Urban Ashes is built upon the belief that too many of our natural resources and human lives are wasted.  Our commitment to reclaiming these lost resources and lives enables us to create a collection of hand-made goods that tell a uniquely human story to pass down generations.

These hand-made goods include ready-made photo frames, custom framing moldings, home goods, custom-made furniture, and custom-designed products.

Urban Ashes frames are offered in gift shops and framing shops through the United States.  

Urban Ashes® ... maximizing America's under-utilized resources and human potential.  By employing Michigan's transitional and disabled labor force to create frames and moulding ReMade in Michigan by hand, Urban Ashes® is able to help empower our disadvantaged workers while providing a collection of highly unique goods built to last generations.

The Process

Each stick of moulding is hand-selected for its character unique to urban wood as well as the story it carries from the neighborhoods from which it came.  These are trees that grew on our streets, in our yards, in our parks and in our urban areas.  The wood's character is then enhanced when finished and rubbed out by hand using petroleum-free finishes.  In this process we are reviving the hand-made art form seemingly lost from our culture.

To complete this Made-In-Michigan product, the glass, the paper insert, and the backer are also made in Michigan.

Wood Variations and Character Marks

The Urban Ashes esthetic was founded upon the concept of Wabi Sabi, or the beauty of natural imperfections.  Therefore, all of the wood utilized by Urban Ashes bears a random character, which renders each frame unique.  To maximize the utilization of the wood and the variegation of the frames, we don't grade for high character nor for what is typically grade A wood.  We strive to provide a frame that embodies our concept of consistently inconsistent.  However, we do go to great lengths to ensure each frame, even one with high character, is structurally sound.


Each frame is hand-finished using age-old petroleum free finishes.  The process always takes the innate qualities of the finish, the wood and the hand application into account; therefore we again embrace and enhance the imperfections that arise within each frame and make them unique.

The Start

In 2008, Furniture Designer Paul M. Hickman set out to design a product that would increase the utilization of urban salvaged wood while drawing from Michigan's transitional or disabled workforce.  The answer was right in front of him.  Since 2005, Paul had been working with his two young sons creating collaborative prints, framing them and selling them.  The frames that they used were ready-made frames but were made out of the country and from who knows what kind of wood.  It occurred to him that these very frames could be made from "urban" woods and engages this under-utilized workforce.  Out of this concept, along with the blight of the Emerald Ash Borer, a whole new line of picture frames was then added to Paul's existing furniture and Urban Ashes was formed.

The Emerald Ash Borer

Since 2002, the Emerald Ash Borer has destroyed between 50 and 100 millon Ash trees in at least 15 states and 2 Canadian provinces.  The blight threatens to destroy most of the approximately seven billion Ash trees growing throughout North America.  While the Ash tree is the impetus behind the Urban Ashes name, our frames are not limited to Ash wood alone.  We utilize a wide variety of domestic urban wood species that are often discarded as waste wood.

Wood - Urban salvaged wood sourced from Southeast Michigan

Finishes - Hand applied milk pant & a petroleum-free linseed oil

Glass - Manufactured in Michigan

Paper Insert - Source from a 5th generation family-owned Michigan paper mill.  100% recycled content with a minimum of 30% post consumer waste.  Acid-free, lignin free with a neutral ph  Processed cholorine-free.  Produced with 100% green power via their own hydroelectric plant

Printing - Provided by a Michigan printer

Backer & Easel - Hardboard utilizing hardwoods manufactured in Minnesota with no added adhesives

Hardware - Manufactured in The USA

Urban Ashes offers wholesales pricing to qualified business partners.  Contact us for details on how to qualify.

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Custom Framing

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Ready-Made Frames

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Home Goods & Furniture

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Custom Goods

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Contact Us

Urban Ashes
713 W Ellsworth Road, Studio F
Ann Arbor  MI  48108


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