Being around builder parents was part of my experience, whether Dad was building a canoe or Mom was rehabbing a house, they always seemed to have a project going. My favorite came when I was about 10 or 11 years old. My parents bought a raw wooded lot on Linkhorn Bay in Virginia Beach. I watched and helped as my parents roughly cleared the property and envisioned the new home that they would build. I had been around construction sites for most of my life by this point, but this one was special because of the mix of building, tidewater, and woods, to explore. A dream for a young guy I remember digging for Blackbeard's treasure and exploring the woods and swamp that surrounded the cove we lived on.
Middle school were my first experiences in shop woodworking and ceramics. Beginning with the woodshop classes, bored with the routine projects and lack of enthusiasm I tried a ceramics class the following year. I connected with the teacher and started to learn a new way to express myself. A class trip took us to Philadelphia, teacher Sid made sure we had a side trip to Wharton Eserick home studio. I was hooked! Eserick's studio left a great impression on my memory. The spiral stair case, randomly set flooring, curving roof line, everything felt like it was curved or sculpted in some way. I went home and let my parents know that I planned on being an artist! well that didn't go over well.
By the time I entered High school I was all about boats and being on the water. I remained friends with Teacher Sid and visited his pottery studio from time to time. I started taking drafting classes and began to think of Architecture as a career field and continue these classes through High school.
Looking at what to do after graduation I stumbled upon some wooden boat schools in Maine. My parents were reluctant due to the fact it was far away from home for my age. Taking a long weekend together, Dad and I explored the coast line of Maine from Kennebunk all the way to Brooklin. Stopping at schools along the way, visiting these shops with wooden boats resting on their keels being hand built was really exhilarating to me. I chose to attend the Landing School of Boat building and Design and completed the Yacht design course.
Looking for my next move, work or college I found a VCU course catalogue. As I thumbed through the book I came across some woodworking and furniture classes. I called the University and found out times when the classes would be open. I drove to Richmond armed with my technical drawings from High school and the Landing school hoping to meet with the instructor. It must have been my lucky day or meant to be, because I was able to catch Bill Hammersley in the studio. He was very nice and took the time to look at my drawings and listen to what I had to say and asked me if I had any other art experience, I didn't. He encouraged me to apply anyway and asked me tolet him know when I applied by sending him copies of my technical drawings. I received my acceptance package and enrolled for Fall of 1989 AFO classes. VCU felt like a fit right off the bat.
Starting my core classes the following fall. Woodworking was a long process and the mistakes could be almost catastrophic. After a few semesters I started to gain ground making furniture. By my senior year I was in the studio making furniture and didn't wantthe experience to end.
After graduation I took a job in a custom cabinet shop, but still very interested in wooden boats I found a space to build a cedar strip canoe. The owner of Legend brewing in Richmond Virginia, let me have space while he developed the brewery. We shared a common interest of wooden boats and often sat with others enjoying a good beer and waxing poetic about wooden boats.
By 1995 I found a job in Annapolis Md. I was doing it!! We were all responsible for our individual projects, on custom refits and yacht furniture. As a member of this crew we built two boats, both were based on the Hooper Island Draketail one of the first power boat forms on the Chesapeake Bay. I took part in building large laminated wooden parts for these round stern boats. This is where I really began doing radius work and I was lovin it. My skill level grew rapidly while at this shop. I was also pursuing my interest inbuilding my own furniture while in Annapolis. I was invited to participate in two group exhibitions at the Meredith Gallery in Baltimore. This is where I sold my first piece, a nightstand called TAZ.
I moved to the outerbanks of North Carolina possessed by building wooden sport fishing boats. These boat ranging from 65' to 85' were wood framed boats planked with Atlantic white cedar. The Old man and his son laid out the keel and frame. A crew of about three or four of us planked the boat and prepped the hull ready for systems and finish. My station on the finish crew was the cockpit and cabin house. This was a really low key job the pace was moderate and the lifestyle was easy. It seemed like no big deal that we were building multi million dollar boats in barns over the tidal water, which flooded from time to time. When the storms came, if a piece of floor came up we just nailed it back down. There was a rumor that a storm had been so bad it took the floor and left the boat floating in the water.
Summer of2004 I was asked by a college friend to come back to the Richmond area and build cabinetry and furniture in his shop in Goochland County.
In 2005 my wife and I officially moved back to the Richmond area. Shortly after I was approached by the Virginia Department of Forestry to work with some wood that they were studying for commercial use, and took this opportunity to open my own studio. I designed and built them a bench for their main office in Charlottesville. I found work using my boatbuilding skills in Deltaville and cabinetry skills to install premade cabinetry, while we built a shop/garage on our property to use as a studio.
My current aesthetic is coming from that background of curved and round forms from my boatbuilding experience and I still draw mechanically with paper and pencil. In 2013 I was awarded a public commission from S.U.N.Y college at Brockport. Answering a call to furniture makers for benches and end tables. I proposed 3 designs for each category, provided written statements, pricing, and scaled sketches about each piece were thensent to the committee for approval. I was awarded one of 15 benches and the only table that is on display in the Deans office. The wood used had been fallen to make room for the new academic building it was part of their green building protocol, where the trees are repurposed into usable furniture for the students, faculty and visitors to use daily.
My work has been shown in recent exhibitions at:
2016 - Rassawek Spring Jubilee Goochland County
2016 - Arts in the Park at the Carillon Richmond VA
2015 - RVA Makers Festat the science museum
2015 - HOME: The 2015 Furniture Society Member’s Exhibition, Durham, NC
2015 - Made in RVA Handcrafted Furniture & Lighting Show & Sale, LaDiff, Richmond VA
2014 - Fine Contemporary Craft of the Southeastern US, Artspace, Raleigh, NC