Butterfield features ‘Wizard of Wood’


Butterfield Garage’s featured artist for December is Jim Rivers, a “Wizard of Wood” with his handcrafted furniture and sculptures. An artist talk at 6 p.m. on First Friday — Dec. 1 — will be an opportunity to experience Rivers’ unbridled creativity and his often curious, always charming pieces of furniture.

Rivers has been practicing woodcraft since he was a child; he began helping his woodcarver uncle search the woods for just the right piece. Wood searching has been an important part of his life ever since.

Over a lifetime, Rivers has developed an eye for seeing potential in unusual pieces of wood.

“Nothing gives me greater pleasure than to walk through the countryside and find a piece of the Almighty’s creation that I can take home, cut and polish, and turn into something that people will like,” he said.

His impressive wood collection includes cedar, sweet-gum, oak and pine. 

Lately, Rivers has been focusing on sculptures.

“A lot of times I’ll bring a piece of wood home, and I know there is something in there, but I can’t quite see it,” he said. “He studies a piece of wood to work out what’s already in there. He often discovers mythical creatures and shapes the sculpture to bring out those elements. 

What an untrained eye might see as an imperfection, Rivers sees as an opportunity. It’s a wonder to watch him work. Crude logs are sawed, shaped and sanded, coaxed by his touch and sense of the wood’s potential. Edges are not precise. Surprises are embraced. The final finished piece is a work of art, no two pieces are alike.

Rivers works in his wood shop every day and is continually collecting new wood and experimenting with new techniques. Butterfield has been graced with his mirrors, tables and benches for years, and they have become enthusiastically collected. Butterfield Garage will be freshly stocked with new pieces, placed throughout the gallery during the month of March.