Skip to main content

Artists and Educators

Meet the Artists Event

Annika Nelson introduces the talented artists of the Craft Center.


Culinary Arts

  • Christina Ng

    Christina Ng

    Culinary Arts

    A San Diego transplant by way of San Francisco, Christina is a personal chef and food educator rooted in supporting local farms and California growers at every meal served. A graduate of University of California, Davis in the area of Food Science, Christina has worked in various arenas of the food service industry including grocery, catering, hospitality, and corporate kitchen positions. She draws on all of these experiences to drive her events and classes across San Diego County.

  • Lisa Porfirio

    Lisa Porfirio

    Culinary Arts

    As a French-trained pastry chef, Lisa has honed her craft extensively in bakeries and restaurants throughout France and Québec. She infuses her classes with the culinary wisdom she has cultivated in her professional and personal life, and her deepest desire is to share her knowledge and empower students to connect through cooking. She looks forward to embarking on a culinary journey with you!

  • Delaney Smith

    Delaney Smith

    Culinary Instructor

    As an anthropologist at UCLA, Delaney studied the way food connects us to our culture and community, so it was inevitable that she would learn to cook. She enjoys being creative, infusing new flavors and techniques into nostalgic dishes. She has practiced her craft in catering kitchens, bakeries, and camps, while working on her Master’s studying dietetics. Delaney's philosophy is that what we eat should be both delicious and nutritious!


  • Lisa Maywood

    Lisa Maywood

    Lisa Maywood discovered stained glass in high school. After graduating from USC with a BA in Communication Arts and Sciences, she took a six-year detour in advertising, before returning to her original calling: stained glass.

    In 1999, Lisa moved to Europe to study at the Ecole de Vitrail et de Creation, in Monthey, Switzerland. Surrounded by centuries-old churches and cathedrals, she learned the techniques and traditions of the craftsmen who built the stained glass windows of Chartres, Lausanne and Notre Dame. Upon, completing a three-year intensive program in drawing, painting, design and all aspects of the stained glass process, Lisa returned to San Diego and founded her studio, Verre Designs. Over the years, she has restored windows in churches such as St. James by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in La Jolla, and designed and repaired leaded windows for houses both vintage and modern throughout San Diego. She also produces art pieces and decorative objects in leaded and fused glass.

    Lisa has shown her work at the Swiss Museum of Stained Glass in Romont, Switzerland and the Centre International du Vitrail, in Chartres, France. For 15 years, she taught stained glass at a private art school in San Diego, prior to joining the teaching staff at the new Craft Center at UCSD in the Fall of 2021.  She has a studio and retail store at Liberty Station. 

    To learn more about Lisa and her stained and fused glass artworks, please visit


  • Suzanne Balestri

    Suzanne Balestri

    Glass Work

    A native Californian, Suzanne Balestri was an interior designer when she first began her explorations with kiln-formed (or “fused”) glass. In 2017 she began teaching kiln-formed glass locally through the Art Glass Guild of San Diego and Fallbrook School of the Arts. Suzanne graduated from San Diego State University with a BS in Marketing / minor in Advertising. She also received her BFA at the Design Institute of San Diego.


  • Denise Sarram

    Denise Sarram

    Denise is originally from Brooklyn, NY and the New Jersey shore.  She relocated to Southern California in 2001. The theme of her main body of artwork orbits around her Sicilian family’s immigrant experiences in America and their journeys across the sea. 

    Denise ((bonaimo)) Sarram (BFA), assemblage/jewelry artist and instructor,  has been teaching since 1995. Denise is immensely grateful to have been immersed in a career creating, exhibiting and teaching art. She has also been instrumental in the local community to foster an environment of creative enrichment for various organizations for the last 25 years.

    Denise works on multiple works of art simultaneously, using elements from her extensive collection of found objects which she forages from thrift stores, antique stores and resale shops. Throughout her entire career there has been a theme of upcycling- the process of converting waste materials or cast-away objects into something of intrinsic, aesthetic or practical value. She wire wraps, bolts, drills, glues, collages, paints, sands, saws, molds, sews, bends and forges the various parts of her designs to create with an artful eye, skillful hand and heartfelt intentions.

  • Lisa Mueller

    Lisa Mueller

    Jewelry and Metalsmithing

    Lisa Mueller was initially trained as a metalsmith, making jewelry and functional metal objects. She attended San Diego State University, studying in the Jewelry and Metalsmithing program under the instruction of Professor Helen Z. Shirk. As part of her curriculum, she also participated in studio courses, which focused on painting, drawing, printmaking, ceramics, and sculpture. Following her years of study in San Diego, Mrs. Mueller entered the Metalsmithing program at Cranbrook Academy of Art where she studied under the instruction of Artist In Residence Gary S. Griffin.

    In the fall of 2004, Mrs. Mueller was appointed a position as Artist In Residence at Oregon College of Art & Craft. Her role at the college could be defined as both a conceptual and technical adviser to the students working in the studio. In 2005, she was awarded an additional residency at Denkmalschmiede Hoefgen in Germany. She spent a focused period of time there creating a body of work.

    Mrs. Mueller has exhibited in numerous galleries both nationally and internationally. Currently she resides in San Diego, and is both an educator and a practicing studio artist. She has been teaching art at the college level for the past 13 years.

  • Tara Magboo

    Tara Magboo

    Jewelry and Light Metals

    Tara received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Rhode Island School of Design with a major in Illustration and minor in Jewelry and Light metals in 2001. After undergraduate school, Tara worked as head jeweler for a fashion jewelry company from 2002-2005. There, she gained knowledge of jewelry on a mass production scale and a hands-on view into the inner workings of running a jewelry business. Afterwards, she attended graduate school at San Diego State University where she received her Master of Fine Arts degree in Jewelry and Metalsmithing in 2009. Prior to graduation, Tara started teaching jewelry courses and workshops at the original UC San Diego Craft Center in 2008 till it closed its doors in 2012. In 2009, she started her own jewelry company, Adorable Mayhem, and regularly exhibits her work through prominent retail shows such San Diego Comic Con International and Design Festa in Tokyo, Japan.

Mixed Media

  • Kim Hillman

    Kim Hillman

    With a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from UCLA, Kim has worked as a Graphic Designer, Art Director, and Project Coordinator in the US and Europe for over 30 yrs. As Co-owner/Designer of inkfish, Kim has focused on print design for the wine, music, retail, theater, medical and education fields. As a way to balance her work in the corporate /digital design world, Kim loves leading workshops in a range of Hand/Applied Arts. As a Craft Center Instructor, she loves introducing students of all ages to the world of Altered books, Bookbinding, Block Printing, Artist Trading Cards and Hinged Paper Dolls. There is such beauty in imperfection and in learning to embrace the hand-crafted within a digital world.

  • Cathy Sparks

    Cathy Sparks

    Cathy Sparks’ focus is easily accessible, unpredictable, and “messy” art-making for all skill levels and physical abilities. While earning her masters’ degree in Expressive Arts (Therapy, European Graduate School, Switzerland) her eyes were opened to fresh interdisciplinary engagements of community art, social contexts, and integrative cultural practice.  She currently bridges community with distinctive forms of mosaic and sculpture in groups ranging from young children to seniors.  Her inspiration includes an intense study of UCSD featured mosaic sculptor, Niki de Saint Phalle.  Before that, Sparks spent a career in graphic design and marketing, making best use of her BFA from Colorado State University. As a mosaic instructor (UCSD Extension, Mira Costa College) and private teacher for over 10 years, Sparks continues to design and co-create independent large-scale sculptures and murals.  That independent project focus in social change and community development extended into the Barrio Logan neighborhood and morphed into her Cat Sparks Art!, inc. studio. The motto: “When in the art-making process, we open up to compassion and empathy for one another and create community.”

  • Susan Wickstrand

    Susan Wickstrand

    Susan Wickstrand was raised in La Jolla, and is a local artist in Encinitas. She graduated from USC with a B.A. in Fine Arts and works in various mediums from oil, acrylic to oils and encaustic (wax) collage on wood panels.

    Wickstrand has been a professional full-time artist for over 25 years and has exhibited extensively throughout the U.S. and abroad, with artwork displayed on various T.V. shows including ABC’s “Modern Family,” “Parenthood”, and “MTV Real World.” Her work has also been featured in numerous magazines and periodicals as well as public and private collections. She has collaborated with master photographers Art Brewer and Jeff Divine for her collages and worked with Rip Curl as their “Artist of the Search”, where her commissioned collages appear on apparel for the brand. Susan’s work can also be found at the Greenroom Galleries in Hawaii and Japan.


  • Lucy Wang

    Lucy Wang


    Lucy Wang, an international renowned artist, graduated from the National Taiwan College of Arts in Taipei, Taiwan. She has blended her Chinese painting background and the influence of western painting techniques to develop an innovative style of three-dimensional watercolor on silk, which was featured by "Lynette Jennings, Design" on the Discovery Channel, and "Our Place" on Home and Garden TV. Her monthly educational television program, "The Magic of Chinese Brush Painting", is broadcast on several local cable television stations. Lucy is the author of five Chinese brush painting books which have been published and distributed worldwide. She also taught Chinese brush painting for over 30 years at her studio/gallery in the Spanish Village Art Center in Balboa Park as well as the original UC San Diego Craft Center (1996-2012).

Pottery and Ceramics

  • Allen Reed

    Allen Reed

    Allen Reed’s first experience with clay was in high school at Poway High. He was given a potters wheel and a small kiln for graduation then went to UC Santa Barbra where he received a B.S. in Biology. Allen has been teaching high school ceramics in San DIego since 2001, and has been a member of the San Diego potters guild since 2013.

  • Amber Hamblin-Pederson

    Amber Hamblin-Pederson

    Amber Hamblin-Pederson is a born and raised, San Diego based artist. She graduated from San Diego State University from the School of Art + Design with a BS in Applied Design with an emphasis in ceramics. Her artistic focus is mainly on non-functional sculptural forms and decorative pots where she tries to electrify the surface by combining color, texture, and pattern. Amber has always had a passion for teaching and enjoys guiding students through the creative process. When she’s not in the studio, she enjoys spending time with her husband and their furry children at their home in Fletcher Hills.
  • Ellen Fager

    Ellen Fager


    Ellen Fager received all of her formal training in ceramics at the original UCSD Craft Center. While still in high school, she started to take classes there, hanging out on the kickwheels in the (then) front patio. After college she took more classes and workshops, managed the clay studio for a while, and was invited to teach, which she continued to do off and on until the Craft Center’s closure in 2012.

    Since then, she has been teaching at the San Diego Potters’ Guild, where she is a member. She is also a member of the Allied Craftsmen of San Diego and the Five Potters group. Most of Ellen’s work is wheel-thrown, almost always paddled, pounded, cut and pasted. In the 1990s, she made teapots in the shapes of fish that were exhibited nationally. More recently, she has been more interested in geometry. She is continually delighted by the things that happen when the symmetrical, utilitarian products of the potter’s wheel are altered and combined.

  • Geraldine Vergnet

    Geraldine Vergnet

    Geraldine Vergnet has been working with clay for 15 years, learning in France before moving to San Diego where she improved her ceramic knowledge at Southwestern College and various ceramic workshops. Since 2019 she has been teaching private hand building and wheel throwing in her home studio.

    She has mastered all ceramic surface decoration techniques and enjoys sharing her knowledge, helping students to discover what technique suits them the best to express themselves.

    Her current work, handbuild functional ceramics with translucent porcelain and cobalt decoration, can be seen at the San Diego Potters’ Guild, the Art Gallery L'Atelier in Mission Hills, and Cobalt Gallery in South Park.

  • Hiromi Minemura

    Hiromi Minemura

    Hiromi Minemura hails from Aichi prefecture, Japan, which holds the Six Ancient Kilns of Japan since the 13th century.

    She started her ceramic work in New York in 2002 and has experience in three pottery studios there: Togei Kyoshitsu, Greenwich House Pottery, and Brickhouse Ceramic Art Center. After time in the DC area at Lee Art Center and as a member of the Ceramic Guild and Scope Gallery she moved to San Diego where she has been teaching in her home studio.

    Her works are functional, made of both stoneware and porcelain, using underglazes, stains, and slip trailing, and carving. She specializes in Kintsugi (Golden Joinery) technique, which is the art of repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage with lacquer dusted with powdered gold, silver, or platinum.

  • Meredith Habermann

    Meredith Habermann

    While teaching in Japan in her early twenties, ceramic artist Meredith Habermann fell in love with clay and decided to pursue a career in ceramic arts. Over the past twenty years through various internships and apprenticeships, work as a production potter and educator, she developed a broad fluency in clay.  Meredith recieved her MFA from San Diego State University in 2020. She studied Environmental Design and Japanese Language while at Franklin and Marshall College from 2004-2008.

    Through her art practice, Meredith explores the basic human desire to connect and how that need for connection drives us to conform to the culture we are in. Currently she is teaching at Lux Art Institute and Grossmont Cuyamaca Community College. Meredith is a tenant at Bread & Salt in downtown San Diego. There she continues to work in functional pottery and contemporary ceramic arts.

    Instagram: @meredith_habermann_ceramics

  • Nancy Barbour

    Nancy Barbour


    Nancy Barbour received her MFA from the University of Florida, in Gainesville after attending Humboldt State University. She lived in Northern China for three years where she taught art classes at the International School of Tianjin, studied Chinese painting, and enjoyed a ceramic residency at The Pottery Workshop in Jingdezhen. She coordinated the Ceramics programs at Colorado Mountain College and the Mendocino Art Center where she was an artist in residence. Nancy is a member of the San Diego Potters Guild and creates her work at their studio in Spanish Village.

  • Ryan Gray

    Ryan Gray


    Ryan Gray is a native of upstate New York and draws heavily from the influence of that area. After graduating from Lewiston-Porter, where Ryan first was exposed to the world of ceramics, he was accepted into SUNY Buffalo. There, he majored in ceramics and acted as the president of the student-run ceramics club, The Coalition of Ceramic Designers. Ryan graduated with a B.S. in Ceramic Design and went on to complete his Master of Fine Arts degree at San Diego State University.

    Upon graduation Ryan has worked as a Ceramics Professor at Miracosta College, Miramar College, and Southwestern College. He has also helped start and run two non-profit Ceramic studios in the community, at the Lux Art Institute and Charity Wings Art Center. He has taught ceramics to children for the past 9 years at the Gateways Summer School, and continues to work in functional ceramics, sculpture, and painting.

Surfboard Shapers

  • Valerie Duprat

    Valerie Duprat

    Valerie loves every aspect of surfing from riding the waves to making the surfboards. As a full-time biochemist with a doctorate, she finds that surfing and shaping have given her an opportunity to balance her life (and she is much happier because of it).

    What started as a hobby has grown into a steady business, and the list of clients for her company, Mere-Made Surfboards, keeps growing. Over a period of about 10 years, Duprat has made approximately 280 surfboards, all of which have been customized for each client as a unique work of art. She is constantly expanding her knowledge of the craft by studying with masters in her native France, California, and Hawaii, including world-famous shaper Matt Kinoshita. She is one of a rare breed of female shapers in a field dominated by men, and while the competition has been very rough at times, she has also found that being different gives her a strength that is not easily matched by others. Duprat says that when she puts her heart and soul into every surfboard that she makes, her customers feel the stoke.

  • Chase Jacoway

    Chase Jacoway

    Chase grew up in Ramona, California - and despite the distance from the coast, has been surfing since he was four years old. In 2013 (as a freshman in high school) he shaped his first board in an abandoned horse stall and has not been able to stop since. After years of practice making boards for friends, Chase started shaping with Solid Surfboards in Ocean Beach and has been with them for the past five years.

    Chase has also worked in various shops with many different shapers and board builders over the years, taking the knowledge he has gathered along the way and applying it to his own board building techniques. Chase Jacoway Surfboards has been a passion project for him as he pursues pushing design elements and testing new theories. Chase's love for creating and art has led him to pursuing an education in graphic design and treating his surfboard creations as functional works of art.

  • Brian Loch

    Brian Loch

    Raised in Cardiff by the Sea, Encinitas, CA, Brian Loch was drawn to the ocean from a young age. He started surfing when he was 9 years old and immediately immersed himself in the surfboard industry. Loch began his career at Ding King Surfboard Repair, where he was trained by Brian Szymanski (owner), a notable in the industry who has designed and shaped for top surfboard brands in the world. Working at Ding King helped Loch pay his way through college, where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in Economics from California State University, San Marcos. Loch specializes in surfboard glossing and airbrushing and is currently working at Bing and Jacob’s Surfboards, along with craftsmen who produce some of the highest-quality boards in the world. Loch is currently using the skills and knowledge he has gained from his education and 15 years in the surfboard industry to begin his own company, Westlake Street. Westlake Street twists many of the same techniques used in surfboard building to create unique, handmade board games and tables.

    You can learn more about Loch’s work here: 

  • Dave Migdal

    Dave Migdal

    As a California native and San Diego resident, Dave has been surfing for over 50 years. He started shaping in 2015 after retiring from a local Aerospace firm. Dave has shaped about 3-4 boards a year since, with solid mentoring from a core of professional shapers.

    A big part of Dave’s retirement activities has been centered on Bird’s Surf Shed. Dave volunteers and/or just hangs out at “The Shed” on a regular basis. Time at The Shed has greatly increased Dave’s knowledge base on board shapes, fins, and how they work together.

    Dave’s personal shaping logo is “Anakala Surfboards”. Anakala means “Uncle” in Hawaiian as Dave is “Uncle Dave” to his nieces and nephews. Dave’s motto is “Ride what you shape!” and that fits right in with the ethos of the UCSD Craft Center Surfboard Shaping program!

    Dave is a San Diego State University alumnus with Industrial Arts and Master of Business Administration degrees. His industrial experience and hands-on shop time let Dave create shaping tools and aids to make shaping easier for beginning shapers.

  • Kyle Scialpi

    Kyle Scialpi

    Kyle Scialpi is the owner of Barefoot/Scialpi Surfboards Orange County, CA.  He began his shaping career while working at Used Surf in San Clemente. There he was able to get his hands on a variety of different equipment/ make templates and start to explore the world of shaping. Later he managed to find his own space and start diving deeper into the world of board building. Kyle has also had the opportunity to help built prototypes of white-water rescue sleds; an ongoing project and partnership with the owners of Accurate Fishing to produce a new standard of white-water rescues across the USA. A self-taught artisan, through these projects Kyle has been able to develop a unique approach to surfboard building and foster a true love for working with his hands.

    Kyle's love of nature and art is reflected in his academic degrees and prior work experience.  He has studied liberal arts and sustainable horticulture, built gardens and outdoor classrooms. His experience and dedication to working with his hands through shaping and art, makes him a fun and valuable asset at the craft center.

  • Brian Szymanski

    Brian Szymanski

    Szymanski is an internationally known shaper and designer who is the lead adviser for our shaping program in the Marco Wolfinger Surfboard Shaping Studio. He designs surfboards and paddle boards for several top companies, as well as for world renowned athletes, such as Rob Machado, Connor Baxter and Annabell Anderson. As an athlete himself, he has won the Catalina Classic twice, and has participated in 16 consecutive Molokai to Oahu races. He has also worked on high profile art commissions beyond the surfing industry including several art installations for the Alila Marea Beach Resort in Encinitas—a collaboration with designer Mark Zeff. Szymanski describes himself as a strong believer in the "transfer of knowledge" and enjoys mentoring and supporting the surf teams of his local schools.

  • Jon Wegener

    Jon Wegener

    Jon Wegener has been shaping since 1987 and has dreamed of doing nothing else except surfing and shaping ever since. After his college years in San Diego, he returned to Hermosa Beach, CA and began to work on his passion full-time. In addition to starting Wegener Surfboards, he has shaped for a number of veteran shapers including Hap Jacobs and Bing Surfboards. In 2010 Jon moved to Encinitas, CA. As a board maker Jon has always tried to find the right board for the right conditions, so he makes and rides a huge variety of surfboards.  Depending on the surf conditions he rides anything from a finless wooden alaia, to a “traditional” fiberglass noserider, or a progressive shortboard. In 2005, Jon’s brother Tom Wegener introduced Jon to the Alaia after a trip he had taken to the Bishop Museum in Hawaii. The two brothers have been making Alaias, and Paipos, and trying to get the word out ever since. Along with the boards they make they have been spreading information about Paulownia wood, a special wood perfect for making surfboards. Since Jon began working with wood, he has not only looked for ways to combine his two passions, he has strived to make his regular surfboards “ASAP” (as sustainable as possible). Jon is more excited about where the surfing world is going now than at any other time in his surfing/shaping career. 



  • Amy Crumbacker

    Amy Crumbacker

    Amy Crumbacker has been crocheting since the age of eight and learned to knit about 8 years ago. Learning her passion for diy crafts at a young age from her father who is an avid woodworker helping him with projects such as building a garage door and bunk beds. Amy is a San Diego native that is also a UCSD staff member. Crochet always being a hobby she enjoys teaching many friends and coworkers over the years how to crochet. 

    Amy creates all types of items when crocheting or knitting from blankets, hats, sweaters, and amigurumi.

  • Chris Padilla

    Chris Padilla

    Chris Padilla received two degrees, one in painting and printmaking and the other in art history from SDSU in 2012. He has spent the last 9 years working with leather, using high quality sustainably sourced leather from all over the world to create luxury leather design and handmade goods. When he’s not working, Chris loves hiking and hanging out with his two cats.

  • Sarah Winston

    Sarah Winston

    Textile Arts

    Sarah Winston has been designing, dyeing, and weaving apparel and accessories (as well as preserving collectible textiles) for over two decades. A graduate of San Diego State University, she found her passion when enrolling in the graduate program for Applied Design in Textile in 2000. Over the years, her work has been featured in various group exhibitions such as the San Diego Visual Art Museum and the San Bernardino College Art gallery. She has received 1st place and honors at California Weaver’s Conference and numerous fiber art shows. She has 12 years experience in the museum world as a textile collection manager and received formal training through the CSU Long Beach and at the International Preservation Studies Center.

    Her dual cultural heritage from Switzerland and Nigeria is reflected in her hand-dyed, handwoven work. Her sources of inspiration are the harmonious colors and textures of nature, and her mentors are the traditional weavers and dyers of South Asia, Japan, and West Africa. She uses the beauty of natural fibers (linen, silk, hemp, and alpaca) with the subtle radiance of natural dyes and traditional techniques to create simple, elegant, wearable pieces.


  • Michelle Stein

    Michelle Stein

    Michelle Natividad Stein is a multidisciplinary artist with a focus on wood, ceramics and textiles. She is an MFA graduate from San Diego State University (SDSU) specializing in Woodworking and Furniture design. Michelle has a BA in Art and Applied Design encompassing the mediums of wood, metal and clay.

    Michelle was born in Subic Bay, US Naval Base, Philippines and currently lives in San Diego. Her work draws upon her experiences as a non-native-English-speaker living in the American South and Southern California. She uses furniture and domestic items to explore nationalism, historic assimilation, acculturation, and feminine identity.

    Her passion is teaching, and she lives for that “Ah ha!” moment her students experience. Michelle teaches a wide age range from 1st grade to senior citizens. She strives to create an accessible, inclusive craft community.