Copperas Cove man creates custom canvas prints, woodworking items
by BRITTANY FHOLER
Clyde Miller’s love of history and photography paired well with his military career and has offered a way to spend his time even years after he retired.
Miller owns Der Wohlstand, his shop dedicated to canvas-printing, woodworking and more. Located in a small building in his backyard on Logsdon Street, Miller specializes in pairing his photography skills with his woodworking skills to offer unique one of a kind gifts that will span generations.
A lot of the items he offers are geared towards veterans and active duty servicemembers alike, a nod to his own years of service.
The name “Der Wohlstand” means “The prosperity”. The business’ original name was Pulchraante, which was Latin for beautiful sight, “which is what we use to describe all the beautiful photographs we use,” Miller said.
When it came time to trademark his signature octagon frames, Miller ended up having to change the name. The German name describes the goal of the company, which is to be prosperous, he said.
The trademarked frame is a double octagon wood frame, which he calls “16 Views of Beauty”, made using canvas stretched over octagon framed stretcher bars and set in another octagon wood frame. His standard sized octagon pieces sell for $39.95, no matter the image, he said.
Miller has been doing photography since he was around 17 years old and enlisted in the United States Army. He served from November 1979 to July 1998. Aside from his time at Basic Training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri and at AIT at Fort Lee in Virginia, Miller spent the rest of his Army career going back and forth between being stationed at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas and being stationed throughout Germany.
He worked in NIKE air defense program, working on the NIKE-HERCULES missile and then was selected to return to Fort Bliss to work with Raytheon on the Patriot surface-to-air missile (SAM) system. Miller said he had the honor of firing the first tactical kill Patriot missile. He also trained other Patriot units and deployed during Operation Desert Storm. He became the first enlisted African American soldier with the title of Electronic Missile Maintenance Officer (EMMO) in Europe.
After he left the Army, Miller ended up in Seattle, working for the U.S. Postal Service before health problems forced him to move to Texas to be closer to family. He has lived in Copperas Cove since 2012 and opened his canvas and woodworking business in 2016 as a way to sell some of the thousands of photographs he has taken over the course of 30 plus years.
“I started to notice as beautiful as they were, people were always looking for something different,” Miller said.
Miller set up at Copperas Cove’s Krist Kindl Markt a couple years ago where a couple asked Miller if he could do a special piece for their son who had been Killed in Iraq. Miller came up with a display for the saber and spurs, made out of wood.
He then decided to marry the two ideas of photography and woodworking together and came up with adding imagery to the displays.
“Because not every soldier is the Same,” Miller said. “What if you could add a picture of that soldier and something that represents him or her to that wood display? That's where the marriage of the Imagery and the woodwork all came together.”
Miller has created a database with images of the many badges and patches from different units of the different branches: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines etc.
When he goes to shows and sets up, there have been several veterans who are surprised to see their unit’s patch represented.
Miller said the most heartfelt projects he has completed are for the customers asking for something for their relative who served in the Vietnam War. For these projects, Miller said the customer isn’t looking for the official patch but rather the unofficial patches that the soldiers made while deployed.
"Those are the ones that really, really strike a chord with me because It pays tribute to that individual and his lifestyle versus going on the internet and trying to find something and you find the generic stuff,” Miller said. “So, I'll do the work to find the things that fit in that moment in time for that individual that you're trying to honor, and I think that's what the people really love.”
Miller uses the Library of Congress and the American Military Heraldry website which has anything official or unofficial related to military.
Miller shared that he’s made displays for a Vietnam veteran showing exactly where in Vietnam that soldier had been stationed throughout the war, telling the story of his time in Vietnam.
“That’s what motivates me to do it,” Miller said.
Miller said he views his woodworking and canvas printing business as a hobby to keep him busy. He said he tries to keep his prices fair, charging for the cost of the materials.
“If I wasn’t doing this, I’d be sitting around the house watching T.V. getting fat, so my labor, I don’t put a price on it,” Miller said. He added that he loves history, so he doesn’t put a price on the research either.
“A lot of pieces I do, I’m trying to keep alive because as each generation passes, and my generation, this history is going to be lost,” Miller said.
Most of the patches on Miller’s Vietnam era pieces are from units that have been deactivated, he said. A lot of people today have no clue the sheer amount of ground forces the U.S. Military had in Vietnam, he added.
“Little by little, I’m going back and trying to preserve some of these units historically that were in conflicts,” Miller said. He has done pieces on the Korean War and World War II as well.
“It’s enjoyable and I try and keep that part of history alive,” Miller said.
Miller does all woodworking on site, starting with the raw piece of wood- oak or walnut or other woods.
“Everything starts from that raw piece of wood, so that is something that also sets me apart from others that do this,” Miller said.
Miller also has a lot of photos that were taken in Germany from his time stationed overseas and from his visits back to Germany since he retired. He also has photos from his deployments to the Middle East and from his other travels around the world and across the United States. He said he tries to go where Americans can’t or don’t usually go to grab photographs.
“Image wise, there’s not a lot I can’t do,” Miller said.
Miller said he is a history buff and enjoys taking present day, 21st century photos of parts of history from World War I, World War II and more. He mentioned the Siegfried Line, which was a German defensive line built during the 1930s opposite the French Maginot Line.
“When we went through that area during World War II, from the perspective of a tank driver, it had to be the most terrifying thing in your life to know you’re going up to the Siegfried Line and we’re going to try and get through it,” Miller said.
He went and photographed the modern area and did a series where he combined the present-day photos and photos from when it was being built.
“I do things like that to kind of show the young soldier you might think you’re bad and you’re Superman, but the guys who came before you are the real Superman because this is what they had to go through and they didn’t have an M88 with an anti-tank or weapon on the front,” Miller said.
Miller also writes poetry and has published his first children’s book.
If someone is interested in contacting Miller for a custom piece, they can reach him by phone 254-400-4526 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The shop has an official Facebook page as well, which can be found at www.facebook.com/16viewstobeauty.
The shop is located at 3252 Logsdon Street and open to the public Monday through Friday, after 10 a.m.