Deb Malewski
Contributing Writer

When they are not designing and creating upscale, custom landscaping, Nathan Brown and D.J. Waters are busy creating unique pieces of art that also serve as furniture. The two men have found a new creative outlet and are designing “river tables” — which are composed of objects from nature with pourable resin. They’ve received international attention for their work.
The two men work together in Brown’s landscaping company, The Turf Jockeys. They both hail from Eaton Rapids and had a mutual connection through wrestling when they were in school. Waters comes from a family of florists and has studied numerous art techniques over the years. Brown took art classes as part of his horticulture education. The need to express their creativity through art is strong in both, and they share 50 years of experience between them.
Waters said the tables range in price from $1,500 to $7,500, due to the many hours each piece requires.
“In function, it’s a table,” Waters said. “In process, it’s art.”
“And you can’t rush it. The resin requires 30 days to cure after it’s poured. The wood must dry until it has less than five percent moisture.”
Brown said the work needs time.
“Creativity takes time,” Brown said. “We are not a volume company.”
Much of their work has been experimentation and requires a tremendous amount of research, Brown said. Often, a miniature sample is created to determine if a large-size product will be feasible.
Each table involves a ten-step process to complete, at a minimum, and takes at least two weeks to create, depending on the piece. The wood used is natural slabs, complete with bark, knots and imperfections. It’s sourced from around the country. They sometimes add additional natural products for interest, such as walnut-shell halves or slices of wood. The resin poured on top creates a perfectly smooth finish after it’s sanded down.
“We’re taking it to a whole different level by adding things that traditionally are not used in furniture making,” Brown said.
“We are looking into the addition of bugs in the future,” Waters added.
Much testing will be needed, he said, to see if the bugs will hold up to being embedded in resin.
What Brown feels is the real “magic” in their creations are the tables in their ‘X-Ray’ series. These tables are made of spalted maple, which is maple wood that has been allowed to start decaying and is then dried to stop the decay. A smoky, grey resin is poured into the tabletop, and when light shines through it, it’s reminiscent of an x-ray.
Tammie Driggs of Eaton Rapids said she thinks the tables are beautiful.
“They are so different, and you can’t buy them in a store,” Driggs said. “There is so much work that goes into them, I can tell.”
“We only have so much time and need to be happy,” Waters said. “My work makes me happy.”
To get more information about their work, contact Nathan Brown through Facebook or by phone at (866) 613-4145.