Behold, the Bowl of Shame. I present it to you with a mix of humor, humility, and, yes, compassion for the poor bowl itself. On New Year’s Day, 2010, I opened my first three blocks of clay. My profound artistic ignorance had led me to believe I could simply roll up some clay and make cane like Jon Stuart Anderson and Jana Roberts Benzon. (I hear you both laughing and I don’t blame you.)  This bowl was the result. 

As you can imagine, I was disappointed.

The thing is, my crude creation only fueled my interest in cane making. At that time, I was working at a bowling alley as a dishwasher. (My career in construction management had crashed and burned in the Great Recession.) My scrubby workday was spent imagining cane designs. After work, I read books about caning.  Every payday I allowed myself twenty dollars to buy clay. Best of all, I spent 12 hours a day making cane on my two days off.

Slowly, my skills improved.

In 2012 I met Christi Friesen. She was teaching sculpture, something at which I’m still remarkably talent-free; but, for me, it was a turning point. Christi’s warm, generous style and the joy she brought to the students made me want to become a clay teacher. In 2013 I made my first YouTube tutorial. That lead to offers for paid tutorials. I was able to leave my job. I started doing live classes in Chicago, New York, San Antonio, Utah, San Diego and Las Vegas.  2014 brought me a running column in Polymer Café Magazine and an invitation to be a member of the Sculpey Design Squad. In 2015 I started a FaceBook Group called HOP! Hooked on Polymer. We are now 13,300 strong. In 2016 I started a polymer clay tool store, TinyPandora.com. Its now a family business. My dream of meeting my clay friends came true in 2017 when I had my first IndyJam Clay Convention in Indianapolis.  IndyJam 2018 and 2019 followed; and the people I’ve met are very dear to my heart.