Here is a brief biographical sketch for those of you who want to know more about the pottery and the potter.

From the time I was a young boy, my twin brother, Ray, and I always had interest in art and creating things. I still have lots of drawings which I created when in grade school attending the one-room Diehl's school at Bally, PA.

When I turned 20 years the US was drafting young men into the military. As a conscientious objector (CO) to war, I served 2 years in "alternate service instead of serving in the military. I entered the Mennonite Voluntary Service program near Phoenix, AZ, where I worked among migrant folks in educational and recreational programs. Making crafts was an important part of my work.

I attended Hesston College in Kansas. There Paul Friesen, potter and art professor, introduced me to pottery. At Hesston I made the decision to major in art. Meanwhile, Sandi and I married in 1964. I graduated from Goshen College, Indiana, with a BA in Art Education in 1966. After 4 years of directing Voluntary Service I was led to Seminary studies at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminaries in 1970.

Then came a real switch from my original plans! I served as pastor of the Pleasant View Mennonite Church near Goshen from winter of 1970 to spring of 1981.

In the mid 1970's I bought a potter's wheel and began to make pottery part-time as a hobby. My interest grew! It was a real challenge and enjoyment to create with clay.

In August 1981 my wife, Sandi, and I, along with our two daughters, moved to Bally, PA, where I served for 17 years as pastor of Bally Mennonite Church until December 1998.

Most of my work is functional and decorative, and my goal is that my artwork expresses a grace and beauty both in appearance and use. I want my work to have a spiritual dimension to it that offers something positive to those who handle and use what I make. Pottery demands energy, discipline and imagination on the part of the potter which is seen and felt in what is created. Yet there is much room for spontaneity in pottery-making. My favorite statement in Proverbs expresses the Spirit at work in the creative process: "Then I was the craftsman at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence..." (Proverbs 8/30)


Soon after our move to Bally I developed a pottery studio in our basement. I bought a Brent Model C electric wheel, a great improvement over the generic one I had! The next purchase was a used J235 L&L kiln for $100.00! I presently own three L&L electric kilns. That worked for 20 years until the insurance company forced me to move out of the basement! Now I have a great studio in the back yard where all the work is being done.

Daniel Rhode's book on Pottery Form has influenced me to pay close attention to developing good form and shape in the pottery I make. A well thrown pot should have a good feel to it, and it needs be a bit exciting to look at! If it is a functional piece, it should do what it has been created to do -- a pitcher should pour, a lid should fit, the mug handle should fit the fingers that hold it.

The PA German custom of painting designs on household items has fascinated me. It was one more expression of creative ability from within the human being. I like to integrate designs such as plant forms and earth lines on my pottery that fit a vessel made from the good earth -- "nature's art designs."

"Parables From the Potters Wheel" is a presentation I've been given to share in churches, retreats and various other settings. Life's lessons spring from the process of forming a pot before our eyes. In these presentations I make a few things on the wheel and tell a few stories and see what comes from it. These parables sketch a vision of a loving God as "Master Potter" carefully crafting a Life in us as we pay attention to living our lives. These opportunities came as a surprise to me, but I have welcomed them as a privilege to encourage others to use their creative gifts to help improve our life together.





Berks County


clay crafts


Oakleaf Pottery
560 Kulps Road
Box 33
Bally PA 19503