Walking Canes and Walking Sticks: The Functions of Wood

This is the fifth installment in a series on the history, function, and uses of walking canes and walking sticks.

© 2012 Brazos Walking Sticks

The word “wood” is not synonymous with “tree.” Wood, per se, is merely a fibrous tissue found within the context of the entire tree. Apart of from the tree, wood makes no sense; as an integral part of the tree, wood can be the tree’s most defining characteristic. The versatility of wood, harvested from trees, offers a plethora of uses.

The functions of wood are many. Wood has been used the world over, for centuries, to build structures, furniture, musical instruments, boats, walking canes, utensils, and more.

Within the world of walking sticks and walking canes, many materials have been used throughout the years, but wood reigns supreme as the ultimate choice among practical users and aficionados alike.

The function of wood within the realm of walking support is simple, yet complex. The simplicity of its function means that wood’s primary purpose, within this context, is to support the user, often times in a step-by-step fashion. Without step-by-step support, wood becomes useless as a walking aid. On the other hand, the actual complexity of wood may sound, superficially, like a negative trait, but upon closer scrutinization wood’s weave of complexity is what allows wood artists to fashion their wares into a variety of useful — and beautiful — forms. Complexity itself consists of wood hue, density, hardness, flexibility, rigidity, and aesthetic appeal. Wooden walking canes, therefore, can naturally benefit from the complexity of wood, when produced by artists, as opposed to the “fires” of mass produced industry.

So whether it be complex or simple, the function of wood is what allows for a tapestry of wooden design; and that very tapestry can turn a seemingly simple creation like wood into something set apart, unique, fashionable, artistic, and completely useful.


Walking Canes and Walking Sticks: Essential Human Creativity

This is the third installment in a series on the history, function, and uses of walking canes and walking sticks.

© 2012 Brazos Walking Sticks

In essence, as a created being, man seeks to to partake in his own divinely inspired sense of personal and corporate creativity — and wooden walking sticks and walking canes offer an outlet for unparalleled artistic creativity.

Like all crafts of human creation, the potential for walking cane design is only hampered by the limit of the artisan’s creative instincts. In other words, the “limit,” when taken as a whole, within the context of a corporate human reality, is fundamentally not a limit at all, but rather an outpouring of innovation, dexterity, and passionate craftsmanship.

The process of creativity

The “essential” side of human creativity — as witnessed in handcrafted artistry — is a deep-seated force, a God-given drive, that compels men and women to explore, to endeavor, to create. In the world of walking sticks, walking canes, hiking staffs, trekking poles, et al, the intrinsic need to create is most fully realized with one simple material: wood. Only wood allows for a seemingly endless variety of natural color, grain, feel, texture, and density.


Walking Canes and Walking Sticks: Basic Human Need

This is the second installment in a series on the history, function, and uses of walking canes and walking sticks.

© 2012 Brazos Walking Sticks

The basic need of every human being is physical survival. There’s no doubt that our forerunners used sticks to help in their pursuit of essential human survival: from stoking a fire, to navigating treacherous terrain, to fending off wild animals, sticks have been part and parcel to human existence.

These days — in modern society at least — walking sticks aren’t necessary to aid in basic survival, but, without doubt, the echo of ancient utility reverberates to our present day: it’s heard — and sensed — when we intuitively pick up a stick when we need to navigate some tricky terrain; or when our intrinsic need for support (perhaps from injury) compels us to reach for something that can easily serve as an extra appendage; or when our visceral impulse for protection from animals leads us to reach for a felled limb while walking through otherwise innocuous neighborhoods.

Only in the past few decades has this basic impulse — the basic human need — moved from the instinctual idea of using saplings or tree limbs, to using non-holistic, man-made metal rods. While there may be some utility to the latter approach, the former has been humanity’s support-answer for nearly all of its existence. Furthermore, wooden walking sticks and walking canes offer a flexibility in handcrafted design that other materials can not emulate, yet another reason for wood’s popularity among those in need of a walking aid.


Walking Canes and Walking Sticks: An Introduction

This is the first installment in a series on the history, function, and uses of walking canes and walking sticks.

© 2012 Brazos Walking Sticks

For centuries walking canes and walking sticks have been utilized by human beings the world over. Since the beginning of recorded history, every culture, society, nation and people group has used wooden staffs for support, stability, protection, fashion … and so much more. It’s not hyperbolic to say that a wooden walking stick or a walking cane is perhaps the most natural extension a human being can employ, because, without even thinking about it, we instinctively pick up a stick when we need support.

Wooden walking canes and walking sticks are universal: from the humble shepherd to the elegant, aristocratic gentleman, a staff — whether stylish or utilitarian — is something human beings have reached for, and will continue to reach for, for centuries. Aside from clothing itself, no other material object has been so widely accepted, used, and trusted as walking sticks and walking canes.