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Russ Fry and Dotty hard at work. Photo by Cathy Copp[/caption]

I rolled up to Russ Fry’s shop yesterday and was greeted by Dotty, his 10 year old English Bull Dog. Her welcome was less than enthusiastic and, I have to admit, as a Bulldog owner I was a little offended. I have REALLY good bulldog juju, or so I thought. I walked right past her to say hi to my buddy Russ and she barely blinked an eye. After a couple of minutes she got her self upright and made her way over to say hello. It was a strain for her to move her stiff, front legs and I realized it wasn’t because she lacked interest in m e she just needed a little time to get up the gumption to move. Once she got up, she didn’t leave Russ’s side. She may not be the creative genius behind this dynamic duo, but she is his loyal companion.

For the last twenty years, Russ has honed his talent for furniture-making in Bozeman by combining wood, steel, and found objects that he molds in to one-of-a-kind pieces. AW has the privilege of showcasing his work in our downtown shop and we are thrilled to reveal his handiwork for the good people of Bozeman. Find out more about Russ including what’s on his playlist, his most recent Google searches, and much more. Join us from 5-8 for drinks supplied by Map Brewing, food catered by Blue Smoke, and music by Ian Thomas and The Band of Drifters.

Dotty eating her afternoon corn chips snack. Photo by Cathy Copp

How long have you been working as a woodworker/metal-smith?

About 12 years now.
How did you get started working with wood and metal (where did you learn your trade)?
When I bought my first house there were a lot of improvements I wanted to make, but didn’t have expendable cash to pay someone else to do it [so I did the work myself]. Also, I took a design internship at Media Station for Ole Nelson. He was making all of the cool signs around town out of metal. I watched an learned a lot about working with metal through this experience. Shortly after that, I just started purchasing one tool at a time and learned by trial and error.
Tell me about your process (techniques, tools, etc.).
Every day is different. Some days we’re welding, others we make mountains of wood dust. I’m usually approached by designers or architects that have an idea and then we decide what medium would best make [the project] a reality. I welcome good ideas and opinions, as well as collaboration. When a few people selflessly bounce ideas off of one another, I feel like the end result is much stronger.
Russ at work in his Bozeman workshop. Photo by Cathy Copp
Where does your inspiration come from?
I’m constantly inspired by other artists. Here in Bozeman/Big Sky, I have the opportunity to see some of the best craftsmanship and fresh, innovative design in the country.  I also get lost in Houzz and my Instagram feed scrolling through space after space and dissect all the pieces.
I notice you work with some found objects in your pieces. Where do you find them?
Random places.  I get invited to old farms that will have trucks, tractors & old pieces all around. Garage sales, and antique malls often have some great scores.  Other times, people will show up with something they’d like me to incorporate into an original piece. 
What advice do you have for young furniture makers?
Be confident in your own creativity, but don’t forget to draw inspiration from others as well.  Listening to others’ ideas and keeping an open mind will help make the end product better. If you let your ego get in in the way I think the project suffers.
How long have you lived in Bozeman? What brought you here?
I moved here in 1995 for college. At the time, my sister was living in Jackson, she and I  made a trip to Bozeman. She said I’d love it here and she was right.
A handmade original by Russ. Image courtesy, Russ Fry
What do you love about Bozeman?
What’s not to love? It all started with playing in the snow and water.  I quickly made good friends to play with and found rewarding work which sustains me.
What book are you reading right now?
David & Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell
Favorite color?
Favorite TV show?
The Blacklist
What music are you listening to these days?
 Sturgill Simpson, Ryan Bingham, Turnpike Troubadours, Chris Stapleton and Alt J
No cheating. What are the last three things you’ve Googled?
Barn door hardware
Directions to a garage sale
Sling TV – How to stream live football