My interest in clay began at an early age. While growing up, I often dug local clays and made all sorts of little things to use and play with. In school, I was always involved in any art classes available. Unfortunately, the schools I went to did not have much in the way of clay programs, so I spent most of my time drawing and painting. During those years I won several awards and found a genuine love and appreciation for art in its many forms. I find that experience has helped me in my pottery career in ways I am still discovering.
Beginning in 1990, I enrolled at Valencia Community College in Orlando, FL where I continued art classes at the college level. While there I had the fortune of meeting and learning from Mike Galletta. He was my sculpture and pottery teacher and opened up the world of clay to me. His inspirational teaching is what fueled my life long love of clay. One of the pieces made in class was soon seen by a local studio potter named John Margerum. He was looking for a studio assistant, and I was looking for ways to pursue art. We ended up working together for several years. All that time I learned what studio life was like as well as the realities of making a living as a full-time potter. Those years were full of invaluable experience and the most formative years I have to date.
In 1997, I moved to Amelia Island, FL to continue college classes and started working with my father who also has had a long love for pottery. We began like so many potters working in whatever spaces we could. We worked hard to improve our skills and venture out to sell at local galleries and art shows. Eventually we parted ways and in 2002, I began a pottery residency at Atlantic Pottery Supply in Atlantic Beach, FL.
I have to give tons of thanks to both Kathy Skaggs and Bob Kirk, both potters and educators, for giving me the opportunity to work and learn at their studio. It was during that time that my eyes were really opened to so much more than ever in the pottery world. I was able to explore soda and wood firing as well as a great variety of styles and techniques. I still have strong ties to their studio, the potters I met there and the friends I made along the way. This time gave me the opportunity to really develop my own style and grow my business. One of the other great things that came from this time was the chance to teach pottery on Princess cruise ships. I usually spent at least a month each year doing this and have been to Alaska and the Caribbean and all points between. That experience has really opened up my eyes and enriched my life.
In 2005, I built my first real studio and gas kiln. We sold the house with the studio on May 2012 but I kept the kiln and rebuilt it even better at my new studio in NC. It is still in use today. I think nothing before ever made me feel more like a real potter than building my own kiln. I love it and it just fires so well. Thanks to my friend Dan Quesada for all his hard work on the studio and welding the kiln frame. I quickly grew out of the small space though and had to do something. That something was StudioArt.
In 2007, I teamed up with Andrea Adair-Lasserre to open a teaching studio we called StudioArt. It was a shared space where we gave classes and also gave me more space to work. I had started teaching by way of the cruise ships, and now decided to get a bit more serious and teach locally. Our island community has a ton of good artists, but no clay classes. I felt it was high time to change that. The first classes began in April of 2007 and I took on the whole place in late 2008. Classes grew and I kept the doors open until May 2009, but it was too much work to run the place alone. I also started another facet of my business doing kiln repair. Check out www.kilnmedic.com for info on that.
In May of 2009, I teamed up with Jim Tipton and moved my classes down the street to start Amelia Pottery Works. I spent the year teaching classes there and finally ended up selling my class equipment to Jim for him to carry on classes which he does to this day. I really enjoyed teaching classes but decided to focus on really making better pots and exploring new ventures.
In May 2010, I won 2nd Place in the Sculpture Category at the Amelia Island Shrimp Festival for a large green pagoda. I sold it before I even got the ribbon. Most of my time I have been making lots of pots and learning new techniques and forms. I have also spent some time working on a few new glazes and overall enjoying myself.
During this time I began teaching hand building and wheel throwing workshops around the region and working on what I can offer other up and coming potters. In May of 2011, I had the unique opportunity to assist Stephen Jepson while he taught a workshop at the John C Campbell Folk School. He is a Master Potter and a great teacher. In fact, he taught many of the potters and mentors I knew in Central Florida and is techniques were passed on to me through them early in my career. It was quite a few years before I made the connection to him and it was interesting to trace my ‘pottery lineage’ back to him.
In May 2012, I had the honor of teaching my own workshop at this prestigious school. The workshop went well, I made some new friends and fell in love with the area. I began to explore the region and picked up a few new galleries to sell at in the area. As a result, my work took a new turn. I began wholesaling more and showing at art festivals less. That gave me more time to explore different glazes and forms. I also got more serious about moving my studio and home to the area.
In June 2013 the new studio became a reality. I moved into the perfect mountain cabin with a 1200 square foot studio and a large kiln building. It took a few months to settle in but it is a great place.