Wax On, Wax Off

The loose gravel had probably begun to dig in and dimple her shins as our superintendent sat on the chilly driveway, rubbing the last coat of wax in the finished door. I stood over her, trying to block out of the bright New Mexican mid-morning sun, snapping picture after picture of the fascinating last detail of the multiple day process that was perfecting the doors to Onsite’s new office.

She explained to me that in order to obtain the old-world Santa Fe look, something that I’ve come to describe as Imperial Spanish, that the doors had first been cleaned with mineral spirits. This removed any dirt or debris from the doors and also, opened its pores. As a woman who has spent most of my life trying to hide pores and imperfections in my own exterior, I found that odd. Lynn, our superintendent, explained that she wanted the pores to be opened so that the painstakingly chosen stain would seep deep into the wood and change the color while not robbing the wood of its natural patterns.

The wax, our owner explained to me, is a soft coating, softer than Polyurethane. Highly synthetic and extremely flammable, Polyurethane sets into hard, almost candy coating. And of course, our wax, a mixture of beeswax, carnauba wax, and citrus oils, was nowhere near as TOXIC as common polyurethane coatings. Our owner later told me that this was the exact reason why our superintendent spent hour after hour on the chilly ground, going through her own version of Karate Kid (wax on, wax off).

“If you use Polyurethane, you have to use paint thinner to clean the brushes and tools you put it on with. That all runs into the sewage system and into the ground.” Our owner, Lew Lewis, explained to me. He, himself, has a home sustained by a well on his property.

Lewis is also a beekeeper and for the past several months, has struggled to keep his bees happy and alive, a common problem for beekeepers in areas that have high levels of development. If his bees have been visiting local water sources that have been contaminated by chemicals, such as Polyurethane, it could cause Colony Collapse, which in turn can drastically affect an entire area’s ecosystem.

“Waxing is one the oldest traditions in woodworking, and of course, beeswax has been around for forever. It dries hard. You can still wipe the door down with a Pledge wipe, but the wood can still breath. Poly just coats it and it loses something.”

“She’s also not breathing in a synthetic product.” Lewis said speaking of our superintendent who is also his daughter.

The wax we used for our gorgeous doors is also a green product and is VOC acceptable. Time-consuming yes, but after seeing the finished product, I am now definitely a fan of wax sealing.

The stain set in rich chocolate, slowly bleeding into a deep eggplant in certain places. Leaning against the creamy Venetian Plastered walls, the effect was dramatic and instantly gave the impression of tradition.

I INSTANTLY fell in love with them. Instead of a harsh shine, the wood almost glows, radiating with pride, and with each passing day, the color riches and the wood finds itself being continuously accentuated rather than unforgivingly preserved.

I have never been more excited to move into anywhere than I am to move into THIS OFFICE!

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