FFrom the beginning of time woodworkers have been revered for their craftsmanship, skill and the beauty they create from the nature that surrounds them. Here, in the majestic Kootenay’s where nature reigns, Daniel Nelson, artist and owner of Driftwood Works shares his story.
What is your background and could you describe how you got started in woodworking?
Well I would have to say it all started in grade 9 woodworking class. It was the only class I really enjoyed and got a good grade in. After that I became a professional skateboarder and traveled the world, I didn’t start working with wood again until I was 25. I started learning to build skateboard ramps and such with my friend Sebo in Vancouver. That taught me lots about how to shape the transitions for ramps and tons more cool ways of using tools.
Where do you find the inspiration and the materials for your pieces? How does the Kootenay’s in general inspire you to create?
The inspiration comes more from driftwood then any other wood I work with because it has no rules! Everyone sees something different when they look at pieces of driftwood. When I walk down the local beaches, lakes and rivers in this beautiful place we all call home, wood just jumps out at me and I can almost see what I can create, even before I touch it or turn it over. The Kootenay’s is a very magical place in so many ways, positive people, fresh air and water equals clear minds and drives my passion and imagination to its fullest!
How has your art inspired you to give back to the community and is there any future projects or charitable endeavours planned for the future?
I have lots more ideas to come, I think as a small business you should always find a way to give back to the community that made you grow and supported you along the way.
Could you describe the process of one of your creations?
So first it starts with sourcing out a tree that has fallen from, say a storm or was dead standing. I bring my mill to the tree and mill slabs at 3’’ thick, get them packed into my truck and drive them home. I then unpack the truck, stack the slabs with spacers between each slab, which lets the air flow between them for about a year. They are then stacked into my homemade kiln to dry out for another 2 months or less, depending on the moisture content in the wood.
When I receive an order for let’s say, a dining table, I match the dimensions with a piece of wood in the kiln. It is then cut and planed to the right thickness, width and length. I sand both sides then apply the finish, either a stain or clear satin, depending on the client’s vision. Finishing touches are measure, cut and weld the base for the legs of the table.
When I build any type of furniture for someone, the wood is local and my hands have touched every inch of it. I know it is the best quality product you can buy locally.
Could you explain how you feel your art and the sustainability of it (the use of naturally occurring materials) has allowed you or inspired you to live your authentic life?
Being able to use driftwood or salvaged logs to mill into slabs is a great feeling. Most of the time people buy furniture from Ikea or other companies that mass produce products and they only last so long.
They are then thrown into the dumps and landfills, creating more of a mess then there needs to be. Using wood that is already on the beaches or in the forest is a great way to revitalize the wood and bring life back to it. The added bonus, a quality piece of furniture made in Canada.
Where can people find your pieces and do you have any big plans for future?
I always have goals and plans ahead, I like to keep them secret but I’ll share one! I’ve bought property and have started building a cement skateboard park and plan on having local youth come out for a couple weeks in the summer. I hope to teach lessons on skateboarding and also how to build things out of wood, basically offering a space to open up kid’s imaginations.
Daniel started his Josh Evin Love Bowl GoFundMe Fundraiser to bring his dream into fruition. It’s an amazing opportunity for Kootenay youth and would super cool to see happen in our beautiful mountain town.