St. Regis resident, Kim Elledge is sort of a Jill of many jobs.
“My Dad taught me to be a pretty good handyman or a jack of all trades, master of none of course. He taught me a lot about carpentry, and I did repair work for his termite business. I worked in a lumber mill a lot of years, and it probably helped that I took wood shop and auto shop in high school,” Elledge said.
With an eclectic work portfolio including anything from laying carpet to being a seamstress for a T-bird and Mustang dealership installing upholstery, Elledge has always stayed sharp working with her hands and found joy in creating things. Ultimately that’s how she ended up establishing her own furniture business, Montana’s WoodRiver, making handcrafted, one-of-a-kind rustic wood pieces.
Elledge gleaned this skill and eye for woodworking from her first spouse.
“So the way it actually happened was one day I was watching my ex-husband work with these burl slabs and I watched him go from what looked like a really dull piece of wood and he transformed it into a beautiful clock,” she said. “Then he made beautiful tables and after watching him do that I knew I could do it also.”
After her divorce, Elledge rooted herself in this new form of art and craftsmanship. She recalled, “I begin to do more than tables and clocks. I started making plant stands and chairs, and more it went from a hobby to a lifestyle.”
As time went on Elledge invested countless hours and effort into her venture. She shared, “Every piece of furniture that is constructed you wouldn’t really think so but so much of you goes into it from the first stage of picking your piece of wood and I’m talking about like your main centerpiece and then you kind of build your vision around that and then every piece is carefully hand selected from the forests and the creeks and rivers around our beautiful, majestic, Montana.”
Elledge has built bed frames, chairs, tables, coat racks, clocks, shelves, and benches, all of them formed by intricate pieces of wood that she collects from the forests of Western Montana.
She expressed, “I’ve spent countless hours and numerous gallons of gas driving around everywhere looking for driftwood piles, down trees, uprooted trees, blow downs, beetle kill, or even the aftermath of forest fires brings a lot of beauty into my furniture.”
Other unique wood features she has unearthed in nature are trees that have been enveloped in vines, the process of the vine choking the trunk can produce fascinating shapes and burls.
The adventures of just going out and hunting for unique wood has turned into a family pastime. Her children and grandchildren always keep an eye out for tree treasures for her furniture.
Elledge said, “My sister and I loved to go out and spend the whole day looking for driftwood and uprooted trees with roots that grow around the rocks, so it’s kind of turned into a family affair which makes it that much more special.”
After many years of wood hounding and furniture building on her own, Elledge was unexpectedly blessed with a new partner. She shared, “My wonderful fiancé who actually really surprised me he has got quite the eye for finding beautiful unique character wood, and I’m sure we can …….