Jim was born in San Francisco in 1939, a fifth generation Californian. He attended the University of California, Berkeley, and holds advanced degrees in Architecture. He taught architectural design at U.C. Berkeley and at University College in London for several years. James Prestini was his mentor professor in the Architecture Department at Berkeley. Jim is a licensed architect who has recently retired from his own Architecture and Planning firm in San Diego, California.
Although his profession has been as an architect, Jim’s long-time passion has been in woodworking, having been a woodcarver and furniture-maker for many years. He has been a woodturner for about 15 years. He turns a variety of objects, both faceplate and spindle. Most of the objects he turns are turned from wood given to him from the “urban forest” – people’s yards, downed street trees, trees from areas being cleared for roadways or building sites, etc. Form, proportion and understated decoration are consistent design considerations in his work. Each piece has its own unique history.
He maintains studios in San Diego, California and Kingston, Washington. His recently completed studio in Kingston is a pleasant, efficient and state-of-the art workplace in a remodeled barn on his small farm, with magnificent views of Puget Sound and the Cascade Mountains. Retirement from the active practice of architecture is affording him more time to devote to his passion, woodturning. A current concept that is intriguing his design sense is that of creating “transparency” in his turned objects.
He currently utilizes both a General 260 lathe and a Oneway 2436 lathe for his work. Most of his work is turned utilizing either Glaser A-11 tools or the Stewart DSE System, depending on the form of the piece. He employs a variety of carving tools including: traditional carver’s gouges and chisels, Foredom flexible shaft tools, mini-air die-grinders and Powercarver rotary tools.
His favorite wood is Apricot, but he is constantly exploring the qualities and challenges of working with almost any wood that he can procure. He tries to balance producing functional pieces and purely decorative pieces, although most of his “show” pieces are of a decorative or sculptural nature.
Jim is a member of the American Association of Woodturners, the San Diego Woodturners Association, the Olympic Peninsula Woodturners Club and Ornamental Woodturners International. Although self-taught, he has attended numerous symposia including AAW national symposiums and the BYU Symposiums in Provo, Utah.
He has mentored many woodturners both in San Diego and in Washington, drawing both on his vast woodturning experience and college teaching experience at the University of California, Berkeley. He has an extensive library of books on wood, woodturning and woodcarving. He has won many awards and accolades at both the club level and in such shows as the Design in wood show in Del Mar, California. One of his pieces was recently featured on the cover of the Fine Woodworking Magazine.
A community college course in pottery many years ago, taught by Peter and Peggy Voulkos in Oakland, California, laid the groundwork for his love affair with the round form. His studies in architecture included extensive courses in design and various art media. He enjoys woodturning because of the inherent beauty of wood and because of the discipline of the lathe.