Timeless Styles for Your Home
Orvis Distinctive Home Stories
Fatwood fuels efforts of conservation and economic recovery in troubled Honduras.
Orvis Fatwood is more than a pretty pile of sticks. Besides being a great gift for any household, a gift rooted in American traditions of the Old South as well as the North, Fatwood continues to light the way for the Orvis Company, providing a shining example for employees and customers alike of our commitment to quality and sustainable business practices.
"Fatwood" is what folks in Florida and Georgia call kindling collected from the stumps of the gulf region's pine trees, particularly longleaf pines. In other areas it's called "lighterwood," "fatlighter," and "heart pine." But, as Orvis Chairman, Leigh Perkins says, "whatever it's called, it sure as hell works!" Leigh thought there might be a few takers for the product, especially since, "my parents' guests from the Northern United States would always want to take a box of it home with them."
Orvis Fatwood Originally, Fatwood was harvested from the stumps left over from logging operations of the past. Pine pitch, which has many uses including in the making of turpentine, is natural resin that lights quickly, stays lit for a while, and smells great. It's found in highest concentration in stumps of mature long-leaf pines.
Using cross-cut saws, early loggers left a tall stump behind and generally had no notion of sustainable harvesting practice. Leigh Perkins "found some old pulp and timber cutters who knew the woods and would go back into the forest and salvage the old fatwood stumps."
Since its introduction in the United States in 1969, Orvis Fatwood has been a catalogue favourite. The success of Fatwood surprised everyone. As a result, supplies of leftover stumps that could be harvested in a low-impact manner were quickly used up.
The challenge was put to our buyers to find a supply of fatwood that was of similar quality and was harvested in a sustainable, low-impact manner in keeping with Orvis' environmental mission.
Our Fatwood, a by-product of the sustainable timber industry, primarily in Central America, is never taken from living trees, and does not come from rainforest areas.Orvis is committed to the environment through our business practices, the conservation projects we support, and the practices of our suppliers. Our 100% natural Fatwood is no exception. We work solely with the most environmentally-responsible companies in the industry. Our Fatwood suppliers are SmartWood/FSC-certified, which means that their business practices are held to the highest, most environmentally-responsible standards. Our Fatwood, a by-product of the sustainable timber industry, primarily in Central America, is never taken from living trees, and does not come from rainforest areas. After a section of managed forest has been harvested, our contractors remove the resin-rich Fatwood from the remaining pine stumps. The forest floor is renewed, which aids reforestation and reduces the risk of forest fires.
In addition to being ecologically beneficial, responsible harvesting of Fatwood helps the local economy, too. Employment prospects in Central America have been severely hurt by a dramatic decrease in the price paid for coffee beans. Since Fatwood is one of the few raw wood products that holds nearly all of its value in the labour required to harvest, cut, and package it, jobs are created and people are given an ongoing opportunity to earn a living.
When you buy Orvis Fatwood, you’re buying an all-natural product harvested in an ecologically, socially, and economically responsible manner. That’s why we say our safe, non-toxic, clean-burning Fatwood is the best in the world.
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The earliest hooked rugs of colonial America were first made out of necessity, since carpets from Europe and Asia were unaffordable to the colonialists. Hooked rugs were not just a practical floor covering, but often made of colourful scraps of cloth in unique, artful designs that depicted domestic scenes.
By the late 18th Century, hooked rugs had become extremely popular as a craft in rural New England. Throughout the years, the hooked rug has continued to be a favourite style of floor covering.
Jute BurlapIn the mid-1800s, Jute burlap, used in shipping in the mid-1800s, became widely used for the backing of rugs. Women of the house used metal or whale bone hooks to pull the scraps through the burlap. A blend of rugged and fine cloth scraps created varied texture and colouration. The “rugs” were actually first used as bed coverings and blankets to keep people warm on the cold New England nights.
All of our wool hooked rugs are still completely handhooked for an authentic texture, character, feel and colouration. Each depicts a domestic scene that continues the 200-year-old-tradition of hooked rugs. Our synthetic rugs are fantastic for use in high traffic areas. Machine hooked, they handle abuse well, resist soil and water, and are completely machine washable.
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Today they hang as masterpieces of American art in prestigious museums such as the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. They are revered the world over for their composition, creativity, and colour. But the quilt’s origins are neither American nor particularly prestigious.
Battenkill QuiltThe Origins of "Quilt"
A quilt, by definition, is simply two layers of cloth stitched together with a soft filling. Though mainly known today as bedcoverings, the word quilt is thought to come from the Latin culcita, meaning literally a "stuffed sack," or mattress.
The Early History of Quilts
Fabrics are fragile by nature and thus tracing their origins can be an inexact art. Some claim that quilted fabrics have been around since the first Egyptian dynasty (as clothing, not bedding). However, references to these fabled fabrics as bedcovers do not appear with regular frequency until the Middle Ages.
Quilts may have made their way to Europe on the return trips of the Crusaders. But whatever their route, by the 17th Century quilted clothing and quilted bedcovers had become popular in Europe and the tradition naturally immigrated to America. It was there that the tradition of quilting was raised to an art form with the quilting explosion of the mid 1800s. Perhaps no group of quilters epitomized the quilting revolution more than the Amish.
The Amish and Quilting
Considering their separatist nature, it is not surprising that most Amish came to quilting later than other American women. But what we may find surprising is that this conservative group pioneered the use of vibrant, sometimes shocking colour combinations. And it was the Amish, when quilting waned in the years following World War II, who helped keep the tradition alive.
Quilting fit quite naturally into the Amish lifestyle—self sufficient, family-oriented, and skillful handwork. It was an occasion for Amish women to gather together, work as a community, and pass on their traditions.
The style of their quilts naturally followed the style of their clothing, combining somber and drab colours with more vivid ones. This juxtaposition of colours, especially when played out in simple geometric designs, created quilts of amazing energy.
Because they approach change gradually, Amish quilters have helped keep alive some of America’s most beloved and traditional patterns, including Sunshine and Shadow, Around the World, Diamond in the Square, and the multi-hued Roman Stripe.
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