Jack Straka grew up in Mahonoy City, Pennsylvania. He took woodworking classes in high school but abandoned this interest to work in the electronics industry for eighteen years. Traveling around Europe in 1972, Straka attended a two-day woodturning workshop in England and decided to leave his job and become a turner. He moved to Hawaii and opened a craft shop, using local woods to turn rolling pins, cutting boards, and bowls. His vessels are inspired by the simple shape of the “poi bowl,” a traditional carved vessel used to serve Hawaiian’s staple food of poi, or cooked taro root.