Brett Siciliano believes American flags bring people together.
About three months ago, he began handcrafting wooden flags in a small space in the backyard of his Huntington Beach home.
Siciliano, 48, posted pictures on his Facebook page and after receiving positive comments, the hobby turned into a side business to his regular job selling real estate.
Siciliano has always been patriotic, but over the past several months, he’s noticed that communities have become entangled in deep partisan conflicts stemming from divisive issues in national politics. He hopes to pull people out of the conflict.
He said the flag is a symbol of unity that shows that despite differing political beliefs, all Americans “bleed red.”
For Siciliano, crafting the flags is a balm after the stresses of the day.
“Building is peace for me,” Siciliano said. “In a stressful world, I find relaxation in working with my hands.”
While flags are not usually made from wood, Siciliano believes the imperfections of the material make it a good medium.
At first, he tried to hide the knots and divots in the back of the flag. But he soon learned to embrace those seemingly ugly defects as a form of beauty.
He said the indentations mirror the nation’s imperfections and divisions.
“You can turn them into a form of beauty if you just add a little bit of love and technique,” he said.
Siciliano always makes sure to add one of the most necessary ingredients: fire.
He blasts every flag with a blowtorch to provide a “battle-worn” look.
Siciliano used to like shiny new things, but he’s learned to see the character in worn materials.
“As things age and deteriorate in life, they gain wisdom,” he said.
He recently sold a 7-by-4-foot, 200-pound flag to his boss. That flag took him 16 hours over four days to finish.
“It looks like it was dug out of the ground during the Civil War,” Siciliano said.
Patriotism runs deep in Siciliano’s family.
His grandfather Isadore Greenbaum was a Marine during World War II, taking part in the D-Day invasion at Normandy. Siciliano’s great uncle Louis Barnett served in the Navy during World War II and the Vietnam and Korean wars.
Siciliano said hearing war stories influenced his patriotism.
Siciliano is selling his flags in three sizes: large (7 feet by 4 feet), medium (19 inches by 36 inches) and small (13 inches by 23 inches). Prices are $500, $200 and $150, respectively.
To place an order, contact Siciliano at surfcityflags.com.