About John M / Circle

My Story

Born and raised on a 400 acre farm in the Central Valley of California, I have always had a love for open spaces and creation. The son of a part-time organic farmer mother and home-based carpenter father, creation and outdoor play were central to my upbringing. After divorce altered the course of my family at age 6, my mother moved my brother and I into the nearby small town, and a shift away from farm life and towards studying music began. My new normal became town friends, skateboarding, music lessons/practice and many adventures in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Shortly after the move, my mother became a 7th grade Public School language, literature and history teacher. Learning was always encouraged in our home. The decade following my move into town was filled with skateboarding, obsessive music study, fishing and camping. Due to a lack of funds, my goal entering High School was to find some way to afford a formal music education in college using skills I could gain in High School to acquire scholarships. To pursue scholarships, my focus shifted to honor bands, honor orchestra, brass quintets and thousands of hours of practice on the trombone and tuba. My obsessive qualities really started to emerge at this time. Studying music taught me in-order to become truly proficient at anything you have to be willing to do the work. Upon graduation from high school, I achieved my goal by receiving full tuition, room and board to CSU Northridge. My dream of attaining a BA in Music Performance and more importantly a career in the Los Angeles Orchestral world was slowing seeming possible. Life had different plans however. The summer following my first year of college my life was permanently altered when my mother suddenly died of a caught-too-late aggressive form of Leukemia. 

Now without parents, I found myself adrift. 

Almost overnight, a BA in music performance seemed like an unwise use of time and money. I needed to figure out how to financially support myself. And it needed to happen soon. One day in the fall of 2000 I found myself wandering around the San Fernando Valley, visiting as many smoke shops as I could find, spinning my wheels while avoiding figuring out what the hell to do with my life. That is when I happened past a shop in Reseda CA called "The System". It was there where I was first introduced to the idea of melting glass by a glassblower who went by the name of “Pyro”. Seeing the flame for the first time, the odd burning smells drifting through the shop, the extreme nature of the work, the madness of the workers, the opportunity of an apprenticeship… that was the moment I decided to drop out of college and take the opportunity offered by “Pyro” in the hopes that I would soon be able to make a hand pipe, and with that the ability to support myself. The small public school teacher’s retirement inheritance from my Mother would soon be gone and reality was waiting just beyond that. It was in that sweaty, noisy and poorly ventilated San Fernando Valley shop where I first began to learn about real life, the meaning intrinsic in intensely hard and hot work and the magic of molten glass. That winter I put my trombone in my CSUN locker for the last time, locked the lock, abandoned my instrument in the locker and literally walked away from music.

Almost 20 years after that day, I still find great satisfaction working with my hands and making objects that function well and are pleasing to look at. The complexities of glass mirror music in many ways and I approach learning about glass in the same way I approached music, very seriously and with conscious focus on technique and basic fundamentals. Like music, glass cannot be stopped and examined in the moment of creation. When glass is molten and when music is being performed, it only exists in the moment. If you try to stop it to examine it’s creation, it ceases to exist. It’s only when you are fully immersed in the creative moment, when it works.

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I currently live in Los Osos, California with my wife, Rose, and our two children (4 & 2) and old dog Jade. My family and I still carry on the organic “farm” tradition of our pasts with our family garden of 20 raised beds, a greenhouse, small orchard and 21 chickens. When my family and I aren’t gardening, we are surfing or hiking. I am an obsessed trail runner who is often training with a grueling run of some sort. I have a distant future goal of one day running the Western States 100 when my children leave home to begin their solo lives.

“We either make ourselves miserable or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same”.  -Carlos Castaneda

-John M / Circle