Yew, Ginkgo, Olive and Juniper – Our well-kept treasures

The yew is a very exciting tree. Almost everything about it is poisonous and contains the active substance taxine. Compared to the wood of the yew tree, there can hardly be a greater contrast than to the ginkgo wood.

Yew wood

The yew is a very exciting tree. Almost everything about it is toxic and contains the active ingredient Taxin. It is the red fruit, strictly speaking only the red pulp, which is non-toxic.

Animals and humans should not ingest either twigs or needles. We do not know how much taxin is contained in a seasoned piece of yew wood.

We do not wear respiratory protection when working with yew wood and have not noticed any symptoms of taxin so far.

The wood of the yew is hard, fine-pored and has a play of colors from orange to pink.

Since the wood is also very elastic, it used to be used for the construction of arches and spears. A bow made of yew wood was also found in “Ötzi” of the glacier mummy.

When processing or spending time in a yew forest, I often remember its mythology. It is a time between here and there and often reveals the change in life and gives focus and strength for it.

Ginkgo wood

Compared to the wood of the yew tree, there can hardly be a greater contrast than to the ginkgo wood.

The fine-pored, soft, delicate wood with a magical, penetrating scent is a joy to work with.

The Gingko Biloba tree is also called the maidenhair tree. It is the only survivor of the Ginkgoaceae family, which was native to many parts of the world (including Europe) about 160 million years ago. And it survived the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in World War 2. 4 trees survived at the epicentre and blossomed again the following spring – like a miracle.

In East Asia, the ginkgo is a sacred tree that embodies the elemental force of life (well before World War II). The ginkgo wood that I use in my workshop today comes from Weimar. It was Goethe who had many ginkgo trees planted there.

Is that what we see? A deciduous tree?

No.

It is a ginkgo biloba and neither a deciduous nor a coniferous tree, but a living fossil.

The ginkgo leaf, which is partly divided into two parts, is interpreted as a symbol of Yin and Yang and also means friendship and hope.

Olive wood

From hope to peace.

It was an olive branch that the dove had in its beak and brought to Noah. A sign of peace. When I look at the very grained, vibrant olive wood and breathe in the indescribable green scent of the wood, I wish for peace within us and with all the other unique individuals.

Olive trees are evergreen, give valuable olive oil through the fruits and were very protected by the ancient Greeks. The wood of the olive trees could only be used for cult statues. Who does not know the dove with the olive branch in its beak, symbolising hope, new growth and peace.

The wood of the olive tree varies greatly depending on the location. We only use wood without twist growth and root area, as this wood is fine-pored, hard and insensitive to moisture. The strong grain makes each comb a special unique specimen.

Have you ever had the opportunity to spend time in an olive grove? It is a magical place and time.

Juniper wood

As intensely fresh and fruity as the wood smells, as soft and warm are the colour and feel of the wood.

It is the shrubby growth that makes working with juniper wood a challenge. In many areas you can see the beginnings of the branches and therefore we work very carefully with this very rare wood. Juniper can be a tree and a shrub in one plant.

As a cypress plant, juniper belongs to the pine family and does not produce any resin. Instead, it exudes its own long-lasting, very refreshing odour.

In the literature (Das Holz des Wacholders – Eigenschaften und Verwendung by Dietger Grosser) it is described that juniper wood was the preferred wood for combs in earlier times. My guess is that this is because it was very easy to work with the tools that were available at the time.

When I work with juniper wood and the unmistakable scent spreads through the workshop, I feel fresh, free and alive. The mind becomes clear and motivation is enhanced.

Your comb maker

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