As a child, Oscar DeLaminated hated anything to do with wood. The child of 60s parents who had gone into plastics, he grew up in an artificially created environment filled with styrofoam, vinyl and polypropylene. Anything that could be dyed orange, was.
When he grew up, he rebelled. “I opted out of the 80s corporate greed and into sustainable living,” Oscar said.
It’s a passion he’s maintained, and one that has brought him truly back to the land. “I don’t do anything; I don’t consume anything, that involves resources I can’t remake or replace. This container I’m holding is capturing all the carbon dioxide that comes out every time I exhale. I’m going to dump it out on top of all the trees I’m growing — kind of like watering them, with their own version of fresh air.”
Those trees are part of the project that brought Oscar to woodworkers’ attention: they’re the source material for his new line of wooden clothing.
“I’ve failed any tests of mechanical aptitude I’ve ever taken,” explained Oscar. “Plus, I don’t want to use any metal parts. I won’t be building any cotton gins, and there’s the whole crazy-scary witch thing with the spinning wheel. I’ve pretty much run out of options for where to get my clothes.
“I did go the traditional fig-leaf route for a while, but my fig trees kept dying. I guess they didn’t like the refreshing January breezes off of Lake Superior.” Now, Oscar is using a different part of the tree to create his wardrobe. Not the furniture type of wardrobe — he doesn’t have one of those, as he considers it a waste of time and money — but the kind that’s a collection of all of his clothes. At the moment, he has two outfits.
“I did birchbark shorts for summer last year; they really matched the peeling on my skin after I’d been out in the sun absorbing solar heat into my bodily fat for winter storage.
“Now, I’m stylin’ it in oak: hardwood, man, that’s the way to go.”
Committed these days to using only local woods, Oscar does admit that it’s often difficult for him to make a choice between turning his oak or walnut trees into an outfit or saving the nuts for a nutritious potage. Sometimes, he’ll just trim off a branch or two with his homemade bow saw to use for his material, and leave the rest to keep on growing.
Each new outfit is unique — “pattern, schmattern,” says Oscar. “I just make what I make” — and he also highlights its natural decomposability. “Say you eat a nice dinner of homegrown beans and home-slaughtered bacon,” he said. “In a little while, you might be feeling the aftereffects — but you can just leave ’em there in the woods. It’s kind of like shedding your skin. Next day, you whip up a new outfit.”
Oscar’s wooden clothing has additional safety benefits, as well: for woodworkers who use a table saw, the clothing, especially when it’s made of hardwood, acts as a sort of “armor-plated” (“Hey! Wooden armor…,” Oscar says) safety guard.
Also, the U.S. Coast Guard has expressed interest in testing the wooden clothing’s use as a floatation device. Travel plans to Niagara Falls may be in Oscar’s future.