Buyers that want a natural look in the home that moves away from modern metal, ceramic, and plastic ornaments can consider treen. The term "treen" describes small domestic wooden objects, typically antiques. Antique treen pieces are wonderful when displayed on tables, shelves, and mantelpieces. To keep antique treen in good condition so that it continues to last for a long time, owners should consider the features of the material and basic cleaning techniques.
Antique Treen Pieces
Antique treen pieces were often fully functional in homes in the past, and used for everyday living in the 15th and 16th centuries. Treen bowls ranged from flat to deep, and appeared at tables for serving soups and stews. Innkeepers served drinks in treen goblets, and treen spoons became common utensils. Treen pots stored spices in the kitchen and buckets collected water from wells for cooking and washing. Treen snuffboxes took on elaborate designs with some carved to look like animals and shoes. Treen sewing boxes were square or round and stored thread, needles, and thimbles. Georgian treen accents carved in the shape of elephants were attractive bookends.
Not every small wooden object is classified as treen. Typically, treen does not have a veneer or panels. For most collectors, treen is a hand carved wooden object without embellishments. The design of a treen box has clean lines, and treen barrels and bowls flow smoothly throughout the piece. Another hallmark of treen is its deep, rich colour, which gives it character. Exotic wood, such as vitae from Jamaica, exhibits these dark shades of brown and features in treen items used on the tables of royalty in the form of goblets and serving plates. Lighter and softer wood, such as sycamore, displays striations in deep gold and tan, and commonly appeared in village homes in the past.
Caring for Antique Treen
To protect antique treen from sun and heat, which can dry out the wood, it should be kept away from strong light and radiators. To maintain treen, owners should dust it regularly using a soft, dry cloth. They should avoid abrasive cleaners that strip the finish from the wood. Applying beeswax every six months helps to keep antique treen in good condition. The best method is to smooth the beeswax over the piece and let it dry overnight. Then polish it with a soft cloth until it shines. This brings out the natural colours in the wood.