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3 local companies turning trees into trendy wood furnishings

Mitch Hooper

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Living in Ohio, we don’t have the city skylines like other states do. Instead of tall buildings filling the air above, we have trees and wildlife. Whether you’re in Cleveland, Columbus, or Cincinnati, our Midwestern state has maintained and stayed in touch with Mother Nature. And this connection to nature has found its way inside our homes, as well.

Places like Urbn Timber, Pathway Tables, and Edgework Creative have found ways to preserve the natural beauty of wood plus add touches to enhance the final product. From large scale dining room tables to a stand for your office space, these products are just as much a work of art as they are a functional piece for your day-to-day lives. (614) had the chance to catch up with these three Columbus designers to get a better understanding of the trend of trees and how to go about getting these in your homes.

URBN TIMBER

(614): What are some of your favorite designs you’ve made recently?

We are always trying to innovate with new designs and concepts for our live edge furniture. A recent favorite of ours is a vanity completed for a couple in German Village. It features a live edge cherry counter and backsplash with a clear glass sink atop, and a stainless-steel base with a lower cherry shelf. Creating furniture that is both aesthetically appealing and functional is most important to us. Another favorite is a thirty-foot black walnut bar we built and installed for Nocterra Brewing in Powell, OH that showcases two waterfall miters and looks like it is growing up the wall!

The site also includes different pigment sets, glitters, and oils. How can someone who owns a wooden furnishing use these to elevate what they already have?

Along with providing fully finished furniture to consumers, we also sell raw live edge slabs, epoxy, pigments, wood finish, and steel bases separately so individuals and other local businesses can create their own furnishings. Sustainably salvaging trees from the Columbus region and offering them back to our community as usable products is the core of Urbn Timber’s mission.

(614): What are some mistakes you see people make when it comes to decorating their wooden furnishings?

When it comes to fine hardwood furniture, it is important to remember it is a natural product and needs to be built and maintained for longevity. Purchase your live edge furniture from a reputable company with professionally trained craftsmen. Make sure the wood has been properly kiln-dried and your furniture is built to allow the wood to expand and contract through the seasons. Your furniture maker should provide a proper cleaning kit based on the finish they used to help maintain the wood overtime.

(614): What are some ways people could use your furnishings in their homes or offices?

Being a fully custom woodshop has provided us and our clients the opportunity to design and create some truly unique furnishings. Kitchen tables, islands, coffee tables, bar tops, sofa tables, counter tops, desks, vanities, and shelves are among the most common designs we create. More creative pieces we’ve made are a vertical ash wine rack and a maple bookshelf that featured three steel and glass shelves. The possibilities are nearly endless!

PATHWAY TABLES

(614): Can you also talk about the transformation the wood goes from from starting as a log and into a finished table?

The transformation from log to a finished table, we try to find the oldest, ugliest, most twisted and knotted trees we can that no one else wants. Those trees have the most character and unique grain patterns inside of them. Once we have the trees in our yard, we decide which way we want to mill it into table top slabs, really that’s just looking at the tree to decide how it’s going to yield the best character slabs.

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Once we have it sawed, we photograph each slab, sticker and band it together to be put away for one to two years of air-drying time. Once its air dried, we bring it into our kiln to finish the drying process. Finally, we’re able to get our creative minds working and start finding the pieces we want to use to make tables, from there it’s a multiple step process from flattening and sanding, filing any cracks or voids with resin or glass, to finally applying the finish to the wood.

(614): What about the natural wood grain do you guys love?

Each and every piece is different, the way we slab the wood ensures that we don’t ever have two pieces that are the same. The natural wood grain allows you to be creative and utilize the flaws and characteristics that each slab has to showcase its natural beauty.

(614): What are some ways your tables could be used in a home? Or in an office?

Our pieces are functional in their purpose, they can be used as formal dining tables, conference tables, coworking desks, coffee tables for the living room.

(614): Can you talk about the different approaches you take to making a table? (i.e. the walnut river table compared to the maple dining room table)

The different approach to making a table really depends on the wood being used, if we have slabs that have a lot of character such as holes, knots, wild edges that’ll lend itself to a river style table. Where as slabs that don’t have those voids and character are still great and can be used to create a more traditional dining table that is made using two solid pieces of wood. In the end depends on how creative you want to get, the river table is more functional art and the standard dining table is more traditional.

EDGEWORK CREATIVE

(614): What are some trends you are noticing with wood furnishings?

We’ve been seeing a big trend towards wood countertops and kitchen islands. It’s a nice way to incorporate a natural material into a sometimes cold and sterile space. We have also been doing a lot of whitewashed finishes on dining tables and desks. It provides a crisp and clean look but you can still see the wood grain.

(614): How can someone get wood furnishings into their decor scheme that doesn’t have much wood?

Mirrors, mantles, beams and shelving! These are simple and small ways to incorporate natural materials into your home.

(614): What are most of your clients using your wood furnishings for?

We build lots of dining and kitchen tables. There’s an intimacy that you share around a table. It’s where you spend quality time—it’s the hub of the home. Your table is where you share in life’s small moments and create new memories. Hearing about the memories being made at our tables is the highlight of what we do.

(614): What is a big mistake you see people make when purchasing something wooden?

Staining walnut. It’s the most incredible wood species- the movement, color and richness can’t be touched. Our preference is to let the material shine and not stain it

To find your wooden furnishing, visit edgeworkcreative.co, pathwaytables.com, or urbntimber.com.

millennial | writer | human

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Hunger Games: Wendy’s tabletop RPG is a fast-food fantasy feat

Mike Thomas

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Distracted by the raucous sounds of the festival beyond the garden walls, you almost don’t notice the shrouded figure emerging from behind the old statue. You and your companions turn to leave, but hesitate when the mysterious man calls out to each of you by name. When pressed, the stranger warns of a malevolent force known as “Hunger,” which is gathering its power somewhere deep in the nearby forest. He knows you and your stalwart party of adventurers will do what must be done...

If you’ve spent any time with Dungeons & Dragons or its various progeny, you can probably guess where this is going. A journey into the enchanted forest, traps, treasures, attribute checks and plenty of scribbled notes on pieces of scratch paper. But even if you’re an old hand at the tabletop stuff, odds are your campaign never included golden chicken nuggets and sentient cheeseburgers.

Dublin-based fast food chain Wendy’s has never shied away from the improbable. When nearly all of burgerdom had settled on circular patties, Wendy’s went square. Competitors hocking frozen meat? Wendy’s tackled logistical challenges to serve “fresh, never frozen” burgers. Even in the new frontier of social media, the brand was an early standout in the trend of corporate-tied accounts adopting sassy, comical voices.

The trick with innovation is that it’s hard to stay ahead of the curve. With a Twitter war raging between two Southern-style chicken sandwiches, or Colonel Sanders launching a finger lickin’ good dating app, a witty online presence can only take you so far. In the increasingly polarizing and absurd meta-conversation surrounding fast food online, how’s a brand to stay above the fray? If you’re Wendy’s, you swing for a critical hit by launching a comically overwrought, burger-themed D&D-style table-top game.

Photos: Brian Kaiser

At first blush, the rulebook for “Feast of Legends: Rise From the Deep Freeze” seems like nothing more than a marketing campaign disguised as an absurd extended joke. Upon cracking into the 91-page tome, (made available by Wendy’s as a free downloadable PDF) would-be adventurers will discover that this game actually packs some beef.

If that last pun caused you to cringe, this is probably not the game for you. The adventure depicted here takes place in “the realm of Beef’s Keep,” located in the kingdom of Freshtovia. Ruled over by the good queen Wendy, Freshtovia is locked in an eternal struggle against the wickedness of the United Clown Nations and its Jester king (a thinly-veiled allusion to Ronald McDonald).

In spite of never letting the user forget the Wendy’s angle, the Feast of Legends rulebook is every bit as thoughtful and detailed as many traditional, non-burger-based RPGs. Before tackling the main adventure, the reader can peruse around 25 pages explaining everything from gameplay mechanics to character creation and the various “orders”— think classes in D&D—that a player can elect to join. OK, so maybe the weapons sheet includes sporks and spatulas for your warrior from the esteemed “Order of the Chicken Sandwich” to wield—the fact remains that this RPG seems like it might have some real potential for fun (in addition to the fun of mocking its very existence, that is).

Eager to put this theory to the test, an enterprising group of (614) staff set out on a quest to explore the realm of Freshtovia. Our goal? To put the playability of this bizarre game to the test, and to perhaps uncover why, if for any reason, Wendy’s made the damn thing in the first place.

From the beginning, some members of the party were less than enthused at the prospect of playing a tabletop RPG, let alone one with references to Frostys and spicy nugs jammed in at every turn. By the time the group was confronted with its first puzzle—a riddle scrawled on a statue of the late Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas—all trepidation had subsided. Marketing ploy or not, the players were consumed by the game world.

Playing through an early level of mazes, the absurdity of the French Fry Forest or stumbling upon a golden baked potato was all but moot. By the time the party encountered the game’s first boss—a dreaded monster called “Hunger,” the supplied character sheets had all been personalized with care, complete with detailed portraiture of each player’s imagined warrior. The buy-in was complete. We were actually invested in an imaginary land populated by Wendy’s foodstuffs.

Without question, the minds at Wendy’s marketing department had crafted a game that could hook players and keep them hungry for more. The only nagging question that remained was, why? The intricate rulebook and campaign, complete with countless maps and professional illustrations, was surely the work of hundreds of hours of effort. Would anyone really go to such lengths for a joke with no punchline? Is Wendy’s really that desperate to target the tabletop gaming crowd?

One possible answer comes via the rulebook’s explanation of “buffs” and “debuffs,” or powerups and hindrances that will affect characters during gameplay. According to the rules, eating Wendy’s products in real life will yield various advantages to your in-game character (+1 strength for any cheeseburger item) while consuming competitor’s food produces an undesirable effect.

Whether produced to sell burgers-as-powerups to a select group of fast food and RPG-obsessed basement dwellers, or simply existing as one of the biggest viral marketing flexes of all time, Feast of Legends provides a surprisingly immersive and enjoyable play experience. Will it bring gamers to Wendy’s in droves? Probably not. But if our office’s experience with the game is any indication, it might be enough to hook unlikely RPG players on the tabletop experience—one enchanted burger at a time.

To embark on your own adventure, download the Feast of Legends rulebook at FeastOfLegends.com.

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4 cozy cabins in Ohio that’ll make winter your favorite season

Colleen Quinn

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Yes, winter is cold, but with cold comes cozy! 

Picture this: You’ve got your fuzzy socks on, a cup of hot coco in one hand, and a good book in the other. The sound of a crackling fireplace lingers in the background as you glance out to the snow-coated country side and realize…you are in your own little snow globe paradise!

Sounds lovely doesn’t it?

Oh, and let us not forget the best part…hot tubs! There is something so satisfactory about soaking in steaming hot water as the chill of winter wonderland beauty surrounds you, am I right?

No need for winter blues when you can create your own winter oasis at one of the many cozy cabins located right here in Ohio!  

Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls

A perfect place for a relaxing cabin getaway. The Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls is tucked away on 75 acres of woodland forest, conveniently surrounded on three sides by Hocking Hills State Park. Enjoy a secluded and relaxing weekend soaking in the whirlpool hot tub, snuggling up by the gas log fire, and enjoying the peaceful serenity provided by the wintery nature around you. 

Freshly-baked cookies always await your arrival here and all accommodations include a hearty breakfast, too.

Oakwood Cabins

Also located in the winter wonderland of Hocking Hills are the cozy log cabins of Oakwood. Each charming yet modern cabin is set in a secluded location, giving you the privacy required for a rejuvenating getaway. Feel the cold breeze on your face as you sink into the screened-in outdoor hot tub and relax away each day by watching old DVD’s. If adventure is calling your name, strap on some winter hiking boots to explore the nearby Ash or Old Man’s Cave!

Murphin Ridge Inn

Escape to the Amish country of southern Ohio this winter by visiting the quaint cabins at Murphin Inn. Marvel at the snow-coated views of the Appalachian foothills, spanning across 140 acres of rolling woodland and farm. Spend the day exploring the Amish-owned boutiques, antique shops, and bakeries in the neighborhoods nearby. Upon return, cozy up by the indoor or outdoor fire pits with a good book and great company. Come morning time, enjoy a bountiful country breakfast with freshly squeezed orange juice. 

Mohican Pines Cabin Rentals

Peacefully located on quiet country roads far from traffic or noise you will find the luxury cabins of Mohican Pines near Mohican State Park. The cabins are far from any town, allowing the stars to shine brighter than ever. Admire the snow covered pine forest and valley from the patio or steamy hot tub and enjoy your winter bliss. 

Grab your loved ones and make this winter extra cozy. Beware, you may find yourself so cozy that winter becomes your new favorite season!

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2 tiny Columbus Zoo babies bring big hope for endangered species

614now Staff

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The newest babies at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium may be small, but they bring big hope for one of the most endangered species on the planet.

On November 1 and 3, reptile keepers at the Zoo’s Shores region successfully hatched two rare yellow-headed temple turtles (Heosemys annandalii), the first ever hatched in an indoor zoological environment. The breakthrough is critical in efforts to boost the numbers of temple turtles, which are facing extinction, according to a release from the zoo.

Keepers note that the two hatchlings are "very active" and "very healthy." They are being cared for in behind-the-scenes habitats as they continue to grow stronger. Right now, the hatchlings are about the size of a racquetball and weigh approximately 80 grams–the same weight as a small tomato. They will grow to be up to about 2 feet long and weigh about 35 pounds.

These two turtles were the only ones to survive out of their mother's nest. Of five eggs, one turtle hatched on its own, and the care team helped another break out of its shell when it was experiencing some difficulties. Two other eggs did not contain viable hatchlings, and the fifth egg did not hatch.

“Our team is extremely proud of hatching these turtles, as well as being able to do so inside the Columbus Zoo’s Reptile House," said Becky Ellsworth, Curator of the Zoo’s Shores region. "This is a wonderful achievement as our Animal Care staff has been able to learn more information about this rare and important species, contributing significant knowledge to the zoological community working to help protect these turtles."

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