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Joe Tiki Customs: A Legacy Carved in Wood

Joe Miller: Second Generation Tiki Artist

Nestled in the heart of Palm Coast, Florida, Joe Tiki Customs, LLC stands as a testament to the enduring allure of Tiki culture. Joe Miller, the founder and professional Tiki carver, has transformed his father’s legacy into a thriving business that captures the essence of Florida’s rich and diverse ecosystem.

Joe Miller of Joe Tiki Customs

Joe’s journey began in Hawaii, where he worked as a chef and part-time handyman. However, the call of the Tiki was strong, echoing the path his father had carved for 25 years. Embracing this heritage, Joe crafted his first Tiki 11 years ago and has since honed his skills along the Space Coast, from Melbourne to Clearwater, Davie, and St. Augustine.

In an exclusive interview with Wiki Tiki Magazine, Joe shared insights into his craft and what distinguishes Joe Tiki Customs in the competitive world of Tiki carving. “My approach is more three-dimensional, more in-depth,” Joe explained. “I infuse my Tikis with elements of Florida wildlife, making each piece a unique narrative of nature.”

Joe’s artistic process is a blend of tradition and innovation. He employs chainsaws, dremels, chisels, angle grinders, and a gas torch to shape his vision into reality. Each Tiki is a labor of love, often requiring Joe to adapt his designs to incorporate client requests, such as a Tiki holding a gem, a Mahi, an alligator, or even a sea turtle.

The materials Joe works with are as diverse as his designs. From freestanding palm to cedar pines and Bismarck palms, each wood type presents its own challenges and rewards. “Palms may dull a chainsaw blade, but cedar cuts like butter,” Joe remarked, highlighting the nuances of his craft.

One of Joe’s most challenging and memorable projects was a carving in Yulee, featuring a symphony of Florida wildlife—a jumping bass, catfish, blue heron, alligator, and ibis—all masterfully integrated into a 14-15 feet tall red cedar tree. This piece not only showcased Joe’s technical prowess but also his deep connection to the natural world.

The project that Joe holds closest to his heart is a donated Tiki that depicted an epic battle between an octopus and an alligator. This piece marked a turning point in Joe’s artistic journey, pushing him to explore new creative frontiers.

Beyond the realm of Tikis, Joe Tiki Customs offers an array of woodworks, including benches, wall hangers, planters, and posts for handrails. These pieces are crafted with the same meticulous attention to detail that defines Joe’s Tikis.

As Joe Tiki Customs continues to flourish, Joe Miller remains dedicated to his art, constantly seeking new ways to bring the spirit of Tiki culture to life. With each stroke of the chisel and roar of the chainsaw, Joe Tiki Customs carves a legacy that will endure for generations to come, much like the timeless Tikis that stand sentinel over Florida’s tropical landscape.

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