The Daily Interlake - Kalispell, Montana
'Bringing stone to a natural life.' Buffalo Trail Artworks designs beauty from nature by Erin Keithly
How would you like to have an imposing bear in your foyer when you come home at night? What about a slithering snake curving around on your floor? Many homeowners are welcoming these creatures into their homes with open arms as a way to add charm and personality.
I'm not talking about real animals, of course. I'm referring to the unique creations from Holly Benay Cutting of Somers. Cutting designs intricate mosaics for walls, floors and stove pads featuring virtually whatever design a person desires.
For several years, Cutting had been looking for a creative way to extend her husband Jim?s masonry business. So, she began doing designs for stovepads. Cutting then started painting tiles in every imaginable scene. She uses a special paint that shows intricate detail. Cutting then seals the paint with an acrylic coating for protection.
Her work load includes designs for entryways, walls and floors of homes and businesses. Her beautiful craftsmanship can be seen publicly at the ReMax building in Kalispell and the sign on Meridan Road.
Cutting's work begins with her creating a pattern, then taking a tile saw and cutting the rock which she lays and grouts like tile. A lot of the stone Cutting uses in her creations comes directly from Montana and adds to the authenticity of her artwork.
Cutting said the Montana theme is what interests most people. Her two most popular requests are bears and elk. Chipmunks and chickadees are a close second.
Her work was featured on the front page of the February 24 edition of "If You Dream
It, Do It." The bear design on the floor of that Bigfork home was done exclusively by Cutting for the homeowners.
Most of the work Cutting does is custom-made for the individual or business. She has done everything from fish to flowers to geese for every possible area of a home or business.
Cutting says she enjoys her job and being able to do something unique and different for her clients.
If you would like more information about Holly Benay Cutting and Buffalo Trail Artworks, call 406-752-3361.
Copyright 2014 Buffalo Trail Artworks
Bigfork Eagle - Bigfork, Montana
SET IN STONE by Katherine Head
Holly and Jim Cutting of Somers (now living in Kila, MT) make pictures made of stone. Slates varying in texture, light, color, mineral patterns and size combine to create detailed mosaics of wildlife and flora reflective of Montana's natural beauty.
Like giant jigsaw puzzles, the creations of Buffalo Trail Artworks start with many pieces that, when assembled correctly, form a variety of subjects. Eagles, bears, moose, deer, elk, horses, buffalo and landscapes are some of the artists' specialties. Using tile and diamond-band saws, each mosaic piece is hand cut. Most of the slate used in the mosaics comes from local stone brokers, with more exotic pieces ordered from local tile shops.
Jim, a stone mason, and Holly an accomplished artist, started the business eight years ago to couple their talents.
"It was a way to make stonework more unique and interesting and for Holly to have a new medium for her art," Jim said.
The Cuttings began designing custom hearth pads, and have expanded their canvasses to include floors, walls, tabletops, showers stalls, kitchen-stove back splashes and entire building fronts. Their clients include condos on Big Mountain Ski Resort, the Majestic Valley Arena and wildlife conservationist and zoo curator Jack Hanna.
"Our plans all along were to get into larger mediums." Jim explained. "the hearths were an outlet to get the idea out there at first."
Now customers approach the couple with their own ideas for custom work. Holly then makes sketches of possible designs and reviews them with the customer.
"I'm lucky when they say "surprise me", Holly said, "it's always kind of fun to be able to do what we want and really be creative."
Pieces are either thinset -lightly adhered- on to wonderboard for transport or shipped in pieces. Mosaics are usually then installed and grouted in to place by tile setters.
Holly also hand paints tiles with painstaking detail. Each tile is oven baked at 350 degrees for one hour and sealed. At art shows, she sells items like hand-painted stone coasters as a side project.
The Cuttings say they have reached a good pace project-wise and hope that future plans to move will expand their capabilities. "We just bought a smaller home, and we're going to build a bigger shop," Jim said.