David Butler was first and foremost an environmentalist who fashioned fanciful and fantastic creatures and elaborate "windmills" (whirligigs) from weathered roofing tin. His brightly painted constructions, which are often embellished with found objects, once filled his yard and covered the windows of his house, but advancing age forced him to move in with relatives in a nearby town. Butler's creative fervor remained undiminished, however, and he continued to astonish neighborhood children with his remarkable sculptures, the inspirations for which came from dreams.
After his forced retirement from a sawmill as a result of a physical disablement, Butler began his artistic endeavors. Disappointed that the colorful flowers he planted in his gardens disappeared during the winter months, Butler began to fashion his brightly painted tin constructions which he attached to stakes in his yard, larger wood assemblages or to fences so "I could always look out my window and see pretty things." Butler later discovered that he could cut designs in flattened sheets of tin and place these over his windows. He was intrigued by the patterns of sunlight cast on the walls and floors of his house by these window screens, and the added privacy was in keeping with his shy and retiring nature.
Butler first sketched his designs on the tin with a crayon and then cut the piece with a modified ax head and hammer, holding the tin between his legs while sitting on the ground. His designs are distinctive and imaginative-mermaids, cock-birds, sea monsters, flying elephants, cowboys, and alligators co-exist in harmony, beauty, and humor. He died in 1997.