“The Forest Within” from Blue Ridge Country Magazine

Bark House shingle siding experts and co-founders, Chris & Marty McCurry, peeling bark from tulip poplar

It had been a long time since I last visited with my old friend and colleague, Nan Chase, author of this article.  We first met when she was living in Boone and I was in Blowing Rock.  Two Type A’s, we quickly fell into a feverish pace of working together.  Months after Bark House Style  was completed, we both relocated and our stories continued.

I always loved Nan’s way of quickly getting to the point.  She has a real gift for seeing a thing and stating it as it is.  And so, I was delighted when she visited our shop and we caught up on favorite things – nature, friendship, community and home.

 I hope you will enjoy Nan’s article in the Jan /Feb issue of Blue Ridge Country Magazine.  I have pulled a few excerpts for the blog.  This issue of the magazine is very special as well – and I’ve outlined that for you at the end as a note from the editor.

For Marty and Chris, a husband-and wife team who founded Highland Craftsmen in 1990 to produce poplar bark building shingles, the forest is everything: their livelihood, yes, but also a connection to nature and a way to use woodland textures to soften the hard edges of modern life.

By living inside this snug all-bark house I “got” it —the McCurrys’ passion for poplar bark not just as a superior building material but as a way to bring the forest into the city and right into the home, to meld the ancient look and feel of tree bark with the convenience of today’s technology.

…the couple found a network of woodsmen throughout the Appalachian Mountain region who cleanly strip the bark as poplar trees are harvested for timber; today

Highland Craftsmen buys from some 500 vendors who bring bark fresh to Spruce Pine for kiln drying.

In bringing finely textured bark panels and related forest products inside commercial buildings, rather than just using bark shingles outside, Chris sees how woodland tranquility can soothe jangled nerves in some of the most crowded parts of the world, including Europe and Asia.

“We are so disconnected,” she says. “We go to indoor gyms, we’re on our iPads, we’re texting back and forth. So when people say to me, ‘Is this real?’ I really hear what they are saying. They are saying: We’re disconnected enough from the natural world that this is exciting. It’s authentic. It has depth, texture.

It is something real. It’s not plastic, it’s not fake. The attributes of the material reflect the attributes of this region.Marty McCurry, The Bark House at Highland Craftsmen Inc, is looking up at the Tulip Poplar Trees

 

Kurt Rheinheimer’s love of the mountains of the south is evident in his work and life.  This is what the Editor in Chief of Blue Ridge Country Magazine had to say about this special issue of the magazine:

As Blue Ridge Country prepares to enter its 29th year of exploring and celebrating the Mountains of the South I’m as excited as I’ve ever been about an edition. …The January/February 2016 issue will have bigger pages, for one, allowing our famous mountain photos to run a little bigger.

And more pages too, to run more of the full-page and other photos than in any issue to date. And more room for great stories…on great travel plans for 2016, on the history and culture of the mountains, on the quaint-and-quirky stories …

[Our] readers have several things in common:

  • That love for the region, which translates into getting out and exploring its byways and highways, its attractions and small towns, its repositories of history and culture.
  • And inquisitiveness that compels them to seek credible, actionable information on how best to get out and do that exploring.

That discerning passion results in bonds between our readers and our content.

We get it Kurt.  Discerning passion for nature and quality gets us very excited, too.  We at the Bark House are happy to be in this great community.

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