We recently took a trip out to Stock Island to visit renowned wood artist Kasidy Fritts of Washed Up Key West.
How did you get started and what inspired you to blend local tropical hardwoods to create such stunning pieces?
You could say I was raised in a woodshop. When I was a kid in Pennsylvania my mom and dad converted an old barn out back into their own woodshop and they made a lot of small farmhouse-style trinkets and decorations. Fast forward to 2013 shortly after my first daughter was born I made my wife a table as a thank you and realized I really liked doing it. From there I started refinishing solid wood furniture and slowly grew and grew until I was designing my own pieces. These days I don’t refinish old furniture anymore. I met another woodworker, Jimmy Wray, who had a sawmill and he was cool enough to start teaching me about the local trees and what made them so special. I was hooked. The trees we are lucky enough to get to work with down here are really cool and unique.
Key West is known for its vibrant culture and breathtaking scenery. How does the island's spirit influence your artwork?
My style can be pretty loud at times, blending colors and mediums to make something new and unique. I think that sounds a lot like what Key West is: a melting pot of people and cultures coming together to create something new and unique.
Each of your pieces carries a unique story. Can you share one of your favorite anecdotes behind a creation that holds a special place in your heart?
Man that's a tough one, I feel like they all hold a special place. In 2022 I framed a piece for famous ocean artist Wyland that was auctioned off for charity and ended up raising over $15,000. That was really cool to be a part of.
After Hurricane Irma we salvaged two historic trees that were really cool to work with as well - Pepe’s Cafe had a 30-year-old Honduran Mahogany that came down and famous poet Shel Silverstein's home was destroyed when a banyan tree fell on it. We salvaged wood from both locations and after a couple years of drying turned them into one-of-a-kind pieces of functional art. The locals really enjoyed those and so did I.
Your art seems to embody a deep connection with nature. How does your passion for environmental preservation influence your work?
I grew up outdoors - roaming the neighborhoods, skateboarding, playing in the woods, looking for turtles and lizards in the creeks. Being able to work with wood and knowing that what we do is actually good for the environment is such a huge bonus for me. Rather than a downed-tree being burned and wasted, we can create multiple pieces of furniture and art that will be enjoyed for generations to come. That really drives me.
Many admirers of your art aspire to create similar pieces. Any advice or tips for budding wood artists who want to embark on their own creative journey?
Oh man, what to say here? It’s a lot of hard work, trial and error, and manhours to get good at this. But, it’s really fun. Invest in good products, sand 10x longer than you think you need to, and be original.
Check out some of Kasidy's latest work below
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