For the past 42 years, the CABA Company, a family-owned business based in New Mexico, has been sourcing tree bark from Mexico and rendering it into decorative veneers used in wall coverings, lampshades, and furniture. Recently, the company has expanded the design possibilities ofBarkskin by encasing the flat, paperlike material between sheets of glass. Aptly named Barkskin Glass, this new, more durable version can be used for countertops, tabletops, room dividers or in other instances where a rigid panel is required.
Barkskin itself (photo left) is made by boiling the tree bark in water, pounding it flat and cutting it into strips that are then woven or randomly arrangedtogether. The resulting sheets are then hand-pounded and finally sun-dried, producing a material with an appearance that ranges from stone-like to leathery to lacy.
The company started experimenting with sandwiching the product between laminated glass about seven years ago. After experimenting with several manufacturing partners, the lamination is now handled by a firm in Southern California, from which the final product is distributed.
Barkskin Glass comes mirror-backed or as a translucent slab. The material is intended for indoor use only, and UV protection is recommended in areas with direct sunlight (to protect the colorfastness of the bark insert). Though moderately water resistant, it's not recommended for moist areas like tub or shower surrounds. Barkskin Glass is available in sizes ranging from 4-in. by 4-in. squares to 48-in. by 96-in. panels. The largest slabs can weigh more than 200 pounds and should be installed by an experienced glazier or someone with large-glass installation experience. Barkskin is priced about $100 per sq. ft. and has a lead time of six to eight weeks. Each slab is warrantied for five years against manufacturer's defects.