About my craft

My hands with lapis beads in process.

I am a simple guy. I have found lately that the greatest joy comes from the simplest of things – the warm touch of a loved one, the beach-stone you rub that lives with the change in your pocket, a well tuned bike. In my chosen life’s work I am rounding the edges of a timeless and often well worn stone, completing the process begun by mother nature. I go with her flow. I pierce the stone and turn it into a bead. A simple but joyful endeavor. From the earth, through my hands, on to the body of a fellow earthling to be worn as a stone companion in this journey – life.

My relationship with my craft is based on my life long fascination with the ancient cultures of the world, particularly the Mayan culture and their stone working traditions.  As a young man, just out of college, I spent about 2 years hitch-hiking Mexico and Central. I was amazed at the beauty of the Mayan people and their inherent reverence, and respect for the Earth. I was equally dazzled by the ancient stone work I found in Museums and still being worn by the local people.

A hand-cut lapis bead showing a scene of a shipwreck off the shore on the Sea of Cortez, Mexico.

At one point I was in the market town of Chichicastenago, Guatemala.  I was out shooting pictures of all the beauty, when I passed a church.  An old man grabbed me by the arm and pulled me to the steps to sit next to him.  He told me, in spanish, “you are Maya”.  I corrected him and said, “no, I am an American”. He insisted, and I noticed he was blind with cataracts.  We sat together in silence for a few minutes, then I politely excused myself and went on my way.  That day has stuck with me because the stone beads I make are simple and resemble very much the ancient mayan jade beads I am so fascinated by.  And now, when I am in my shop cutting stones with sophisticated lapidary equipment, I sometimes journey back in time to the edge of a creek, where my hands are darker, and I am working the beads in the ancient tradition, with a bow, a string, a sharpened stick, and sand as my cutting medium.  It is a simple but profound vision that informs who I am and how I think about my craft.  Maybe that old blind man saw something in me I didn’t know about myself at that time.  Maybe, deep in my soul, I am Mayan.

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