Woodworker's personality shines in creations
By FLORI MEEKS
Drivers never know what to expect when they pass Virgil Theiss' home on Spring Stuebner Road.
The 72-year-old puts out a steady stream of the wooden creations he sells, from playhouses with special touches to potting benches.
I've been told I'm known all over," Theiss said. Everybody sees them, and they're always looking for me to put out something new."
Theiss, who worked in home real estate about 50 years, has considered woodworking his hobby for about 20 years. He started making items for family members especially his nine grandchildren and gradually started selling pieces to the public.
He has crafted birdhouses and tree houses, garden items and furniture.
The little building out there now is an old Western jail," Theiss said.
Displayed by the jailhouse are several pieces of brick and rocks that Theiss coated with paint to create the effect of gold nuggets.
Theiss has a knack for inserting his personality and sense of humor into the things he makes. His giant mailbox, for instance, was a response to the presidential election.
When the new president was campaigning, he promised the old folks a big check, so I built a mailbox for it," he said. I'm still waiting for that check."
Currently, Theiss is working on a log cabin playhouse. He's also considering a playhouse modeled after a 1920s-era Spring bank.
I love the challenge of making something new every time," he said. It always has a new twist."
Theiss, who has lived in the same home his entire life, is a descendent of the German Theiss and Wunsche families. When he grew up in the 1940s, his family was one of many that farmed the area.
I can almost remember when the buffalo roamed," he joked. This area was considered the country."
Theiss said he learned quickly growing up that if he needed something, he would need to build or grow it for himself.
A lot of kids don't think the way old people think," he said. I was taught to survive in good times and bad."
It was that way of life that inspired Theiss to make things from wood, he said. But now he has the pleasure of seeing others benefit from what he can do.
People's eyes light up when they see my prices," said Theiss, who sells playhouses that would go for $1,800 to $2,000 retail for as low as $550. I charge just enough to cover my costs."
Theiss works with recycled wood when possible, and he makes it a priority to use non-toxic products.
In addition to the ideas he comes up with for products, he'll make items on request.
Bring me a picture, and I'll build it," he said.
I think it's great, said one of Theiss' three children, daughter Dori Watto. He's very creative. I'm sitting here looking at my Southern Living magazine, and I've already marked two pages of things I want him to make for me."
Watto, who lives on adjacent property to her dad's, said she loves her father's enthusiastic approach to woodworking, and to life.
He's very entertaining. The kids love bringing their friends to meet Pappy."
For more information about Theiss' creations, e-mail email@example.com.
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