About Jon


The Short :

I  work as an itinerant craft builder with no particular home base.  I enjoy travel and will go anywhere for the right project.   I specialize in construction of wood-burning masonry stoves for efficient heating and cooking, timber frame construction, and earthen construction including straw insulation and natural paints and plasters.  I have studied under (and continue to learn from) builders and artisans in Argentina, Chile, and North America.

The Long :

I grew up in Texas, Colorado, and South Carolina before studying at Yale University where I received a BA in History.  After college I  traveled the world with the Yale Whiffenpoofs and then worked for a year as a teaching assistant at The American School of London.  I found my way back to the US via the trans-siberian railroad and took up as an investment banker in the storied “house of Morgan.” I watched from my desk behind a double-wide computer screen as the financial system collapsed and was sent packing before I had a chance to earn one of those legendary bonuses.  Not sure what to do next, I set off on a journey towards Tierra del Fuego and along the way found the joys of farmwork and rustic living through WWOOF.  I truly fell in love with a different way of living in the small town of El Bolson, in the Patagonia region of Southern Argentina.  I ended up living there for 4 years, most of that time in a yurt alongside the crystal clear, turquoise Rio Azul.  I delved into farming, building, and such “homestead arts” as brewing, fermenting and herbal medicine.  El Bolson’s thriving natural building scene gave me ample opportunity to develop skills and experience in crafting natural insulation systems (straw mixed with clay), sculpted clay walls, clay paints and plasters.  I developed skills in framing with large, round timbers, usually harvested from the work site. I also developed a keen interest in building ovens and stoves.  Southern Argentina is very much a “wood-fired culture” and I saw first hand the importance of creating stoves that are safe, efficient, clean (smoke/emissions), and low-maintenance.  I found myself entranced by the world of masonry heaters (also called mass stoves, russian fireplaces, finnish stoves, etc.) and began an intensive period of study and practice in Argentina and the U.S.  I have worked with and/or learned from a number of talented stove masons including Flemming Abrahamsson, Max Edleson, and Carsten Homstead and many other talented masons of the Masonry Heater Association of North America.  In parallel to my stove building endeavors, I have continued to develop my skills as a carpenter and was selected as a 2013 Summer Apprentice at the Heartwood School, where I completed a 3-month immersion program in timber framing and home building.   Amidst a built world that is increasingly fast, modular, cheap, replicable and disposable, I believe we should foster true skills development for youth, celebrate the trades and  patronize the timeless, methodical work of crafstmen.  I have been a student, teacher, and/or collaborator at several craft schools including the Cob Cottage Company, North House Folk School, Driftless Folk School, and the Heartwood School, as well as a teaching collective called BioConstruyendo in Patagonia.