What began as an idea for a single creative gift has blossomed into a fully artistic hobby for Naples man Doug Schwartz, turning ordinary pieces of local driftwood into individualized pieces of modern art.
It all started with a friend pointing out a very expensive accessory within the pages of a high-end fashion magazine one that had an $1,800 price tag.
"Someone showed me a picture of a driftwood mirror in a magazine, and I thought, 'Why not? I could make that,'" said Doug, a full-time wedding planner and event coordinator. "I made one, gave it as a gift and they went absolutely crazy!"
Local man Doug Schwartz has turned a fun craft into a working hobby, creating ornately framed mirrors out of hand-plucked driftwood from our very own local beaches. Each piece he creates is unique and truly one of a kind. Photo by MELISSA SCHNEIDER.
Making these very unique and one-of-a-kind pieces for nearly a year now, Doug, an art major from Virginia Commonwealth University (majoring in paint and print-making and minoring in sculpture) is sure to utilize our very own locally-grown driftwood, plucking many pieces right here from Fort Myers Beach and its surrounding areas.
"I started by using driftwood I found from Sanibel and Captiva, but now I get lots of it around Lovers Key, Bonita Beach, Cabbage Key and other great places around our area," he said. "It's an interesting idea. The driftwood is here, it's fun, it's a great outlet, and in the end, it's a creative piece of sculpture."
Growing up along the sand and sea since he was a young child, the tropics flow through Doug's blood, and he's collected baubles and trinkets of the ocean for decades.
The artist has since evolved his craft, twisting and intertwining driftwood into other sculpture-type pieces, sometimes even naming them.
"I have such a fondness of the water, growing up on the water, growing up on the beach. Many of my pieces take names with resemblance to creatures, etc.," Doug said. "One's called The Fish, another is called The Snake. With enough imagination, you can really see them."
Each piece of hand-plucked driftwood is carefully rinsed and cleaned, but the artist enjoys the intricate little quarks that makes his pieces so unique.
"The wormholes, the barnacles, shells and coral that grows on some of the pieces, I love how it adds an extra element to them," he said.
Doug has only recently begun introducing his one-of-a-kind pieces to the public, with many local shops recently approached to display his driftwood art available for purchase.
Driftwood-framed mirrors range in size from 12-inch-by-12-inch up to 36-inch by 24-inch, but Doug says it's very fluid, and the driftwood and its placement really decides what shape or size is going to form on its own.
He is currently taking custom orders, and says his average creation time, from start to finish, can be between three to seven days. Prices range from $150 and up.
Keep your eyes peeled for Doug, his fantastic driftwood frames and other natural projects at upcoming expos, art shows, gallery events and other artistic avenues soon.
"It's just so fun for me, I really enjoy making them," he said.
If interested in showing Doug Schwartz's one-of-a-kind driftwood pieces at your shop or gallery, or would like to set up a consultation for a custom order, call 571-7816 or email email@example.com.