I learned woodworking skills in high school. I really enjoyed the shop classes, which allowed me to make things and to be creative. Unfortunately, many towns have stopped offering these classes, which is very sad, since this is where I was first introduced to and developed a passion for woodworking.
After college, I lived in NYC and worked on Wall Street. Four years later, I moved back to Connecticut and became an antiques dealer, focusing on mid-to-late 19th century furniture. I would often have to restore pieces, and as a result, bought a used wood lathe in 1991 (it happened to be the same model I used in high school). I would turn on occasion to restore furniture, and I did make a few bowls for myself, which I still have. I loved the antiques business, but cash flow was erratic – at least for me. About 4 years into the antiques business, I met my future wife Mary Crean. I still tease her, because she married a guy with a van, some tools, and some “used” furniture. After we married in 1995, I went back to UConn for my MBA degree and started a career in banking.
The lathe sat in our basement for almost 20 years as Mary and I focused on work and raising two boys. I was involved in Boy Scouts and Little League baseball as the boys grew up. These were great times. When our youngest entered high school, I realized I had an extraordinary amount of free time.
Living in Easton, I have always had ample access to firewood, and it would pain me to toss wonderful grained woods into the wood stove. So, around 2014, I brushed off the old lathe and started turning again. I made small simple bowls at first, which I would spend hours working on. I kept at it and kept improving. I would give bowls away to friends and family, but the bowls and other turnings began to accumulate around the house.
In the fall of 2015, Mary came walking into our kitchen with a smile on her face carrying a stacked pile of my bowls and said, “We need to get rid of some of these bowls, so I signed you up for a craft fair.” I ended up selling 8 pieces at that fair and had a lot of fun at the same time.
I currently do about 6 shows a year – all in Fairfield County. I also sell out of Greiser’s Market in Easton, and Adrienne has been very supportive of my work; however, the majority of my sales are still by referral from family, friends and colleagues who call me looking for something for themselves or for weddings and other special occasions.
I have had pieces sent to California, Norway and France. I recently sold my 100th piece! The majority of my pieces are made from local hardwoods; maple, cherry, ash, black walnut, and burls. Although I am primarily known for my bowls, I also make candlesticks, ring holders, hollow forms, and vases.
Many people believe I do this full time, and I have to remind them that I have a full time job at Synchrony, which I am grateful for, because they always promote balancing work and life.
I enjoy every aspect of the trade, finding suitable wood, chainsaw work, rough turning, finish turning, finishing, and of course, selling. Watching someone’s face light up when they look at a piece I’ve made for them is a great feeling.