'Dave the Potter' shifts his focus from clay to wood, and a second career

David Greenbaum builds on his lifelong love of paddling by making canoes, kayaks, and fishing boats

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  • David Greenbaum with one of his handbuilt canoes (Photo by Linda Fields)

  • David Greenbaum with a favorite clay kitchenware pot (Photo by Linda Fields)

  • Exquisite detail: a cane woven seat in one of David Greenbaum's handbuilt canoes (Photo by Linda Fields)

  • David Greenbaum's handbuilt boats (Photo by Linda Fields)

  • A Shohola Bell greets guests at the front of David Greenbaum's house (Photo by Linda Fields)

  • David Greenbaum in his boat-building studio (Photo by Linda Fields)

“Some of the passion that was bordering on feverish for most of my life was diminishing. I made most of the pots I wanted to make. It was time to explore another chapter in life.”
David Greenbaum

By Linda Fields

— David Greenbaum isn’t one to fear the changing tides of time. In fact, you might say the currents have brought him home.

The celebrated potter, whose burnished pots and Shohola Bells took on a life of their own, has now turned his attention to boat building. Not surprisingly, just as the artistic brilliance of his pottery dazzles the eyes of the beholder, so does the fine craftsmanship of his canoes, kayaks, rowing shells, and fishing boats.

Paddle sports aren’t new to Greenbaum, who said he was introduced to canoeing at a young age. And he and Joanne, his wife of 42 years and an artist in her own right, bought their first canoe early in their marriage.

"We were living in north Florida," Greenbaum recalled. "Sea kayaks were getting popular and I was involved with racing ocean kayaks and participated in regional and national events.”

In fact, Greenbaum studied oceanography in college and has a degree in recreation management. He opened up a paddle sports store in Florida with great success and learned a lot about the equipment.

Greenbaum’s pottery studio is now a boat-building studio. The change in direction gives him more time to look after his aging mother and return to an early passion. His home in Shohola is close enough to the water to allow him to enjoy the fruits of his labor.

“I not only enjoy building them, but creating new designs has taken a lot of my energy," he said.

Greenbaum can spend from four to eight weeks on a boat. Prices start at $2,500. The attention to detail is immediately noticeable. One of the vessels in his studio is crafted out of fir and steam bent ash from a local sawmill. Greenbaum said the fabric skinned onto the frame is “a remarkably durable Dacron that makes for a lightweight, remarkably performing boat.”

Now the challenge is to re-define himself, as Greenbaum turns away from pottery — so many knew him as "Dave the Potter" — and shifts his focus from clay to wood. Although he says his career as a potter was “an absolute joy," he admits, “Some of the passion that was bordering on feverish for most of my life was diminishing. I made most of the pots I wanted to make, and before it became a chore I thought it was time to explore another chapter in life.”

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