Welcome to Mark Gardner Woodworking! Here you’ll find a variety of wood objects from salad bowls to decorative vessels and from spoons to sculpture. Each piece is made by hand from locally sourced hardwoods from the mountains of western North Carolina. Be sure to check out my Shop for available pieces as well as my teaching schedule in the Workshop section.
I was born and grew up in Cincinnati, OH. Woodworking was my father’s hobby and I was introduced to it through him and I feel lucky to have started learning woodworking as a teenager. Dad had a lathe and I fooled around on it from time to time but it wasn’t until I attended a two week woodturning class at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in 1996 that I was “hooked” on the turning process.
I moved to Saluda, NC in 2000 and have been able to focus on my woodworking since opening my own studio there. In addition to making my work, I teach and demonstrate woodturning around the country for woodturning clubs and craft schools.
I make a wide variety of functional and decorative objects from locally sourced hardwoods. From salad bowls to totemic sculptures. Most of my work tends towards the simple in form which allows me a canvas to embellished the surfaces using various carving and texturing techniques, such as engraving, wire-brushing and branding. To help make these patterns and textures stand out on the work I use milk paint to create contrast between the wood tones and the paint.
My salad bowls are user friendly and food safe as I use a walnut oil and beeswax finish on them that I make myself. When making these I start with a whole log and cut out slabs with a chainsaw. These are cut into large disks on a bandsaw before mounting on the lathe to be rough turned to bowl shape. These “roughed out” bowls are dried in a kiln for a couple months until dry and then remounted on the lathe for final turning and sanding.
Inspiration for much of my decorative turned work comes from my interest in mid-century modern design, especially ceramics from that period. Lucie Rie is a favorite. My sculpture is inspired, in general, by my interest in Oceanic and African art. There is a looseness to the forms and carvings of the Oceanic and African art that I admire greatly. This contrasts with the ceramics of the mid-century modern era which are much tighter and is a way of working that I naturally tend toward. I find it more of a stretch for me to try to incorporate some of that looseness that I love in the Oceanic and African art in my work but is well worth the effort for me creatively.