Island culture influences work of self-taught artist
Island life inspires Ransom Mlcak’s woodwork.
Ideas often surface during boat rides around Galveston. After seeing a set of Adirondack chairs on one of those boat rides, he set out to teach himself how to make them. Mlcak found plans in a magazine, and with few tools, sat in his garage and taught himself what would become his newfound trade.
“I guess it’s in my genes,” Mlcak, 30, said. “I have a grandfather who once built his own shrimp boat and then went on to build his own house.”
His parents also are artists; his father is a painter and his mother is a baker.
Mlcak, who in 2004 graduated from O’Connell High School in Galveston, spent much of his 20s trying to find his life’s path. From Fire Academy at Blinn College, to serving the island area as an emergency medical technician for four years, he now spends his days as a clinic associate at the University of Texas Medical Branch and his evenings in his wood shop. He spends time each evening after work creating plans, sketching ideas and honing his craft.
“I didn’t really know much about woodworking and it took me a long time to find it,” he said. “I wish I had found it sooner.”
Mlcak has worked on rope swings, wine racks, beer caddies, Adirondacks, cutting boards, furniture and more. But like every artist, he has his stand-out pieces.
Jocelyn Sullivan, owner of Sugar Bean Coffee and Cream in Galveston, searched for the perfect swing for the upstairs porch of her Evia home on the island’s West End. She took the idea of a bed swing to Mlcak. It would become his biggest project to date. Mlcak had never made a bed swing before. It took several days to complete as he sketched and learned along the way.
“Our family has really enjoyed our bed swing,” Sullivan said. “On Saturday mornings, you can find my oldest daughter resting comfortably, while reading a book. It has now become the perfect spot to take our special occasion photographs.”
Creating pieces that will become family heirlooms has taken a love of artistry and transformed it into a small business, Mlcak said.
Between his day job, woodworking in the evenings, vendor events, building his own living room furniture and creating his website, Mlcak also serves on the board of the Pot Licker Poker Run, an event to help raise money for the Lighthouse Charity Team.
He’s creating how-to videos to share his craft with others who are interested in woodwork. And he continues to teach himself the art.
“The end goal is to have a storefront on the island with a wood shop in the back,” he said. “I’m in the process of learning how to build a canoe. I want to travel to all of the national parks with a canoe I made myself. Wouldn’t that be cool?”