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AFRICAN BLACKWOOD:
PRESERVING ONE OF THE WORLD'S MOST SOUGHT-AFTER MATERIALS

African blackwood and African redwood are both extremely coveted around the world as exotic wood types. Members of the broader redwood family, these ancient trees take over 75 years to mature. Their history spans back 5,000 years to the Egyptian pyramids. Historic, rare and slow growing - this timber is not suitable material for mass-produced floors, furniture or frankly, any manufactured product.

Blackwood is particularly sought-after for musical instruments – it has a good grain structure and is very dense. It is considered the best wood of all for woodwind instruments but is also a highly respected guitar material. Used for handmade instruments and felled sparingly, the species has survived for centuries. But when Chinese companies arrive and begin harvesting mechanically and African blackwood plank flooring ends up on the shelves at Home Depot (2,200 stores), survival is not guaranteed.

Western logging companies have pillaged these forests. Local craftsmen, people who have worked with these woods sustainably for decades, are cast aside in the industrialization of Africa’s rare wood resources. There are “certification” requirements for export however, conservation and preservation groups have accumulated many illegal examples of such permits. In fact, most of the export permits are illegal.

The market’s insatiable appetite. will lead to the loss of species if the overharvesting continues. There is a huge demand in China for furniture made from these woods and that demand is ravaging the rosewood forests of Africa. But not only the trees are being devastated - people like Amadou are losing their livelihood.

Amadou, master wood carver

Amadou is a master wood carver in Mali, Africa, who learned his craft on his father’s knee at the age of eight. He has made a living with wood ever since - in a sustainable fashion. Funny how that works. If you are hands on with nature and her resources and if you are connected in your heart to your art – sustainable is automatic.

Treana Peake and our artisan partner Amadou

Today, Mali’s forests continue to be leased and sold to foreign logging companies. Amadou can only make a living by picking up the scraps they leave for locals, the pieces they consider “unsuitable” for their high-end mass production furniture. Some branches are too small for them to bother with, some have white markings on the black wood – a stunning mark which you will see in Amadou’s remarkable pieces.

After serious consideration, we concluded that carrying Amadou’s extraordinary pieces is indeed an ethical sourcing decision. Amadou’s creations are made from scraps that are left behind. This was his craft and livelihood before the logging companies came. We will never have more than a limited run each year as not to create or increase demand.

Our profits from these incredible pieces will go back into expanding our partnerships in the region (think: micro loans with distribution support) and will also be used to replant and reforest areas that have been overwhelmed by international companies.

Amadou will support his family using his own country’s natural resources. And a few lucky ethical consumers will be taking home far more than a piece of wood.

Artisanal Handmade Redwood 9" Wooden Serving Bowl | Obakki
Artisanal Handmade Redwood 9" Wooden Serving Bowl | Obakki
Artisanal Handmade 9" Wooden Serving Bowl | Obakki

9" Wooden Serving Bowl

$145.00
Story

Use these stunning bowls to serve salads, or as a decor piece. Every bowl is carved and finished entirely by hand, making each one a unique and functional work of art. Taking up to four days to complete, these bowls represent everything we love about slow design.

In northern Mali, Amadou has been refining his craft since he was eight years old. Using techniques passed down through generations, from father to son, Amadou has mastered the art of hand carving traditional wooden bowls. No complex machines. No fancy gadgets. No unnecessary complications. Just generations of knowledge and reverence for the wood itself passing through his hands.

Details
  • MEASUREMENTS: ~9” diameter
  • MATERIALS: 100% African Redwood
  • ORIGIN: Mali
  • Please note, each bowl is hand-carved using upcycled, restored African Redwood; therefore, the grain may differ from piece to piece.
Product Care

It’s important to season your bowl before using it. Using a clean cloth, thoroughly coat the wood with the provided mineral oil and continue to season it every so often as needed. If it appears dull or feels dry to the touch, it needs seasoning. Use warm water and mild soap to wash the surface and never put it in the dishwasher or let it soak (this prevents cracking and warping). Also, keep your bowl out of the microwave.

Artisanal Handmade Hand-Carved Wooden Bowl | Obakki
Artisanal Handmade Hand-Carved Wooden Bowl | Obakki
Artisanal Handmade Hand-Carved Wooden Bowl | Obakki
Artisanal Handmade Flat-Bottomed Serving Bowl | Obakki

11" Redwood Bowl

$300.00
Artisanal Handmade Mixed Blackwood One-of-a-Kind 10
Artisanal Handmade Mixed Blackwood One-of-a-Kind 10
Artisanal Handmade One-of-a-Kind 10
Artisanal Handmade One-of-a-Kind 10
Artisanal Handmade One-of-a-Kind 10

One-of-a-Kind 10" Spoon

$120.00
Artisanal Handmade Redwood 10
Artisanal Handmade Redwood 10
Artisanal Handmade 10
Artisanal Handmade 10

10" Redwood Bowl

$225.00

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