Tim Carney started working with wood as a child growing up in Butte, Montana. “When I was a boy, I went down to the basement to make a box for scrap wood. By the time I got done, we had no more scrap wood.” He eventually majored in art and printmaking at Idaho State University, and when he married and started a family, he worked as a carpenter for the railroad to make a living until getting laid off in the recession of 1982. He’d always made furniture on the side, but this was his chance to pursue it full time.
Carney has been focusing on live edge furniture for 40 years and this approach has become Carney’s signature, although he’s certainly not the first or the last to incorporate this natural aesthetic into a piece of furniture. Woodworker George Nakashima was working with live edge slabs in the 1930s, and today it’s very popular — live edge pieces fit both contemporary and rustic interior design.
Carney describes his style as “urban organic,” more on the contemporary side but brought to you by nature. Bringing out the spirit of the tree, his tables and chairs would fit into a lodge home in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, just as well as they would fit in a loft in New York City.
I firmly believe that wood has a spirit and that part of my task as a worker of wood is to try to understand and honor that spirit as much as possible. This has become especially clear to me when I work with live edge slabs. These slabs usually catch my eye and my heart when I see them. Then, as the process unfolds and I fashion a piece of furniture, an image of something from nature comes to mind.
With tables and chairs, this image is often a river. I have made many tables and rockers that I have named after Montana rivers. I believe each river has a spirit and I have a deep connection with flowing water due to my studies of Huichol shamanism. I spend time with rivers, learning about them, listening to them — and I often get a feel for the essence of each river. I believe I have succeeded with a piece when it expresses the spirit of nature while performing the vital functions of comfort and utility.
Tim J. Carney is represented in Helena, Montana by 1+1=1 Gallery. His lithographs, etchings and fine wood furniture is available for viewing during regular business hours at the gallery located at 434 N. Last Chance Gulch. Please contact us for more information about Carney’s artwork and woodworking.