I was fortunate to have come from a family where art, music and literature were most important. As a youth, I spent many hours at museums with my family learning to appreciate works of art, and crafts of antiquity. I especially enjoyed Old Roman and Greek pottery, and loved the old Amphora forms. During one of the summers while attending college, I worked in a stained glass factory as a glasscutter. A few years later, I decided to explore the possibility of making my own glass. Southern Connecticut State University had a glass program taught by sculpture professor Peter Pelletieri.
Peter was one of Harvey Littleton’s first students. I could not have asked for a better instructor. Peter was an incredibly knowledgeable person when it came to antiques and art history. He taught us how to evaluate form, and its relation to surface decoration. He also made us question our own personal aesthetic.
During those early years, I spent a lot of time researching Early American and European glass. I loved the glass of the Art Nouveau period and was amazed at the variety of forms and colorful surface decorations that were created by the craftsmen who worked for Louis Tiffany, Frederick Carter, and by the Cameo artists from France and England.
As I developed my glass techniques, elements such as form, design, and proportion became increasingly more important. Though there were people of greater technical ability, I tried to come up with my own forms that were inspiring to me. Being somewhat pragmatic, I enjoyed making practical things that people could use all the time rather than things that would just stay on a shelf.
The first year, I worked on early American pitchers, and mugs, as well as simple bowls. As I progressed, I started to explore the Amphora form that had intrigued me since I was a child. I spent more time investigating antique glass, and became interested in creating simple glasses and goblets that felt good in the hand, and were aesthetically pleasing.
I am grateful to have been able to study with some of the finest instructors in the world. Each has had a profound influence, and has inspired me to greater levels of proficiency. The beauty of glass blowing is that it is a constant challenge of mastering techniques and evaluating personal approaches to aesthetics. It is a learning process that never ends and offers many unique challenges.
After graduating from college, I began working in construction, and started to become interested in woodworking through a friend from a Karate Dojo. We were intrigued by Japanese woodworking techniques, and as we enhanced the appearance of our Dojo by building a Tea Room, we began to study Japanese joinery. We both invested in Japanese tools, and soon had the pleasure of studying with Living Treasures from Japan. Eventually, we built an addition to a Japanese restaurant, and used the knowledge we received from our experiences on other building projects.
With time, I became interested in early American furniture, and began building Pennsylvania blanket chests for friends and family. About 15 years ago, I had the chance to learn early American furniture techniques from master woodworker Harold Hayes. He had devoted his life to restoring and making reproduction furniture.
He embodied all the virtuous qualities of generosity and gentleness. Many woodworkers came to him with problems, and he always helped them out. He showed me through personal example that the knowledge we get from others should not be coveted, but rather passed on with a spirit of goodwill.