Beetle wood furniture as unique as it is distinctive

Don Brown admits it's difficult for him to make two pieces of furniture look the same.

For some craftsmen that might be an admission of failure but for Brown it's said with pride, as the unique nature of his pieces is directly linked to the materials with which he builds.

Since December, Brown has been running Friendly Giant Rustic Furniture from his Logan Lake home and shop, a family venture he hopes will soon grow enough to give two of his five sons, as well as his wife, paying employment.

Brown's shop takes beetle-killed lodgepole pine from local forests and turns the logs with the distinctive bluish stain into beds, coffee and end tables, dining room suites, wine racks, picture frames and just about anything else you can envision.

"We're using the wood that's been killed by the mountain pine beetle, the debris left behind," he said. "We are trying to make a living with things that are left behind by everybody else."

Brown said the nature of the wood lends itself well to custom building. Each piece of wood is carefully selected. Every whorl and twist is considered and used as part of the aesthetic structure of the furniture he builds.

Aside from its unique look, the pieces are solid, he emphasized. Prices vary from $200 for a small coffee table to $1,400 for a high-end bed with lots of detail. He sells a variety of small gift items as well, including picture frames, wine racks and candle holders.

Furniture is available in a variety of finishes. People can choose the amount of bark they want to see as well. "Skip peeling," as he calls it, leaves small traces of the bark on the pieces, adding to the rustic quality, but some people want the wood peeled clean.

He also sometimes mixes beetle-killed pine with cedar, willow and birch to create even more distinctive looks. Brown gets his willow from northern B.C., where a different insect produces a diamond pattern in the tree's wood grain.

"It's pretty unique wood," Brown said.

Most importantly, Brown said he is open to building anything people want. If someone has an idea, he listens and will often make a piece that fits the bill.

"We build everything by hand, we are not a production line," he said.

Most of his customers so far have been people with summer cabins or log homes, but some buyers just like the style and mix the pieces into their regular, more modern decors.

Currently, Brown sells his furniture through a consignment shop on the Sunshine Coast and at a co-operative shop in Merritt, but his house is also his showroom and gift shop. People are welcome to drop by for a look.

The business will have booths at the Kamloops home show Oct. 22 and also at the Delta Sun Peaks this weekend and in December.

For more information, or to contact Brown, visit his website at www.friendlygiantrusticfurniture.ca.

rkoopmans@kamloopsnews.ca

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