Mark Gardner resides in Saluda, NC.
I have always enjoyed working with my hands. I’ve done lots of different things with my hands, from set construction and painting, to sculpting clay to woodworking. There is something about working with wood that gives me the most satisfaction.
I started working with wood as a child. Woodworking was my father’s hobby so there were always scraps laying around for me play with. I started making furniture when I was sixteen. Dad enrolled me in a furniture-making class at the University of Cincinnati where he taught English. During my senior year of high school, Dad took a woodturning class from Al Stirt. I remember him coming home from the class with bags of bowls he had turned in one week! This had a huge effect on me. Furniture making is a slow process, and the immediacy of turning was very attractive to me. After struggling on my own at the lathe for several years, I took a class with John Jordan at Arrowmont School for Arts and Crafts. I credit John for giving me a firm foundation of turning techniques. John’s passion and commitment to his work continues to inspire me.
I work primarily in green wood, as it is readily available to me in quantity and size. This influences my work, as not every piece I want to make can be made from any random log. So, in a way, working with wood the way I do is a bit like using found objects in sculpture. I like that the material differs from species to species, and tree to tree, which presents new challenges and opportunities. I may have an idea for a piece and have to let it sit in a sketchbook until the right piece of wood appears. In other cases a piece of wood, its size and proportions, may suggest a particular approach to me and send me off in a whole new direction.
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