Custom Made Drums

As a fine artist and craftsman, I work with my hands, heart, and soul, for myself as well as for the community. There is an unspoken dialogue in my creations that, at its essence, is about the things I have learned through retreats, hikes, and time spent in nature. I value the earth, the spirit, ceremonial traditions, and the sacred. I believe that drumming provides a ritual to connect to ones’ higher self and expanding spirit, ultimately fostering connection. Through craft, heart, and with a ceremonial blessing, I hold space for the intentions of each owner. The process results in the birth of a special drum created to support the owners journey. Options include integrating personal items and painting. To order your custom drum, contact me at 414-460-4500 or by email at More images of my work can be viewed on Instagram.

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An A-Okay Day




An Okay Day


You saw that Quinn and I went to the pow-wow.

I hadn’t been to that in 20 years when I moved here from New Jersey. Back then I bought a medicine wheel that is now old and faded. I have kept it in all my vehicles. This time I purchased a new one and gave it to Kelly.

When Quinn and I attended, It was charged with energy. I asked him the day before if he wanted to go. I said it’s like a party. He said ok ☺. After arriving we parked and immediately someone gave me a free ticket to get in. As we approached the entrance another person gave me ten dollars worth of food tickets. Quinn was excited and bouncing. When we are together it feels like we’re old friends

The pow-wow is kind of touristy now, but you need to see in the gaps. There was a model teepee at the entrance. There was a small group of people viewing it from the outside. I walked right in, Quinn in hand. I think this surprised the other people. He liked it too.

The whole experience had a very soft and relaxing feeling now. This is not common for me, but I saw it coming. Usually when I feel this way, it will often be with Quinn. He anticipated this party, wanted to go and go with me.

We approached the first dance,drumming and singing. He really did not want to go, pulling my arm desperately and hard. “Okay,” I said, “We’ll watch from a distance.” The drumming was calling to me. I do not like loud noises, but the drumming felt like a pillow. If Quinn was not there with me, I’m sure I would have flown away.

Before we left to go the event there was kind of preparing at home. I considered if appropriate to wear my feather from the hike, also my grandmother’s turquoise necklace. I even considered wearing my favorite boots even though they are the most uncomfortable, but this was about relaxing, so I chose to leave it all behind. I should have brought my feather, but my brother showed up (in spirit) there later anyway. He is with me often and Kelly usually confirms that too.

We did much walking, food, drink, and shopping. I practiced restraint, but Quinn was there to get a wolf shirt. I noticed as time passed, he was relaxing more too. The walking started to take its toll and we needed to rest our feet. We sat along the lake and finished some food. I looked across the inlet and saw a Large teepee and that outside of it, a man sat in a chair wearing a large top hat. The smoke from the fire was very noticeable. Usually, being socially nervous, I don’t take risks, but I said, “Quinn, let’s go over there”. Seeing the water between us, he said, “The sign says no swimming”. He said it again, “But we can’t swim.” I replied, “No, we must walk around and follow the path over there, pointing to the bridge”.

It looked like a long walk, so I was surprised to hear him say okay without hesitation.  As we entered, the men stamped our hands and I joked with Quinn that kids must get stamped on the forehead. He laughed and chuckled “Noooo” he said. We play like this a lot.

Starting on the long path instantly I felt it. I was relaxed, cool, grounded, and proud. I felt kind of like there was no other place I was suppose to be at that moment. I realized I’ve felt this before. It was at the canyon when I was truly empowered, exiting it for the first time. I was flying. I wasn’t alone. My angels were there. Always Corey and my grandmothers come into my mind, then a lion and a crow and thoughts of the wind. The wind feeling almost sweeps me away. It kind of comes from behind and upward but also from within. It is very much a cool sensation that runs up my back and arms, forcing the hairs on them raise. I exhaled deeply and smiled. As I proceeded to the teepee, Quinn was still there,running about and on sensory overload.

There is nothing more important to me than my new inner dialogue, being aware of clarity, trust, and calmness. There is a self-assured presence that comes with it, one that echos “speaking your truth” or living your truth”. I like to think of it as letting go of the small power I think is big and at the same time remembering part of my present life’s goal is to simply expand my spirit.

In the larger teepee and at the sacred fire, I stopped to explain to Quinn that we can’t really fool around here and that this is like praying. The fire is lit with the intent of prayer for the world, but you may bring your own prayers in too. The two men there were kind of big. I noticed this all day too. A lot of Native American men are really big. I nodded to one and asked if we may take some tobacco for the offering. He was very polite. I was very cautious and deliberate. Exuding the utmost respect for everything there. Both Quinn and I grabbed a pinch of tobacco and went to the fire to sprinkle it in. I was quiet. It was a short moment. Quinn was so close he got smoke in his eyes and had to back up. He shuddered because of it. I could have stayed there forever.

I tried to figure out what and how I was feeling. It felt kind of like goodbye and maybe a thank you too. We turned to leave, but I just couldn’t. They allowed us to enter the teepee. This time he went in first. This was different. It was warm. It was inhabited. There were modern things too, of course. The men were taking shifts to keep the fire lit. That was the goal.

As we started to leave it was very important that I address these men with my heart and honor. The first was in his crappy folding chair on his cell, talking. He wore a vet cap, seasoned skin. I walked right up and interrupted his phone conversation and shook his hand as brothers, saying “Thank you.” I was in the Canyon again,as myself, free. He returned the handshake and we nodded. If you know me, I believe the sacred is not spoken and when connecting with others this way a nod is all I need. It is a natural interaction, a silent understanding, short and sweet. The other man was bigger sitting in another crappy chair. He wore a top hat. The four directions mark was painted on it. A medicine wheel. He was talking casually with some tourist. I actually butt right in. I think I just said, “Hey.” He looked up at me. I held out my hand for a brother’s shake. I think I surprised him, but he realized this was important or just important to me. His hand was huge (larger than mine), coarse and strong. I saw the sky in his blue eyes next to his leathered skin. I said thank you again and motioned to the fire. He chuckled to Quinn, patting his head with his laugh. We nodded together before I left. Back to the Pow Wow.

It was good, maybe even the sole purpose of going, and Quinn was there to witness it. I’ve only known this feeling once before, at Corey’s funeral. Fly high. Skibrotha.

On the street a brother’s shake often goes lame, and understandably so. Although when there is a connection, it pops or snaps, and indeed that person may very well be your brother. The little things within the mundane are important moments.

Back at the pow-wow arena, now sitting close and present, Quinn’s head bobbed with the drumming. Eventually leading to his whole body to move. This is true Quinn. His dance comes naturally. Music speaks strongest to this boy, paralleled, perhaps, by his love of dogs, puppies and presently, wolves. He is full of joy and it is unlike I have ever experienced. He’s got a little Oma in him and certainly Lolo too. It was An A-Okay Day, and it was so. Ah ho



Beard Blog

screen-shot-2017-01-16-at-1-04-45-pmLast November, I was lucky enough to be a guest blogger for Thanks, Jessica Kaminski, for letting me be part of your story. Just in case you didn’t get to see the post, I am posting it here. Grateful, as always, for the opportunity to reflect and share.

The Wow Factor

Sometimes we forget our goals, our values, and the purpose of going into business in the first place. They say it’s a rat race…maybe for some. I disagree. What does that say about you?

Roof Top Chopped – /rooftop-chopped/

Great Clients, great crew, great design, and a great experience for everyone. It’s the sole purpose of the industry and of what we do. The world of custom. After the project was over, the client came to us and said “Wow, you guys really knocked it out of the park. Out of a 1to10 this was a 13.” I couldn’t agree more. I could tell everyone involved felt the same. We were very grateful.



Sunday Mornings

kidsAs a small business owner, the word weekend doesn’t really apply. This morning I woke with concerns of to do lists and then I started to daydream. Star Wars has been on TV all week (fav) so I feel like a kid again. I was there when all this started. Then I look around coming back to reality and remember my lists …..I am not a kid.

On the couch the other night, my daughter (a high school junior) softly said, while not looking at me, “I don’t wanna get old.” I replied, “You mean like Grandpa?” She said, “No, like you.” Instantly, I remembered myself as a teen saying, “Yeah, I’ll probably die at 25,” as I exhaled some smoke from a Marlboro Red. I was young and cool, so I understood her feelings. That was our only conversation that day. Father and daughter quality time.

Back to my lists. Still downstairs, coffee in hand, thoughts swimming. Soon I heard smaller footsteps upstairs. Quinn, 6, was waking up. Quinn waking is the sign that the sleeping is done for the house. I know my quiet time is coming to an end. Smaller foot steps walk to the bathroom. Door slams. Buddha, his stuffed animal best buddy, in hand.

Living in a small houses (a family of 6) the boys outnumber the girls (at least the dog died). The house is small enough and with one bathroom everyone usually knows who is in there and what they are doing. Now that I am old, I have to say I have never heard such powerful streams from the boys before in my life! I swear it’s like being on a farm, all unique, like a signature or a voice. The pee is strong in this young one (I won’t name names, but someone in the house could take the paint off a car).

Soon after Quinn started peeing, he, out loud and simultaneously started to sing, “Ohhh-oh say can u see by the dawns early light.” Yes he was singing the national anthem. He just learned this in school and is very proud he has it memorized…almost. There is a part where he does sing a long, “yeaaahhh waaayyyy.” I actually did the same for years. Kelly eventually corrected me, but old habits never die. Hearing his small voice, while peeing, I bust into a deep laughter. I love this kid. He has taught me to play again. My laugh is so loud that I am sure the neighbors heard (a far cry from the regular yelling and screaming). This isn’t a post about patriotism. It is about innocence and the uninhibited creativity of the house. We are a family of artists, designers, actors, musicians, and athletes too. In other words, a crazy house. We are a tornado. Having PTSD and mood disorder, it can be challenging for me. I contribute to the tornado too. I am now proud myself singing ” Ohhhh say can you seeee….” But I am not peeing. But have long since crossed back over from the dark side. A good friend once shared with me, “Don’t worry about the Jones’s. Be the Jones’s. That we are. Finally.

Expand your Spirit, Parachutes not Allowed


Recently, I went to the Grand Canyon.

It was a retreat, an intentional rebirth. I went there to learn my values, to learn to set new boundaries, to transition from anger to forgiveness, to create new goals, and ultimately discover my purpose. The trip helped me remember the magic/essence of life, reassuring me that it’s okay to dream, okay to play, and to be specific too… but mostly to love. Starting first to love within and then as I realize it’s okay, to share that with others, and then the universe.

I started the journey with a kind of nervousness. Ultimately for me, in the beginning, was anticipating a return to the source or a maybe just allowing oneself to, allowing myself to feel present, while at the same time embracing the infinite unknown.

Part of that unknown parallels the unknown of “Can I achieve the result? Will I achieve my intention? Can I do this?” By accepting my fears and making myself vulnerable to the possibilities, a transformation takes place. That’s the magic. Expand your spirit, find your castle, envision the grandiose.

I left the retreat feeling proud, confident, adaptable, protective, and kind. A lion. I left knowing that at the foundation of my being there is a need to expand my spirit, learn my story, to know my intent.

Returning to the shop, I have poured that spirit into each new project, fully investing myself into the work, remaining grateful that it not only keeps pouring in, but that my clients share my values.



IMG_5716To learn more about the retreat or to go on one yourself, click here:


Custom, Custom, Custom

Feels good to be back in full swing post injury. Custom, custom, custom. We can build anything. Finding the flow in the process and the reward in providing for others. Grateful. Thank you all for you patience. Let’s get to work.

The Boy Within the Dragon

During a painting I go to a place that’s kinda dark.
Fear, pain, anger, and rage reside there.
Good or bad, it was a place one learns, necessary to survive.
A boy within the Dragon.
The problem is,regardless of predisposition it has become habitual and a learned reaction.
Maybe fight or flight,
Maybe addictive,
Maybe safe,
but also no longer necessary.
Unlearning is difficult without deciphering. Remapping.
I’m very good at surviving,
May be The Best,
but it comes with a growl.
While painting I must face it, go through it, and leave it lying there on the floor.
I don’t like be vulnerable ….
But I am trying.

Art About Life, Not Life About Art

My art has never been fragile. We have had a lot of fires. I think art/painting and such is about process, not a destination. I don’t think it should be on a pedestal. One may learn, discover, release, and grow. The beauty is in the process not product. It’s something to get you there. If you take a long trip and drive to get somewhere, when you arrive you don’t turn around and say “nice car”. Art is about life, not life about art. If you haven’t lived, you might as well not paint. Really, I hate talking about art and the intellectual/ego that seems to go with that because painting is a silent or loud interaction with oneself. Afterwards, take it for what it is, or leave it. It’s of no consequence.

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