I have retired from teaching to follow my artistic passions in my home studio. I have spent 40 years living and teaching in Apple Valley, California (located 90 miles northeast of L.A. in the High Mojave Desert). I was an elementary school teacher and coordinator of the school’s ceramics and yearly Arts Attack event.
After a few semesters of ceramics at the local community college I began my clay adventures nearly 35 years ago. I’ve attended many inspiring workshops over the years by Warren MacKenzie, Ken Ferguson, Paul Soldner, Peter Voulkos, Rudy Autio, Don Bendel, Clayton Bailey, Don Reitz, Peter Callas, and Steven Branfman.
I began throwing mostly functional pieces before turning to my current interest of one-of-a-kind raku and saggar-fired vessels. I enjoy making wall pieces as well, drawing inspiration from the desert including local rock art/ petroglyphs.
My wife, Susan, and I have 5 grown children and 5 grandchildren and take great pride in connecting with them and sharing their endeavors. I also find time for road cycling and brewing beer.
I enjoy the spontaneity of smoke-fired pottery and raku. The excitement and thrill of the surprises that emerge from a firing are fascinating to me. I like the serendiptous results!
My saggar fired work is usually wheel thrown, dried, and bisqued to 1900 degrees F. Thin copper strips and steel wool (which burn off) are attached. The work is loaded into a large steel drum surrounded with brine-soaked and dried combustibles (wood shavings), and sprinkled with salt and copper sulfate. Broken pottery shards are placed in areas to help direct the flames. The drum is carefully loaded into the kiln, which is fired to 1850 degrees F. The following day, the vessels are removed, washed off, and allowed to dry. They are then sprayed with a clear acrylic coating.
Raku, a process originating in Japan and long associated with the tea ceremony, is another method I employ. My raku ware is pulled with long-handled tongs from a red-hot kiln (1800 degrees F.) and placed in a container filled with shredded newspaper. Allowed to burn for several seconds, a lid is then placed over the container to allow the ware to be smoked. The reduced oxygen atmosphere allows for many colorful variations and markings.
The lid handles on my work are fashioned from driftwood (predominantly redwood from the Northern California coast). I sometimes embellish the wood with a stone or metal piece.
The saggar and raku ware are decorative pieces. They are not suited for use with food or liquids. If used with flowers, vessels should have a glass/plastic insert put inside to hold water. Keep out of direct sunlight as well.
(Prices for my work are often based on the success of the smoke-fired colors and the complexity of the lid/handle.)
More recently I have been drawn to abstract painting using acrylics. Like my raku ceramics these paintings exhibit a sense of freedom and spontaneity. My paintings are improvisations of thoughts and feelings shared while listening to an eclectic mixture of music from John Coltrane to Bob Dylan or Pearl Jam. I have no preconceived notions, directions or outcomes. I let my muses take over and direct the course of action. In ceramics I was always drawn to the greatness of artists like Peter Voulkos and Paul Soldner, and in painting, I’d probably say my influences come from Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, Jackson Pollock, and Karel Appel.
I enjoy the creative process and rebelliousness in abstract art. Whether working in clay or acrylics, the powerful emotions of abstract expression are relevant to our current politically charged atmosphere.