Born in December 1980 and raised on a 400 acre farm in the Central Valley of California, I have always had a love for open spaces and creation. The son of a part-time organic farmer mother and home-based carpenter father, creation and outdoor play were central to my upbringing. After divorce altered the course of my life at age 6, my mother moved my brother Adam and I into a nearby small town, and a shift away from farm life and towards studying music began. My new normal became sidewalks, town friends, skateboarding, piano lessons/practice and many adventures in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Shortly after the move, my mother became a 7th grade Public School language, literature and history teacher. With a book room in the home housing thousand's of books ranging from fiction to non-fiction, history, philosophy, comics, art, nature and more... learning was always encouraged. The decade following my move into town was filled with skateboarding, obsessive music study, exploring, fishing and camping. Due to a lack of household funds, my goal entering High School was to find some way to afford a formal music education in college using skills I could gain in High School to earn scholarships. To pursue scholarships, my focus shifted to auditions, honor bands, honor orchestra, brass quintets and thousands of hours of practice on the trombone and tuba. In retrospect, I feel sorry for our neighbors having to listen to my nightly honking. My obsessive qualities really started to emerge at this time. The discipline of studying music taught me how to learn. In-order to become truly competent at anything, you have to be willing to do all the work, there are no shortcuts. Upon graduation from high school, I achieved my goal by receiving full tuition, room and board to CSU Northridge. My dream of a BA in Music Performance and more importantly a career in the Los Angeles Orchestral world was slowly seeming possible. Life had different plans however. The summer following my first year of college my life was permanently altered when my mother suddenly died of a caught-too-late aggressive form of Leukemia.
Now without parents at 19, I found myself adrift. Almost overnight, a BA in music performance seemed like an unwise use of time and money. I needed to figure out how to financially support myself. And it needed to happen soon. One day in the fall of 2000 I found myself wandering around the San Fernando Valley, visiting as many smoke shops as I could find, spinning my wheels while avoiding figuring out what the hell to do with my life. That is when I happened past a shop in Reseda CA called "The System". It was there where I was first introduced to the idea of melting glass by a glassblower who went by the name of “Pyro”. Seeing the flame for the first time, the odd burning smells drifting through the shop, the extreme nature of the work, the madness of the workers, the opportunity of an apprenticeship… that was the moment I decided to drop out of college and seize the opportunity offered by “Pyro” in the hopes I would soon be able to make a hand pipe, and with that the ability to support myself. The small public school teacher’s retirement inheritance from my Mother would soon be gone and reality was waiting just beyond that. It was in that sweaty, noisy and poorly ventilated San Fernando Valley shop where I first began to learn about real life, the meaning intrinsic in intensely hard and hot work and the magic of molten glass. That winter I put my trombone in my CSUN locker for the last time, locked the lock, actually abandoning my instrument in the locker and literally walked away from music.
21 years after that day, I still find great satisfaction working with my hands and making objects that function well and are pleasing to look at. The complexities of glass mirror music in many ways and I approach learning about glass in the same way I approached music, very seriously and with conscious focus on technique and fundamentals. Like music, glass cannot be stopped and examined in the moment of creation. When glass is molten and when music is being performed, it only exists in the moment. If you try to stop it to examine its creation, it ceases to exist. It’s only when you are fully immersed in the creative moment, when you can freely work with the material.
I currently live in Central Coast, California with my wife and our two young children. My family and I still carry on the organic “farm” tradition of our pasts with our family garden of 20 raised beds, a greenhouse, small orchard, 27 chickens and 7 noisy ducks. When my family and I aren’t gardening, we are surfing, hiking, paddleboarding, adventuring. I am an obsessed trail runner who enjoys a grueling run, with a distant future goal of one day running the Western States 100 when my children leave home to begin their independent lives.
“We either make ourselves miserable or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same” -Carlos Castaneda
- John M / Circle