My life-long journey of working with my hands began with wood shop at San Fernando High in 1959. I really enjoyed building projects out of wood. I also enrolled in electrical shop where I designed and built an electric motor that won the top award from the San Fernando City Rotary club. It taught me a valuable lesson: you could be rewarded for creating nice work. Shortly after high school I started down parallel roads of working with wood as a carpenter during the day, and fabricating with various types of metals as a drag racer in my free time.
After hanging out at Bobs Big Boy in Van Nuys in the '60s I was influenced to build a '37' Chevy coupe for B/Gas drag racing. I learned a lot about working with metals and machine shop techniques. I even built the engines and raced the car from '64 '68, setting a speed record at Irwindale Drag Strip of 121.80mph. In 1963 I had joined the California Air National Guard at the Van Nuys Airport and worked in the welding shop until I got out in '69 and I started my own racing engine shop. I learned the racing game through the school of hard knocks. Back in those days there were no dedicated racing schools or books published on the subject.
In 1973 I designed and built my own dirt bike with a .049"- thick, 4130 chromemoly tube frame for light weight -- just 220 lbs ready to ride. This experience taught me a lot about metals along the way: bending, forming, machining and finishing using such methods as anodizing, chrome and nickel plating along with polishing techniques for a finished look.
In 1980 I started designing and building toy trucks for Smith Miller, 20 in all using metal spinning, stamping dies and press brake bending to build the toy truck bodies. In '86 I had switched over to contract design work and wanted my own product so in 1994 I started Motorcycle Fine Art building 1/4-scale bikes gaining more knowledge about castings and CNC machining. Collectors around the world sought after these limited quantity 1/4-scale motorcycles. At the same time a little voice inside of me kept saying, "let’s go Don and create a new look for the art world." After a few sketches I drew the blueprints for the Golden Blades and Golden Wood Sculptures. Then it was off to the CNC machine shop to start making chips out of metal and wood. I added some great looking polished 24 kt gold and chrome plating, plus an ultra-brilliant clearcoat for the exotic woods, and "Engineered Art" was born.
As I am about to start my 7th decade on this old rock we are all floating around on, I am humbly looking forward to entering the art world by introducing my new-look sculptures that are in a class of their own.
10 - 10 - 09