Native to Africa, Indonesia and parts of India, ebony is a slow-growing dense hardwood with distinctive black colouration with a satin sheen when cut and polished. It is sometimes used for black piano keys, canoes, ornaments, black chess pieces and its bark can be used to dye cloth a deep blue colour. However, this beautiful wood is one of the rarest and most expensive types of wood in the world making it difficult to work with. Fortunately, there are skilled processes that enable wood to embody ebony features.
History of ebonising wood
Ebonising wood originated in the 16th century but was not adopted as popular practice until the 19th century. Some experts also used iron to blacken the wood by oxidising the natural tannins in the timber, whilst others made stain solutions using steel wool and vinegar. A method used in the 16th century was to use the powder of dried nut galls found on oak trees, otherwise known as oak apples. Nut galls are high in tannic acid and were brewed with rainwater and then painted in even layers to prepared wood. Nut galls were also infused in vinegar along with rusty nails and this was used as a rub. Once dry, the newly darkened wood was polished to give it ‘satin ebony sheen’.
Our ebonising process
Steamed Studio was inspired by both current and classic interior design. In homeware, we think ebony inspired products are timeless and elegant. Most of our products have their natural colours enhanced with oils but experimenting with ebonising stains was a way to add another dimension to our products as well as inspiring us as designers. We are pleased with the outcome and we hope you will be too.
Over the years, we have perfected the way we ebonise timber and we feel it gives each piece an alluring lustre charm. We use a combination of stains and oils that give each piece our signature ebonised look. Hung on the walls of character dwellings or centrepieces in contemporary homes, our ebonised products look remarkable in every space.