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Daily Archives: 18. November 2017 − News & Stories


Pic­tu­re frames made of Spits­ber­gen-drift­wood available for the first time in limi­t­ed edi­ti­on

During a walk on any of Spitsbergen’s beau­tiful bea­ches, you can’t help it but be ama­zed about the impres­si­ve amounts of drift­wood. Not only does it add a aes­the­ti­cal aspect to the other­wi­se rather ste­ri­le shore­li­ne, but it does also have a fasci­na­ting histo­ry: Just as Fri­dt­jof Nan­sen did with his famous ship the Fram, did the wood drift all the way from Sibe­ria with the pack ice across the Arc­tic Oce­an and all the way to the north Atlan­tic, whe­re it was thrown onto an arc­tic beach in Sval­bard, Green­land, Ice­land, Jan May­en or Frans Josef Land.

Treibholz bei Wigdehlpynten - Spitzbergen

Drift­wood at Wig­dehl­pyn­ten – Wood­fjord, Spits­ber­gen

And the­re we have it. If you are a trap­per, you can use it to build a hut (that was rare­ly done, too much effort) or as fire­wood (that was very com­mon). I am not a trap­per, but a pho­to­grapher, so it was an obvious idea to use the drift­wood to make pic­tu­re frames. Can you ima­gi­ne a more appro­pria­te pic­tu­re frame for arc­tic pic­tures than one made of drift­wood from Spits­ber­gen?

Tur­ning drif­tood into pic­tu­re frames requi­red more effort than we expec­ted to begin with. We made the first serious attempts seve­ral years ago, when mas­ter car­pen­ter Wolf­gang Zach ope­ned his carpenter’s work­shop in Lon­gye­ar­by­en. He cal­led his litt­le com­pa­ny “Alt i 3”, which is a play of words: “3” is “tre” in Nor­we­gi­an, which also means “tree” or “wood” at the same time. So it trans­la­tes to “Ever­y­thing out of wood”. We found also out that you do actual­ly need a licen­se to export drift­wood from Spits­ber­gen, so that was ano­ther thing we had to take care of.

So I star­ted coll­ec­ting drift­wood in small amounts. The first pro­ject was a books­helf for our flat in Lon­gye­ar­by­en, and at the same time we star­ted making the first pro­to­ty­pes of pic­tu­re frames. We just had to find out what works well with this very spe­cial mate­ri­al. One of the dis­co­veries that we made was that if you cut and sand it, it looks as fresh and new as a woo­den board that you just bought in the buil­ding sup­p­ly store. Which is of cour­se not the idea with pic­tu­re frames made from arc­tic drift­wood. So I star­ted loo­king for pie­ces of wood that had a good shape to start with. Most pie­ces of drift­wood are not natu­ral, but rather trees cut in forestry in Sibe­ria or even rea­dy-made boards. Com­ple­te­ly natu­ral drift­wood – trees with roots – are actual­ly quite rare.

Treibholz Hiorthhamn - Spitzbergen

Rolf Stan­ge trans­port­ing drift­wood to Lon­gye­ar­by­en.

I took this drift­wood in small amounts to Lon­gye­ar­by­en, were it had to be stored and slow­ly dried over lon­ger peri­ods of time. Then, Wolf­gang and I could start making the first pic­tu­re frames in his carpenter’s work­shop. After some expe­ri­men­ting, we had a pro­to­ty­pe that we both lik­ed, so the mas­ter car­pen­ter could start to pro­du­ce the first set of 16 pic­tu­re frames – all of them were made by Wolf­gang Zach in Lon­gye­ar­by­en.

Spitsbergen driftwood picture frame

Now, the­se had to get to Ger­ma­ny. If you know me, then it won’t sur­pri­se you to read that they tra­vel­led from Spits­ber­gen to Fra­n­eker in the Net­her­lands on the good sai­ling ship Anti­gua and from the­re via Müns­ter and Dres­den to my ship­ping depart­ment in nor­the­as­tern Ger­ma­ny.

After this long jour­ney from Sibe­ria, down a river, with the ice across the Arc­tic Oce­an to a beach in Spits­ber­gen, from the­re to Lon­gye­ar­by­en to Wolfang’s carpenter’s work­shop, from the­re on a sai­ling ship to Euro­pe. And the­re they are now, the very first series of 16 pic­tu­re frames from Spits­ber­gen drift­wood, available for the first time sin­ce Novem­ber 2017.

Every sin­gle pic­tu­re frame is a uni­que spe­ci­men. This has to do with the histo­ry of the wood, the natu­ral cha­rac­ter of the mate­ri­al, the manu­al pro­duc­tion. So I took pho­to­graphs of all frames, which you can see on this page (click here), which also has all the tech­ni­cal infor­ma­ti­on (dimen­si­ons, pri­ce etc.)

Picture frame of Spitsbergen driftwood
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