Merging scavenged supplies and some radical resins, a former pro skateboarder pays artistic homage to his sport’s maverick spirit. By Spencer Legebokoff.
The table is a tribute to its birthplace: two pieces of locally milled dark walnut bookend flowing blue epoxy that evokes the Kootenay River from which the wood first drew its water. It’s the handiwork of Daniel Nelson, a former pro skateboarder who now crafts distinctive furniture and art at his shop in Pass Creek, British Columbia.
Nelson, 35, originally hails from White Rock, British Columbia, and has competed in events like the World Cup Skateboarding Slam City Jam. “Skateboarding is amazing because there’s no coach, and it’s up to you to make up new tricks and learn on your own,” he says. “Pretty sure I carried that with me when I started woodworking.” After quitting the pro circuit and moving to the West Kootenay, he decided to build some furniture for his house using scavenged wood, despite only having Grade 8 woodshop credentials. He enjoyed the experience so much he started collecting driftwood from the shores of local lakes and rivers and crafted more pieces, eventually incorporating colourful epoxy into his creations.
In 2014, Nelson founded Driftwood Works and now builds upward of 200 pieces a year, from tables and chairs to guitars and knives. “I draw my inspiration from Bob Ross and Dick Proenneke as well as a handful of other artists who created without rules,” he says, referring to the popular Afro-sporting painter and the Alaskan naturalist, respectively. His process involves finding the wood (either driftwood or lumber discards), milling it, then shaping and sanding it before adding an eco-friendly epoxy made of soybeans mixed with colour pigment. He then buffs and varnishes it and adds the hardware.
Last spring, Nelson’s two main interests came together with the creation of his first-ever skateboard made from repurposed spalted maple and a turquoise epoxy. Since then, he has been fulfilling custom longboard and skateboard orders from clients as far away as Texas, Florida, and England.