JL Gardner Woodworks
I had always been a bit of a handyman / “Jack-of-All trades”, or a real “ham and egger”, as one friend recently called me! I mean, I started my first business when I was 15 years-old working in my parent’s basement re-finishing furniture and repairing broken wood dining room table chairs. Of course, the only real customer I had back then was my parents and the guinea pigs for my initial experience in working with furniture was the old – outdated pieces sitting around our family homestead, but what the heck, it became my first proving ground for working with my hands and with wood. From those early days, I learned to love the smell of wood, the look of outstanding wood grain in a piece, and the feel of an excellent tool in my hands.
Fast forward to the early 2000’s when I bought my first house in west Pittsfield, Ma, and started a slow (and never completed renovation of that 100-plus year old house), which yielded a homemade bar on the first floor (the epicenter of many parties, too many losing poker hands, and a frightening amount of alcohol consumption by my cohorts and yours truly), a massive HO-scale train layout in the basement, and a burgeoning art business in my office on the 2nd floor. I learned pretty quickly that none of this was sustainable especially against the backdrop of the economic collapse of 2008 – 2009, but nonetheless, it served to hone and enhance my skills to create things with wood, and to keep the embers burning until I could re-kindle my craft in another wood shop, at another location.
In 2010, my pursuit of a sustainable existence led me to California temporarily to explore the possibility of locating back to the San Francisco Bay Area in the company of a couple older brothers, their circles of friends, and some old friends of mine from my life there in the 1980’s. Unfortunately, just as the 1980’s proved to me, the Bay Area is too expensive of an area to locate to without a decent job and income, let alone to try to establish an existence based on a craft that yielded little success back in Massachusetts. So instead, I turned my house in West Pittsfield into a rental unit and re-located my living to another brother’s house in Northampton, MA. That was good for a while, but destiny interfered, and I was attracted to the Capital Region of upstate New York by a woman who I had met years earlier and had fallen head over heals in love with. By January of 2012, I had moved in with this new partner-in-crime and started a new life in what seemed to be, an up and coming region of the country, perfectly suited for a fifty-something year old man looking for a fresh start.
This is still where I am at, some 8 years later, having created a new wood shop in the garage of the house of my wife of almost six years now. I have made numerous updates to this shop area, which occupies one of the bays of our 2-car garage, including heat so I can work out there year round, and most recently, the acquisition of a bench-top wood lathe that I hope to start using sometime in the near future to “turn” out some unique pieces. Earlier this year, I was also fortunate enough to come into two truck loads of cherry wood (thanks to an old Massachusetts friend of mine) that I am already busy making into various little items of wood, soon to be featured on these very pages, and if we ever break out of this Covid-19 Pandemic mess, in some of the retail locations where my artwork is currently on display and available for purchase. So, peruse the items currently available for sale and check back soon to see some of my latest creations!