Born in April, 1894, in Pennsylvania. Howard Ortman moved to San Francisco when he was approximately 20 years old. He became a jeweler, working at both Granat Bros. and Shreves. He married in 1923, but had no children.
In his early seventies, following his wife's death, Ortman started carving intricate, finely crafted sculptures of mixed woods and marrow bones. The highly polished and detailed carvings are especially remarkable since Ortman had lost most of the sight in one eye. He carved over one hundred pieces in a 7-year career, but never exhibited anything in his lifetime.
Howard Ortman died in the early 1970's, leaving all of his work to a close friend.
[biographical information from The Ames Gallery]