Plywerk: Photos on Bamboo Plywood

Plywerk: Photos on Bamboo Plywood

Tess Wilson
Aug 30, 2011

I love plywood, I love photographs, and I have no patience/dollars for matting and framing photographs, so when I heard about a new company that prints photos directly onto bamboo plywood, my reaction was something sophisticated like, "I want it!"

I find plywood so, so beautiful and useful. I have a birch plywood tabletop, and a bamboo plywood computer shelf, and that's just what's in my line of sight right now. When done properly, the sides of the plywood can be just as beautiful as the swanky top veneer. Beyond the look, it can be a great way to get a lot of pretty wood for your buck, without using up a lot of trees. Plywerk of Portland, Oregon, might love plywood even more than I do, because they were smart enough to figure out how to print digital images on it. On plywood!

They can explain it much better than I can, but basically sustainably-harvested bamboo or maple plywood panels are put together with eco-glues, then layered with a "transparent PH-neutral adhesive", and then the image itself, printed on various types of fine papers. I can't believe I never tried this myself using double-stick tape or a glue stick. Not quite the same, probably. I was (obviously) in love with the concept, but needed to see it in person — there's a lot of tacky plywood out there, you know? And a lot of shoddy printing. The sample they sent is 4"x6", and 3/4" thick, which is thicker than I was expecting, giving it a nice presence on the wall. (The image is a little photo they found of an embroidery I did for Blue Bottle Coffee a few years ago.) I would love to see how a super-high-res image looks printed on a large scale.

Ready for the small-world story of the day? Being huge fans of Apartment Therapy, the Plywerk crew looked for a West Coast AT writer to send information to, and judging from my posts, they thought I might be into it. I heard the words "photo" and "plywood" and said yes, please! It turns out that years ago, I'd met their customer service rep Nichole at a skiing birthday party in Colorado for the brilliant Jen of TomEatsJenCooks. Five years later, I'm in San Francisco, Nichole is in Portland by way of Antarctica, and Jen is in Seoul by way of Hong Kong, London, and Brooklyn. Small world!

Images: Tess Wilson

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