Artists' Open House Weekend-Studio Tours in Susquehanna County PA

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Andrew Gardner
of Gardner's Willo'work

Following 1979, due to personal, financial and physical circumstances, I separated myself from the art world, even as I explored other artistic avenues. Graphic designer, photographer, art director, book designer, were some of the paths taken, and as I often returned to drawing and painting, I had come to the end of working in printmaking.

In 1991 I began a dual exploration of furniture making and wheel thrown ceramics. Parallel paths, but connected, as they fed one another. The bentwillow furniture became the public side, through craft shows, web sites, exhibitions, etc. The ceramics was more personal and private. I often referred to my work with ceramics as the “outer manifestation of the inner journey.” True indeed, as the boundary between spiritual and creative paths is blurred at best, if, in fact, they are not one in the same.

During the summer of 2001 I built my first wood-fired kiln, and with it began a different sort of journey. The ten previous years of throwing had given me the forms and shapes I was concerned with, now I moved beyond the simple application of “surface” to those forms. The intense heat and prolonged firings together with flame and ash combining with the stuff of the clay yielded surfaces unplanned and unimagined--unique.

My second wood kiln was built in 2006, and since then, clay, and wood, and time, and temperature have been my media. In what I call my “journey of a thousand bowls” I have long since lost count. In the early years I was scrupulous about record keeping for each firing and each piece made. Detailed firing logs were kept, so as to be able to review problems, failures and correct them. Records of clay and glaze recipes were carefully maintained. My clays are mongrels now, raw clays from the earth, with no clear ancestory. My favorite glaze, when I use one, is a mixture of several similar ones--never again to be duplicated. The firing logs are kept in my head or in the heads of others who have partnered with me in firing. Each firing is a journey into the unknown and unexpected. Each time I sit down at the wheel, it is for the first time.

I have no accurate count of how many pieces I have made or how many firings I have done, or participated in. What I do know is that now, after these many years, I have a body of work which I am proud to be identified with.

Andrew B. Gardner
Thompson, PA


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