The love of nature’s hardwoods began, for wood artist Robin Wade, as a child. The Florence, Alabama, native grew up in an A-frame timber home built by his father on the bank of Cypress Creek and at the edge of a forested plot of untouched earth. “Each winter, Dad would take us—my brother and me—through the woods looking for a sassafras tree,” Robin says. “Trying not to damage the tree, we would carefully dig a few pieces of the root and cover the roots back over.” Next, the Wade men would take the roots into the kitchen, wash them, and place the roots in a pot of water for a short boil. Then, they would add a little honey to their Sassafras tea. “The house would smell sweet and wonderful throughout the remainder of the day”, Wade recalls.
Today, Wade enjoys the aroma of sassafras (also known for its use in root beer and gumbo’s file seasoning) in his Slow Studio when he's crafting sassafras furniture. “The scent of this wonderful wood when we are working it in the studio really is amazing. I’ve never smelled another wood that is so pleasant. If you happen to be visiting the studio on a day when we are making sassafras furniture, you’ll know it before you step in the door,” Wade says.
Wade also loves Sassafras for other reasons. “Its color is lighter than oak”, he says. “It doesn’t have a lot of grain or contrast.” The wood is also very scarce. “It is not on the market,” Wade says, “just because there aren’t enough trees for it to be a commodity.” It’s scarcity makes Wade’s sassafras furniture, such as tables, and benches, even more special. “There’s no comparison,” he says.
The newest addition to the RWF family is so sweet, she is named for the intoxicating aroma. Sassafras—along with big sister Havana—are the official greeters at RWF’s Slow Studio in Florence, Alabama.