In 1987 I took a ceramics class at the Cultural Center in Palo Alto, California. It was just something to do after my day job as a software engineer. I fell in love with clay with that first class. Working with clay is sensual. The pot emerging from a lump of clay on the wheel is magical. Frustrated by the limited availability of studio time, I built a small studio in my garage and bought a used Minnesota Flat Top kiln. For the next couple of years I played with clay at night and weekends.
Then life happened and I did not do much with clay for about 24 years. In 2010 I retired from software and moved to Philomath. Since then I have taken classes from Jay Widmer and Ted Ernst at the Benton Center. I have built my own studio and wood fired kiln. I currently create works at the Benton Center and in my studio, and fire occasionally with Jay at his Alsea Anagama.
My love of wood fired pottery is based on the total involvement with the creative process: throwing the pots, discovering new and interesting forms, the physical effort of cutting, hauling, splitting, and stacking wood, and firing – stoking a kiln every 15 minutes for 24-48 hours requires total commitment.
As an engineer, mastery came with controlling every aspect of a project. As a potter, mastery comes with openness to the unknown. Wood, air, fire, and ash add serendipity to the process. The fire reforms the pots, adds texture and color.
Opening the kiln is a surprise. Control is an illusion.