Saturday, September 20, 2008

Rising From Ashes

The emerald ash borer beetle is wreaking havoc on trees in the suburbs of Chicago and across the country. First discovered in southeastern Michigan near Detroit in 2002, the adult beetles nibble on ash foliage, but cause little damage. Their larvae, on the other hand, are the trouble makers. They eat away the inner bark, disrupting the trees ability to transport water and nutrients. The beetle probably arrived in the U.S. from its native Asia in solid wood packaging on ships and planes.

The emerald ash borer beetle is expected to kill 1/5 of all the street trees in Chicago! The beetle has killed more than 40 million ash trees in southeastern Michigan alone, with tens of millions more in other states. There is no way to stop the emerald ash borer's path of destruction other than to remove all ash trees. So, as the old saying goes, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

The Chicago Furniture Designers Association is presenting the exhibition Rising From Ashes: Furniture From Lost Trees. The furniture, more than 25 pieces, is made with salvaged ash lumber. Instead of throwing it away, these designers have taken a sustainable approach that is not only environmentally responsible, but also encourages artistic and technical creativity.

The exhibit also features wood carving, wood shaping, lumbering demonstrations, and a presentation on the ecology of the emerald ash borer. Best of all, this exhibit is free. Check out the exhibit, which is currently at Ryerson Woods, while you can or see it at one of its other stops. Dates and locations can be found on their website at

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