Rural Montana Magazine - November 2013 - page 7

same type of challenge. A
Fergus Electric lineman for
33 years, Jim, too, has a side-
line business: JR’s One of a
Kind Wood Creations (535-
3718). Like Curt, he doesn’t
advertise.
“I don’t want to get that
busy,” he says. “This is my
wintertime activity.”
Jim agrees that finding
appropriate scrap wood is
time-consuming, but he takes
advantage of every opportu-
nity to recycle wood that
would otherwise land in a
scrap heap. For example, all
of his kitchen cabinets are
crafted from underground
wire reels he collects from
the cooperative. If a friend
tears down a barn or out-
building, Jim collects the
weathered wood and turns it
into something beautiful and
utilitarian, such as the planter
on wheels that graces the liv-
ingroom of the home he
shares with wife Jeane.
“It all started when Dad
made backscratchers as gag
gifts,” explains daughter
Lesly. “He had golf balls for
the roller and tees for
scratchers on a diamond wil-
low handle.”
“I called them ‘Itching for
Golf,’” Jim says, laughing.
Jim’s home is filled with
items he has made — some
decorative, some more prag-
matic. Kitchen stools, lamp
stands, a cedar chest, head-
boards for the beds, mirror
frames, even a set of bunk
beds display his handiwork
throughout the house.
“I like to do projects that
people request because I
enjoy the creativity involved.
Give me an idea, and I’ll try
it,” he says.
Jim works with a diverse
collection of deadwoods,
including diamond willow,
quaking aspen, pine, red
cedar, juniper, Russian olive
and barn wood. Red cedar is
a favorite, not only because
of its beauty but also because
it doesn’t warp or crack.
“A friend picks it up for
me near Roundup,” he says.
Although his creations are
varied and unique, his
favorite is a child’s rocking
chair. Requiring about a
week from start to finish, it is
a very popular item in his
inventory. Children play on
his rockers not only in
Montana, but in Florida,
Texas, Utah and Nevada.
Usually, orders come through
some connection with people
he knows who recommend
his work to others.
“I like to personalize the
rockers by burning the
child’s name into the wood,”
he says. “It becomes a family
keepsake.”
Whether it’s a plant stand,
bedstead or table, Olson and
Richter can probably make it
for you. But large items are
only a portion of their wood-
working range. Cabinet
doors, fishing rod
holders, salt and
pepper shakers,
shelves and pet
feeders make up
a small sample of
the kinds of work
they do.
The one-of-a-
kind creations are
built during their
spare time.
Otherwise, these
linemen are in the
field maintaining
lines and poles to
be sure the lights
stay on.
N
OVEMBER
2013
5
a
-
kind works of art
Clockwise: Children play on Richter’s rocking chairs not only in Montana,
but in Florida, Texas, Utah and Nevada. Olson’s 7-month-old son, Jett,
loves the rocking horse his father built. The Olsons’ master bathroom
sports side-by-side juniper sinks.
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