21 Winter 2018 | www.htcinc.net 20 www.htcinc.net | Winter 2018 Inspiration soaked in salt water: How this artist creates custom furniture along the coast Born and raised in Myrtle Beach, local woodworker Ted Watts has salt water in his veins and East Coast sunrises in his soul. The Atlantic Ocean seeps into every aspect of the artist’s life — from his most basic daily routines to his unique creations and livelihood. And his custom- woodwork customers couldn’t be happier that it does. The Grand Strand native creates custom, hand-carved wood sculptures and furnishings, ranging from mantelpieces and staircases to bookends and bed frames. His most frequent request? “Dining room tables,” says Ted. “The second-most requested pieces are entertainment centers. With the dominance of flat-screen televisions, most stores don’t sell them anymore. So, I build custom pieces with tambour doors that roll behind the TV to be out of sight while you watch, and then cover the TV when you’re done.” They aren’t just functional, but are singularly beautiful, as well. The doors typically include detailed carvings based on the customer’s décor preferences, passions and style. Often, these carved entertainment centers become ocean-life-inspired masterpieces featuring sea turtles, octopuses, sailfish or other coastal creatures. Ted has even created entertainment centers with TVs hidden inside that pop up into view with the press of a button. So where does one learn such a time-honored craft? Ted spent some time developing his talents at Ringling College of Art & Design in Florida and at the Virginia Art Institute, but his affinity for building things runs in the family. At a certain point, Ted returned home to Myrtle Beach to work with his father, a contractor. Back where his roots were originally planted, he honed his woodworking skills and incorporated his art into each project. These two components — wood and art — seamlessly work together to produce functional and unique handcrafted carvings. For Ted, it’s more than a chance to provide a piece of furniture someone needs, but also the chance to whittle away at something rough until the piece reflects a beauty authentic to the owner — and that’s why he’s not a carpenter, but an artist. In fact, you may have already seen Ted’s handiwork for yourself — his first circular staircase was in the clubhouse at the Heritage Club in Myrtle Beach. His largest professional endeavor was for a home on the north end of Myrtle Beach — a three-level staircase intricately carved to look like bamboo. While it was arguably his favorite, most rewarding project to date, Ted decided that the scale of the project was far too large for a one-man show. Instead, his days are now filled with custom furniture orders. Ted’s workday starts at 4:30 a.m. in the woodshop. He and his business partner (Scruffy, who has four legs and loves a good chin scratch) then head to the beach for the sunrise — rain or shine. “The ocean is where most of my ideas originate. It’s a part of me,” says Ted. “It helps me clear my mind and get ready to create.” From there, he’ll continue on working on whatever the day’s project holds. He typically uses wood from a shop in Pennsylvania that ships wood sourced from all over the region. He uses a variety of hardwoods, including cherry, walnut, butternut and others — it all depends on the customer’s desire and Ted’s vision. And that means each piece is truly one-of-a-kind — Ted has no inventory for sale. Currently, he works about four months out, meaning it would probably take about six months to receive your custom piece. But that’s what makes Ted’s work so very special, and why he still enjoys creating to this day. “It’s definitely not for the money,” Ted laughs. “I enjoy creating pieces that people cannot get anywhere else and that cannot be duplicated. I get to do what I love and provide people with custom pieces that will last a lifetime.” Most commissioned pieces come from word of mouth, but you can get in touch with Ted yourself by messaging him on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/ted.watts.509. Photos provided by Ted Watts Ted Watts pictured above