Alamo Hardwoods Blog

Mexico Modern (3 of 3)

alamo hardwoods | san antonio chair mexico chapultepec castle
Chair in Mexico City Chapultepec Castle, Historic Yet Modern looking
Mexico is a country of extreme contrasts.  It has an ancient heritage to rival anywhere in the world, a powerful Spanish Colonial background planted directly atop the ancient cities, and a love of all things modern and new.  This forward thinking manifests itself in the works of architects like Luis Barragan, Pedro Ramirez Vasquez and Ricardo Legorreta.  The result is a complex blending of ancient materials and techniques in a fresh, new direction.  Pattern and texture take over from ancient, repetitive motifs such as acanthus leaves.  The materials are made to sing of their own accord, without the obvious forced hand of manmade design.  Each block of a floor becomes a work of art in it's own right. 

The new world woods such as Mesquite show their strength and durability for flooring and furniture.  The most important lesson is, if one is to rely on clean modern design, you better splurge for some decent fancy material to look at!
alamo hardwoods | san antonio | mexico door carving modern
Door Carving in Queretaro

alamo hardwoods | san antonio | casa lamm mexico city inlaid wood parquet floors decorative border
Decorative Border in Parquet Flooring, Casa Lamm, Colonia Roma, Mexico City

alamo hardwoods | san antonio | parquet floor mexico city sanborns casa uzelujos
Parquet Floor, Sanborn's Casa de los Azulejos, Mexico City

alamo hardwoods | san antonio | mexico city chapultepec castle mesquite herringbone floor
Mesquite Herringbone Pattern in Chapultepec Castle, Mexico City

alamo hardwoods | san antonio | mexico city end grain block floor national museum anthropology
End Grain Block Flooring, National Anthropology Museum Mexico City

alamo hardwoods | san antonio | camino real mexico city wood flooring
Unusual Pattern in Camino Real Hotel, Mexico City

Posted by JR on 11th March, 2014 | Comments | Trackbacks | Permalink
Categories: flooring, history, cross cultures, travel
Tags: mexico, mexican traditional woods, history, flooring, historic preservation

Mexico, Colonial (Part 2 of 3)

alamo hardwoods | san antonio | mexico city | colonial ceiling wood beams
Mexico City Colonial Building

When we last left our heros, the tribes of Mexico had created great cities. Whole civilizations had come and gone, leaving astounding ruined cities.

Then the new neighbors showed up. With the arrival of Europeans, things changed a little bit, to put it mildly. Now back in Europe, most forests had been cut and regrown many, many times since the Roman era.  There were no "Old" trees to be had and people still talked about the famous ancient "Cedars of Lebanon" (a juniper relative, see aromatic cedar).

Needless to say, when the Europeans saw the astounding forests of the new world, with trees hundreds of feet tall, they realized they had hit the jackpot. Even though this hemisphere stood in between them and their Indian spices, trees like the American Mahogany offered rot resistance and beautiful carvability like walnut, but in a jumbo sized package!  The softwood family of trees that grew so straight to get to the top of the "old-growth" canopies made for some darn good ships masts!  And Baldcypress! A tree that could grow in swamps for thousands of years had developed an oil to keep out all of the nasty bugs and fungus (NOT to be confused with the European "Cypress" species, sorry American Cypress producer website!

The Europeans set about recreating this continent in the image of the one they had left behind. They were fascinated by these new woods and their uses in furniture, ships and buildings. The new woods allowed for fine detail and intricate furniture design. The large trees gave huge beams able to span large distances and encouraged open spaced design.

The combination of European design and knowledge, coupled with new resources and labor allowed the "new world" to grow and develop amazingly fast. (next post: Into the Modern Era)

alamo hardwoods | san antonio | colonial wooden cabinet chapultepec castle
Colonial Wooden Cabinet at Chapultepec Castle in Mexico City

alamo hardwoods | san antonio | carved wooden door queretaro mexico
Carved Wooden Door in Queretaro Mexico

alamo hardwoods | san antonio | mexico city carved wooden door palace of iturbide colonial
Carvings on Wooden Door in Mexico City, Palace of Iturbide

alamo hardwoods | san antonio | mexico city carved softwood molding
Carved Softwood Door Surround in Mexico City

alamo hardwoods | san antonio | carved sfotwood door mexico grain lines
Carved Softwood Door (note the grain lines)

alamo hardwoods | san antonio | carving mahogany mexico church
Carved Mahogany Priest's Bench Mexico City

alamo hardwoods | san antonio | la opera bar mexico city mahogany carving baroque
Mahogany Carving in La Opera Bar Mexico City (Don't miss Pancho Villa's bullet hole)

alamo hardwoods | san antonio | table mexico city chapultepec castle giant slab
Table in Chapultepec Castle

alamo hardwoods | san antonio | mexico city chapultepec giant table top slab
Giant Slab of Mahogany(?)

alamo hardwoods | san antonio | veneered table top mexico city chapultepec castle

Posted by JR on 6th March, 2014 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks | Permalink
Categories: travel, history, cross cultures
Tags: Historic Preservation | Historic homes | historic building re-use, history, mexican traditional woods, mexico

Mexico (part 1 of 3) Ancient Times

Alamo Hardwoods | san antonio | mexico trees
We love trees, wherever they are!
We love trees in any country!

We try to notice trees and wooden items on any trip we take, and our most recent excursion took us to Mexico City.  Mexico City has made great efforts to clean up its air and this past winter we found it cleaner than ever (good job!)

Mexico has also made history a priority for tourism and has the best museums in the hemisphere for ancient artifacts. The current city was built atop the Aztec City of Tenochtitlan for political and practical reasons with the arrival of the Spanish. Any digging for construction turns up amazing artifacts from centuries and millennia ago. Wood decays with exposure to insects and fungi and the lake bed provided plenty of moisture so few wooden items seem to survive compared to the stone and pottery pieces.

The trees seen in Mexico are the same as those seen in Texas, Cypress, Mesquite, Texas "Ebony", Aromatic Cedar and the Pines. Over hundreds of years people discovered that some woods sound nice when hit and some have oils that have medicinal and practical construction uses.

The few items that do survive show a great sophistication in understanding what each wood was good for and workmanship.  In the National Anthropology Museum there is a boat that was carved from one single log.  The tool marks from the adzes are still visible after hundreds and hundreds of years. This boat would have been used to travel to the various small islands in the lake and probably across the large expanses of water given its long shape.

The area called Xochimilco still shows how people lived hundreds of years ago with small square boats floating tourists around for the day.  This knowledge and skill set was turned to other purposes with the arrival of the Europeans and their agenda, but that's part 2.....
alamo hardwoods | san anotnio | mexican stone artifacts tools
Stone Artifacts in Mexico City Museum

alamo hardwoods | san antonio mesquite trees
Mesquite Trees in Texas

alamo hardwoods | san antonio | teotihucan mexico pyramid mesquite trees
Teotihuacan near Mexico City, with Mesquite Trees!

alamo hardwoods | san antonio | wooden box mexican museum
Wooden Box in Mexico City Museum

Alamo Hardwoods | san antonio mexican wooden drum ancient historic
Ancient Wooden Drum

alamo hardwoods | san antonio | mexico city museum wooden boat
Wooden Boat From Single Log in Mexico City Museum

alamo hardwoods | san antonio | mexico city museum wooden boat tool marks
Tool Marks Inside Wooden Boat

alamo hardwoods | san antonio | mexico city museum wooden boat tool marks
Wooden Boat in National Anthropology Museum, Mexico City

Posted by JR on 29th January, 2014 | Comments (4) | Trackbacks | Permalink
Categories: history, travel, cross cultures
Tags: history, historic preservation, alamo hardwoods, mexico, mexican traditional woods

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