Working as a struggling commercial fisherman on Florida’s Key West 14 years ago, Josh Townsend channeled his inner artist to created his first “trap art” – a wooden replica lobster trap containing netting and lighted sea shells.
Today, Townsend, 41, calls Brookings home, still works as struggling commercial fisherman, and has started building the lighted trap art pieces again. He will donate 15 percent of the sale of each trap art to the Tsunami Relief Fund established to help Crescent City fishermen affected by the March tsunami.
“They really got hit hard, more so than here in Brookings,” Townsend said. “Some of the fishermen lost everything. I wanted to do something to help; Give them a little something that might help pay the bills or put food on the table.”
Townsend sells his decorative trap art at several Brookings-Harbor shops including Whales Tail Candy and Gifts at the Port of Brookings Harbor, and The Market Place and Wild Bird and Backyard General Store. He will also sell the pieces this weekend at the artesian market on Lower Harbor Road at the port.
“They are very innovative and creative. I think we’ll be able to sell a lot of them,” said Merri Cook, who owns Wild Bird and Backyard General Store with her husband, Jack.
The decorative pieces can be used as night lights or tabletop decorations to create a nautical feel. Townsend buys the wood from a local hardware store and assembles them into replicas of Key West lobster traps. The wood trap is stained and coated with polyurethane.
The small pieces, measuring 8 by 9 by 12 inches, sell for $35, and the larger pieces, measuring 10 by 6 by 12 inches sell for $50.
Earlier in his life, Townsend dabbled in artistic endeavors, mostly drawing, he said. About 15 years ago in Florida, he built is first trap art in an effort to earn some much-needed extra cash. He left Key West and worked in Aspen, Colo., and Alaska, before arriving in Brookings four years ago.
“I had visited Brookings years ago and always wanted to come back,” he said.
He has been working as a commercial fisherman out of the Brookings port but, facing an uncertain financial future once again, he tuned in to his artistic muse and began building the trap art pieces.
“At my age, I can’t keep making a living as a commercial fisherman; I have to figure out another way to make a living,” he said. “This is a way to keep working for myself and make some money.”