Born in New York City, John Felten made his way to Montana through the Air Force in 1964. Over the years, living in different parts of Montana, John was struck by the beautiful landscapes of the Mountain West and nurtured a growing interest in its wilderness. He developed a love of outdoor activities including fly-fishing, back packing, hiking and camping. Out of all these interests grew within, a passion for trees and the great variety of tree species, their leaves, texture, grain and incredible resilience.
John began woodworking in his home garage 1993. A self-taught artisan, John has explored various period styles over the years including early American influences such as Shaker. Much of his earliest furniture works were Shaker inspired tables, dressers and other home furnishings. In 2005 he expanded his skills and attended a class at the Windsor Institute in New Hampshire to learn the art of Windsor chair building from Mike Dunbar, an internationally known builder of traditional Windsor chairs.
In more recent years, John has become interested in the Arts and Crafts movement, a period that flourished between the 1880’s and early 1900s, emphasizing a return to individual style and form — in reaction to the machine made products of the Industrial Revolution. John has built Arts and Crafts period furniture such as Morris Chairs, in both traditional white oak as well as other non-traditional hardwoods. In 2009 he attended workshops at the Port Townsend School of Woodworking to learn additional detail elements of the Arts and Crafts movement and other 19th century variations of design as expressed in the work of Charles and Henry Greene from Seattle based instructor Darrell Peart, a master furniture builder and designer. In 2012, he attended classes for marquetry, taught by Montana furniture builder and marquetarian Tim Swanberg, and a class in Greene & Greene-style benchmaking from Washington state furniture designer/builder Tim Celeski. All of these period influences as well as an interest in Asian art and design have helped shape John’s unique style and form.
The box collection evolved out of John’s desire to fuse elements of many period styles into a portable art form that showcases the natural beauty of hardwood. In spring of 2013, John became a board member for the Billings ArtWalk.
In February of 2015 John received instruction in making wood jewelry from Seattle based artist Julia Harrison and afterward began making and selling Exotic Wood Jewelry.
His work is currently on display at:
Toucan Gallery – (Billings Mt)
Cello (Bozeman, MT)
ETSY – JCFHardwoodArt
With Mike Dunbar in 2005 at the Windsor Institute, Hampton, NH
At the Windsor Institute. Hampton, NH 2005
Class photo with Darrel Peart at the Port Townsend School of Woodworking – Green & Green Details,2009
Marquetry panel design – “SPRING” – at The Port Townsend School of Woodworking, July 2012