are there for us to use, they are the perfect materials for us and a lot of us don’t realised it, we are sitting on a gold pot and replacing it with fake tat, for the sole reason that tat can be patented and profited from.
But I see a world where we will be more just and fairer.
There are more and more young people producing and doing things to help the world, help those in need, help nature from being pillaged completely, and this is what drives me forward. I can see the light, I can see that there is a way out of this mess we are in. We need to learn from our past and realised that this is the way to learn about the future. If you ignore the past you ignore the knowledge and experience of millions of people that have come before you.
Thank you Jose for teaching me the things you have taught me. Thank you for being so generous.
I better stop now, or this will never end.
If you want to hear more of my view of the world, materials and ethical furniture my book will be out in 2012.
I wish you all the luck in the world and if you need me to help you with anything I am there for you.
Tristan Titeux 21 November 2011
To connect with me through social media you can search my name in Google.
My Twitter is @TristanTiteux