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Built on the Rock Gives New Life

Driftwood sourced directly from our area waterways transformed into beautiful decor

Article by Nicole Bell

Photography by Plum Poppy Photography

Originally published in Gallatin Lifestyle

A carpenter by trade for nearly 30 years, Curtis Wasmer, owner and founder of Built on the Rock, has found a love for working with a different type of material. This material that most overlook and don’t give pause to actually gives Curtis a great medium to explore his creative side when he uses driftwood for so many of his creations. 

Turning unique creations into a business, Curtis and his wife wanted to name their business after something that referenced their Christian faith without being too assertive. “If you’ve ever been to Sunday School, you know who the Rock is, but if you haven’t and you don’t get the reference, it’s still a solid name,” said Curtis. In addition to that, Built on the Rock is governed by six core values - integrity, originality, craftsmanship excellence in service, creativity and environmental consciousness.   

When Curtis lived close to the Ohio River, he began bringing driftwood pieces home to create gifts for family and friends. Now, working out of his workshop in Nashville, Curtis blends carpentry, remodeling and contract experience with an artistic vision using driftwood (recovered along the rivers here in Middle America) to craft some seriously beautiful (and functional) works of art. All of the driftwood pieces Curtis works on are sourced by him personally from the Cumberland River, Ohio River, Tennessee River and Mississippi River. 

After finding a suitable piece of natural driftwood, Curtis looks for a solid and unique piece that sets it apart from others. “I embrace the natural character of the piece and all of its interesting details,” explains Curtis. “A lot of artists tend to want to fix or hide the natural blemishes in a piece of wood, but I tend to stay away from epoxy, plastics and fillers and rather embrace the imperfections.” The design of each piece is unique in its own way and the piece he works with has to speak to him, as well. The inspiration comes from the piece itself and Curtis’s goal is to keep the character of the pieces he finds in anything he crafts from it. He doesn’t morph something into a piece of decor or furniture that doesn’t fit with the nature of the piece. 

Currently, the driftwood hanging light fixture that is on display at the Troll House Cottage in Donelson is a creation favorite of Curtis’s. This piece, from any angle, is really showcased as a driftwood chandelier and Curtis was able to incorporate a more contemporary feel with LED lighting. His likes veer towards the larger pieces that really make a statement but pieces that find a forever home are his true favorite. 

In addition to now having Built on the Rock as a growing business, supporting local groups is a passion, too. Built on the Rock directly supports a group in Nashville called Open Table, a grassroots organization advocating for the homeless here locally. Curtis also supports an animal rescue in Nashville, Piccolo Farms. He has donated driftwood decor pieces to the Cumberland River Compact as they look for decor that directly correlates to the river they strive to protect. 

Outside of the greater Nashville area, customers from Florida and even internationally (Japan, Germany, England and Ireland) have taken to Curtis’s pieces. Being able to express and project feelings through driftwood and showcase creativity through a particular piece is what makes each piece unique. “I invite clients to come to the shop and pick out a particular piece they’re interested in - a collaborative effort with the client is always welcome!”

Curtis and Built on the Rock look to continue to be a premier source for driftwood decor, furniture and art. “We’ve established a vision and direction for the business. I feel really good about the progress of Built on the Rock and look forward to what the future holds!”  builtontherockdriftwood.com

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