Roddy Wildeman's reclaimed woodwork saves lives

Again about reclaimed wood. We are too quick to throw away old wooden objects, we are too quick to burn wood from demolition or conversion of houses. We've talked about such art, but this time it saves more than wood - it saves lives. The subject of this article - with no art education, but a history in real estate where he has seen many demolitions and conversions - now has work in the Rockefeller family's private office and art museums. He owns art galleries and is a great philanthropist, using his art to do many charitable acts.

reclaimed wood art

Discovering a passion

Roddy Wildeman worked first in the US Army, then as a carpenter and then as a real estate agent for 15 years. During that time he helped people find new homes and witnessed some of those homes being demolished or converted. Each time the remains of the houses touched him because he realized how full they were of the history of the place, of the families who had passed through. He began to collect them and try to turn them into works of art. Although he has no specialized studies, he always had an artistic nature that helped him find his way and his way of expression.

His experience as a carpenter helped him in woodworking. When he realised he needed to know more, he turned to the knowledge of well-known carpenters and joiners and tried to learn as much as he could from them. Eventually he formed a style that proved to be the winning one.

reclaimed wood art

reclaimed wood art

Wood that embodies history

Roddy never changes the colour of the wood used, nor does it rework the surface. He says this keeps all the history locked inside, all the feelings of those who lived there - love, hate, despair, hope.

The wood comes from floors, ceilings, walls, but also from old furniture. The wood elements are cut according to certain patterns and laid to form a certain pattern. Sometimes it uses a method of joining wood used in 15th century Italy. The method is called 'intarsia' and although it is the basis of what we know today about marquetry, it is different in its final appearance.

When asked why he chose to work with Roddy's reclaimed wood, he says it always makes him think about the stories of people who have used it before, to imagine what their lives were like in those homes. Another reason, less artistic but very commendable, is that he feels a social responsibility to recycle and reuse. It's his way of keeping the environment clean and protecting resources.

reclaimed wood art

reclaimed wood art


Artist and philanthropist

Wildeman now owns art galleries in New York, is the director of a non-profit organization, exhibits in various shows, gives motivational TEDex talks, and is a regular figure in local and national media.

Roddy is also a great philanthropist. He donates his art to charity auctions, supports and advocates for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the Sarcom Foundation of America, the Center for Kenyan Children and many others. He recently donated a large sum of money received from the sale of a work to singer/songwriter Jason Mraz to the Sarcom Foundation.

reclaimed wood art

reclaimed wood art

About the author

Mihaela Radu

Mihaela Radu is a chemical engineer but has a great passion for wood. She has been working in the field for more than 20 years, wood finishing being what defined her during this period. She gained experience working in a research institute, in her own company, as well as in a multinational. She wants to continuously share her experience with those who have the same passion - and more.

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