Sheila and I lived in Roswell, Georgia for over 20 years.  In 2002 I was a 58 year old software engineer working in downtown Atlanta.  My employer merged with a larger company and moved to Minnesota.  I wished them well but elected to stay in sunny Georgia.  Because I was an expert in legacy computer systems, also known as a dinosaur, I decided to retire from the software business and turned my hobby into a small business.  My goal was to supplement Sheila’s income to a point where she didn’t kick me out of the house.  (Actually Sheila has been very supportive.)  When Sheila retired from her attorney practice in 2009 we decided to fulfill a long time dream.  We purchased a small home with some land in a rural area north of Athens, Georgia and built a pottery studio.

In fact it was Sheila who got me started down this path.  We graduated from Alfred University a school world famous for it’s ceramic arts college.  Although Sheila was a History and Political Science major and I was a Ceramic Engineer we both fell in love with clay as an art medium.

Sheila had been taking pottery courses at the Roswell Visual Arts Center for several years and convinced me to give it a try.  Since she is a functional wheel potter I decided to start off in a different direction and took a hand-building course.  About halfway through the session I remembered some small clay whistles we had purchased at the Eastman Arts and Crafts festival in Rochester, NY back in the early 1970’s.  I was always fascinated with these whistles and decided to try and duplicate one of them.  After a somewhat frustrating three or four hours I finally got the thing to make some noise.  When it was fired I took it home, all excited, to show Sheila.  She wasn’t extremely impressed.  In fact I could sense she was thinking “Oh, no what have I gotten myself into now?  He’s making things that make noise.”  But she mentioned that she saw a book advertised in a pottery magazine that shows how to tune whistles so you can actually play songs.  So I sent for Janet Moniot’s excellent book, “Clay Whistles… the Voice of Clay”.  A few days after the book arrived I had a crude but functional, four-hole, English style ocarina and was hooked.

Sheila and I were participating in a student/teacher show at the Roswell Visual Arts Center when we heard kids running down the hall shouting, “Let’s see what the whistle guy’s got”, and a name was born.


© David Chrzan 2014