Heartwood refers to the dead wood at the center of trees,and is very strong and stable. All wood starts out as sapwood, and it takes time to develop the heartwood. It is found in older
trees and not in many younger, quick-harvested trees. Reclaimed barn wood can often contain a lot of heartwood, since the trees cut years ago were older, possibly wild trees, not farmed, and contained more heartwood. Heartwood is valuable for its strength, and is less susceptible to insects and water damage. I think the name “Heartwood” reflects the use of strong, reclaimed materials, but also the heart involved in each creation!
Heartwood Rocking Horses and Toys was started in 2013 by Alicia Williams. Alicia grew up in Grand Rapids, MI and always loved animals and horses. She grew up drawing horses and won awards for her charcoal drawings in high school and in 4-H. She then attended Houghton College, graduating with a BA in Sociology and Music.
Over the years since then, she has enjoyed many exciting outdoor jobs, including as a wilderness and adventure sports guide for troubled youth. She really enjoys the outdoors, as well as seeing kids move and have fun outside.
She and her husband Brian have completed two thru-hikes, the Pacific Crest Trail and the Continental Divide trail. Here she was exposed to logging sites that left beautiful forested mountain sides trashed by vehicles and downed trees. Hiking through those logging sites has influenced her decision to use reclaimed lumber in her woodworking projects.
Another of her jobs included working as Construction Site Manager for Habitat for Humanity of Durham, NC. It was there where she learned building and construction skills, and started to enjoy the smaller details of the home building process. She took a few wood working classes at NC State in Raleigh, and built her first rocking horse, the Racer. It was then that her dream developed to become a rocking horse and toy maker. She took a few more classes to learn some carving skills, and built a few more rocking horses using Anthony Dew’s The Rocking Horse Maker book as a guide. Now she combines her love of horses, drawing, building, getting kids to play, and lumber sustainability in her dream of being a rocking horse maker!
Alicia currently lives in Asheville, NC with her husband. She enjoys hiking in the mountains, swimming in waterfalls, and walking her dog, Butters. She works full-time as a laboratory technician in a hospital blood bank, and continues to carve as many projects as she can.