Put a Bird on It – Chimney Swifts Return to Portland

Firstly, my apologies for the egregiously overused Portlandia line, but this post really is about putting pictures of birds on things. You see, the transition from summer to fall is a magical time in the Pacific NW. The leaves are beginning to turn, the smell of fresh rain is in the air, and desperate sun seekers spend hours stuck in traffic returning from the coast on Sunday afternoons—a small price to pay for one last chance at a sunny beach weekend. But within Portland, the one true sign of the arrival of fall is the return of the Vaux’s Swifts, who spend their late evenings swarming the Chapman Elementary School chimney before eventually roosting within.


The swirling of the Swifts into the chimney at Chapman School is a site pleasing to the eye. Image by Chad Draizin

The so-called Chimney Swifts, which now number in the thousands, have been roosting at Chapman Elementary since the 1980’s. The school was actually modified to discontinue use of the chimney in order to support the roosting avians, a move that we certainly appreciate as we, ourselves, put great effort into living in balance with the natural world. Over the few, brief weeks that the Swifts are in town before continuing their southward migration, they will also draw large flocks of human beings who are eager to witness the erratic majesty of the birds’ flight. It is one of the most unique natural occurrences in this area, and presents a perfect photo opportunity.


Chapman School – temporary home to the Swifts for the month of September. Image by Nichole Alhadeff

If you plan to photograph the Swifts this year, here are some things to keep in mind. A long lens will help you zoom in on the birds, which are quite small, and see over the crowds of people. Steadiness is key as the light will be low, so a tripod will help, but be mindful of those behind you. Most importantly, don’t let your pictures be lost in time in a Facebook album—make prints! This, of course, is where we come in. Plywerk panels, being made from sustainably harvested bamboo and maple, are a perfect medium on which to put birds. (Well, pictures of birds, we mean.) In fact, 5 out of 5 Chimney Swifts agree that Plywerk is the preferable alternative to traditional picture frames (something about birds not liking glass; we can understand).

Get out there while you can, and don’t forget to send us your pictures so we can take some Plywerk and put a bird on it! (I just can’t help myself!)

Posted in Eco-Conscious, Photo Display Products, Photo Mounting, Photo Panels, Photography, Portland Travel Guide | Leave a comment

Plywerk in the Chinook Book!

What’s better than having your photos or artwork mounted on our bamboo or maple art panels? Nope, it’s not a puppy. It’s getting your Plywerk mounting for 20% off! In the latest edition of the Chinook Book, you’ll find a coupon valid for just that: 20% off any Plywerk purchase. Because we love you.


You can save 20% off your next order when you use your Chinook Book coupon either online or in person at our Portland workshop!

For those of you who may not know what it is, the Chinook Book is a coupon book with a green twist: it aims to support businesses that emphasize sustainability, fair employment practices, and local sourcing of goods and materials. Of course, you already know about our approach to eco-conscious art framing. We use only sustainably-sourced bamboo and maple, and even upcylced walnut for li’l Stanley. We also use the most eco-friendly packing materials we can find that still offer sufficient protection for your Plywerk order while in transit.

The Chinook Book rewards companies that meet its strict criteria by offering them exposure to a wider audience, and it rewards eco-conscious consumers by offering them discounts at these green businesses. It’s a win for everyone! When you shop at a business featured in the Chinook Book, you can rest assured that your money is going to an organization that cares about your community, your environment, and you. Just like Captain Planet, with our powers combined, we can help make a positive difference for our community, both local and global. So load up the Chinook Book iOS or Android app (or pick up a printed copy) and send us your images!

Posted in Beyond Plywerk, Gifts, Photo Display Products, Photo Mounting, Photo Panels | Leave a comment

Pears and Prints from Al at Digicraft

You may have noticed a theme here at Plywerk: we like to partner with companies that provide us tasty treats. Ice cream from Salt and Straw, tea and pastries from the Jade Teahouse, and now pears from Digicraft.


Al treats us with the most delicious pears from his farm every summer! Image by Kim Nguyen

Pears from Digicraft? That doesn’t make sense! Aren’t they a high-end large-format print lab? Well yes, yes they are, and we do indeed get all of our large format prints from them, which is why our largest bamboo art panels look so amazing when they are finished. With nearly 40 years of print and design experience in Portland, Digicraft knows their stuff, and we trust them to deliver only the highest-quality archival printing.

We also trust Al, the owner, to deliver us crates of delicious pears from his orchard every summer. A man of many talents, Al gives his pear orchard the same kind of attention and care he gives to his prints, producing delectable color with rich tonality that is full of flavor. (That comparison didn’t quite work; we don’t recommend eating a photo mounted on bamboo, no matter how delicious it looks).


We love Digicrafts prints and pears! Image by Kim Nguyen

At Plywerk, we have a commitment to delivering the highest-quality photo mounting products, but we also have a commitment to our local community. Finding a local supplier for high-end pears was not easy, but Al of Digicraft generously stepped up to the plate to sate our collective appetite for quality produce. The fact that he happened to own a digital print lab was a pretty lucky coincidence. Thanks, Al—we can’t wait for next summer’s pears! And thanks to Digicraft for all the great work making our customers’ photo and art prints look fantastic!

Posted in Beyond Plywerk, Photo Mounting, Summer | Leave a comment

Space Sale

As a child, I often looked up at the stars and wondered what was out there. I marveled at the thought of other worlds surrounding other suns, and dreamed of the adventure of space exploration. It is a dream many share, including none other than our own young Stanley, who recently applied to be a Mars colonist as part of Mars One’s planned one-way mission to the red planet.

2014-Sept - Space Sale

Mars One, based out of the Netherlands, is a non-profit company that seeks to establish a permanent human colony on Mars. As it turns out, they are pretty serious about the “human” part, which has left Stanley grounded. We cobbled together a spaceship from our locally-supplied cardboard boxes and EcoWrap, but this didn’t ease his dejection. Even Maggie couldn’t console him. That’s when Plywerk founder, Kjell van Zoen (also of the the Netherlands) stepped in and pulled some strings. To sustain a human colony so far from our own planet, surely the colonists would need a way to display their memories of loved ones from back home. Stanley, with his sustainable build, portable form, and ease of use, was the natural choice as an alternative to traditional photo frames.

Despite Kjell’s best efforts, Stanley still won’t make the cut for the Mars mission (which now has over 200,000 real human applicants), but Mars One has offered Stanley the chance to apply for a free ride into space and back as part of their preparation and test mission. While perhaps not as cool as actually going to Mars, we’re happy that Stanley will be coming back home.


We’re happy Stanley is sticking around here on Earth.

To boost Stanley’s spirits and offer moral support, we’re offering 15% off all Stanley products through October 5th. We can’t guarantee he’ll make the cut this time, but you can still show your support for space exploration, for dreams, for adventure, and for handmade, eco-friendly photo framing by contributing to a Stanley today.

And we’ve heard it through the grapevine that he’ll be just as happy putting your memories on display in your home as he would be on Mars.

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Looking for Temporary Production Assistants

TITLE: Temporary Production Assistants
REPORTS TO: Production Manager
LOCATION: Portland, OR


Plywerk is looking for some urgent temporary production workers. We’ll be running production from 8-6ish on Thursday Sept 25th, through Tuesday 30th (none on Sunday).

Duties include sanding panels, applying cold-mount adhesive roll, trimming adhesive and packing orders. Woodshop experience is hugely preferred.To apply, send an email to jobs@plywerk.com NOW.

Plywerk Woodshop





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