Photo by Casey Page of Billings Gazette

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, camping and bicycling. Out of all these interests evolved a passion for trees and the 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 The Shakers. Much of his earliest furniture works were, in fact,  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.  This movement, which had its roots in England,  emphasized a return to a hand-made, individual style and form as opposed 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 two workshops presented 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, taught by 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.  In that same year he attended 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 last few years John has focused on making fine wooden boxes, incorporating the art of marquetry in each of the projects. 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 through 2015 John was a board member for the Billings ArtWalk

In February of 2015, John received instruction in the making of wood jewelry from Seattle based artist Julia Harrison.

In October of 2015 John returned to the Port Townsend School completing a one week class in  turning taught by Bonnie Klein. 

                                                       His work is currently on exclusive display at:

Toucan Gallery – (Billings Mt)


With Mike Dunbar in 2005 at the Windsor Institute, Hampton, NH


Building a “sack back windsor chair” at the Windsor Institute. Hampton, NH 2005


Class photo with Darrel Peart at the Port Townsend School of Woodworking – Green & Green Details, April 2009


Marquetry panel design – “SPRING” – at The Port Townsend School of Woodworking, July 2012



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Filed under Boxes