Meet woodworker Alexandra Climent. She operates out of her own shop in Brooklyn. Her passion for the extraordinary wood she found in the jungle lead her to teach herself the trade.
This is her story in her own words:
“In college I worked for a marine construction company as their account manager and secretary…I noticed that there was a certain type of wood that was in high demand for marine work…I started to research where this special wood came from. It turned out there was a reason why it wasn’t widely available; it was difficult to get because it came from a small country in South America, which I later found was very hard to communicate with.
I ended up going down to the jungle with the construction company fully supporting the idea of me finding the wood they needed and purchasing it directly from me. It was an intense struggle to find suppliers and there were many dangerous things that happened while in the jungle.
I started falling in love with the idea of bringing back the wood for myself and discovering it’s beauty in some way. I wanted to to do it sustainably, as I wanted the wood both to be visually beautiful, but also beautiful in the way that it had lived it’s full life. Locals loved the idea and got excited by helping figure out ways to do this.
Once I managed to get an order together for a full container back to the states, I realized I had something really special. I had no idea at the time how to woodwork and because of the density of the wood, I didn’t even know how to make cuts without breaking blades.
When the wood finally arrived, it would be months that turned into almost 2 years of me researching and driving around trying to find help to cut the wood I had worked so hard to find. I still had a full time job and would take my days off and drive all over to woodshops and mills asking if they could help me cut this wood. All of them said no.
I ended up having to do it myself and so far each aspect of this learning process of woodworking I have learned and taught to myself. I think a lot of people thought I would never be able to do it, but I never gave up. Now, after many years in the making, I’m able to finally make pieces that are very close to my heart that also showcase the beauty that I saw when I was down in jungle.” –Alexandra Climent
All of the products Alexandra Climent makes are set apart from other pieces constructed of wood. She sustainably sources her materials from the jungle, befriending locals and working with each regions’ governments along the way. The wood she harvests and brings back to her wood shop in Brooklyn is ancient, densely packed over years and years. Note the grain and hue in her finished pieces shown above. To see more of her work, visit her website: www.sustainablysliced.com/shop.
“My advice would be not to wait around to find the perfect class or the perfect moment to start woodworking. You just have to jump into it, even if it’s little by little. I was working for a retail company and would find time to practice on my days off, no one considered me a woodworker then, but I was because I was practicing and progressing…even if it was slowly. It doesn’t matter what you do, just find a little bit of time to start.” -Woodworker @alexandracliment
When people told Alexandra Climent that what she wanted to do was impossible, she just kept plugging away. Her determination and problem solving set her work apart. The ancient woods she brings back from the jungle are unlike anything most of us have ever seen. It’s so dense, saw blades can only make it through a few cuts before breaking against the age-old grain. The deep pigments, saturated into the rings over time, tell a rich story.
As she travels to the jungles of South America, her deepest hope is to share this rare beauty that nature bestowed in those particular regions. Her efforts to preserve and promote all that those forests have to offer are encouraging. As humans, we can appreciate and use what the earth gives us without harming our surroundings in the long run.