Where do artists find the cool wood and stone that they use for projects
October 22, 2008 9:40 PM   Subscribe

Where can I find locations to buy wood or stone from foreign countries, things not naturally available in the US

Say I was an artist and I wanted to work with a particular type of wood or stone that comes from a region outside the USA, How would I go about finding what types of wood/stone comes from where, and then how could I buy it.

Is there a source of chunks of wood like teak that people use for interesting things, NOT typical lumber, but things like slabs of wood for a coffee table or bench, that is natural.

I have seen people make interesting things with blocks of stone from Indonesia that is really white, but I don't think that it is marble or granite, but I do not know what it is, and I would like to get my hands on some, even if its just a block of it, for an interesting desk paper weight or something.
posted by Mesach to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Hardwood stores will usually carry, or can get, exotic woods. Purpleheart and zebrawood are the most common that I've seen.
posted by hwyengr at 11:12 PM on October 22, 2008

Could it be Alabaster?

Regarding stones, you may have a local supplier who sells tools and stone for sculptors.
posted by sebastienbailard at 3:47 AM on October 23, 2008

Google "exotic hardwood" and poke around a little. Many of these sites have pictures and information about the woods they carry.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 4:10 AM on October 23, 2008

Many woods are on the international ban list--you won't be able to get any *new* Brazillian zebrawood, for instance. Existing stock was grandfathered in, however, and you can often find luthiers getting rid of their excess supply on eBay.

For example.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:32 AM on October 23, 2008

The Googles and the intertubes is your answer!

Beware, stone doesn't look the same raw as worked. Also, the range of variation in a stone category is huge. Marble comes in all sorts of colors as does granite. Somewhere in your area is a flooring/counter top shop. They'll have a stoneyard with scraps and drops and a huge variety of slab stone. You can get an idea of what's out there from that. You can also pick up some pieces for play.

I have also found small pieces in rock shops and places that sell lapidary supplies. Again, google is your friend as is the local Yellow Pages.

Depends on where you are, but there are local stones in all regions. Really, there are too many to count.

I don't usually buy stone from mail order places, because shipping sucks and I need specific sizes and types, and like to see what I'm buying in person. It's OK to do if you need small pieces, or if you are a pro and can afford a container of stone from Italy. As a general estimating rule, stone weighs about 150 pounds per cubic foot.... that's close enough to illustrate the concept.

What are you a-looking for?
posted by FauxScot at 5:38 AM on October 23, 2008

30 years ago, my dad used to get pieces of exotic woods from Constantine's in the Bronx. Since then, most stores that carry decent hardwood also started carrying exotics to some degree.

In terms of trying to find an appropriate wood for an area, the google phrase "Trees of <country name here>" works pretty well then you can see if you can find suppliers of that wood. I would also consider contacting embassies from those countries to find out what raw materials get used in native art/furniture/whatever.
posted by plinth at 6:37 AM on October 23, 2008

Here's a current list of restricted species of hardwoods on CITES website (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species). Flora and fauna are mixed together in the alphabetical list.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:52 AM on October 23, 2008

Best answer: I get woods (both normal and exotic) from my (particularly good) local hardwood store, which also sells online. Their assortment is fantastic, and I've been very happy with them. I've only bought in person. They do have odd shaped pieces as well as conventional lumber. Quite frankly, I'd say they're worth a drive. (I have no affiliation other than happy customer).

Hearne Hardwoods
posted by JMOZ at 10:41 AM on October 23, 2008

Response by poster: for stone I'm looking for natural(cut marks and all) pieces that are like 8"x8"x1' or so for bases, and for the wood, i'm looking for pieces that are around 1.5-3" thick and have natural shapes and edges so that they can be made into very natural looking tables and tops. I'm not looking for species that most people already have like rosewood, and cocobolo, that's why I was wanting to know about things not generaly available in the US.

I have been to Rockler and seen thier selection of woods available to people wanting to work with "exotic species", and checked out the local stone suppliers, but unless you are looking for counter tops or something to use to carve sculptures that is readily available to them through their mass produced distributors in Europe or wherever, its almost impossible.

Most sales people are only able to sell what is in thier distributors catalogs, and have no clue if what if anything exists outside that realm.

Maybe I will have to go and take a class at the local art college, MCAD(Minneapolis College of Art and Design) and pick the brain of the professors there. Unless someone knows how I can contact someone to ask a few inquisitive questions.
posted by Mesach at 6:05 PM on October 23, 2008

Response by poster: Hearne Hardwoods stands out as a supplier of wood, that site is exactly what i'm looking for.

Anyone got something like that for Stone?
posted by Mesach at 6:07 PM on October 23, 2008

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