During the first month of this year, Sam Roderick says he had a friend who underwent surgery and he wanted to do something more than simply wish her well. His initial idea was to use clay to sculpt an egg without a center. He wanted to write his friend’s name and a prayer for her on a piece of paper and put it in the open space.
Unfortunately, he found that crafting such an egg proved too difficult. Fortunately, Roderick didn’t stop thinking of a way to create something that could hold a prayer or a wish.
Roderick started Wonderland Craft Studio, where he makes a variety of ceramics varying from dual purpose water pitcher/plant-watering device to something he calls wish people. He is also entering a piece in the upcoming Mayor’s Art Show. He titled his piece “Teacher and Students.”
Roderick says that he hopes that his wish people can create a new type of ritual for people who want to send out more than verbal prayers and wishes. He says that people of any faith or even atheists can use them to find a way to connect beyond their own thoughts and wishes. Roderick also says that his original concept for his wish people has expanded beyond his original intent. He says that customers have used them as birthday gifts and wedding presents.
Before moving to America, Roderick was born and grew up in the Philippines, where he lived in Manila with his adopted parents until the age of 10. He says he learned Tagalog, Mandarin Chinese, and FuJian, another dialect of Chinese that was spoken by his adopted family. Roderick later moved to Glendale, California, where he enjoyed the underground music scene of nearby Los Angeles and learned Spanish. Around the age of 22, he moved to Washington state and eventually discovered respect for Buddhism which he says keeps him in check. His Buddhist interests prompted him to learn the Tibetan alphabet.
Roderick has lived in Eugene, Oregon, since 2002. He previously worked as a graphic designer, working on websites, and still does some work for a few clients.
He also has worked for three years with Sacred Heart Hospice patients, conducting life interviews for terminally ill patients. When he started working with those patients, Roderick said he wandering if the patients were going to accept him, but found people willing to share their life experiences with him. He says that he has a list of guidelines for how to interview patients, but can’t always go by those guidelines. He compares his interview experiences to driving a car, saying that the patients are driving and he’s in the passenger’s seat.
Roderick became interested in both Hospice work and ceramics after his mother, Betty Roxas-Chua, suddenly passed away on December 28th, 2005 of an aortic aneurysm. He went to a bereavement group and after hearing grief stories, he says he felt like he needed to talk about her passing.
Roderick says his mother was a business woman who started a dress shop at an early age. He said she started many businesses throughout her life, and he thought she was very courageous in doing so. One of the reasons he creates with clay is to give tribute to her.