The Ginkgo Studios

Mark P. Mooney Biosketch

Kathleen and Mark

Mark P. Mooney and his wife Kathleen M. Allen, a potter, are co-founders of Ginkgo Studios, LLC. Mark is a full time academic at the University of Pittsburgh and a part-time woodworker and stained glass craftsman. He is guided and inspired in his woodworking by the philosophy and beauty of the Arts and Crafts Movement of the last century. Honest craftsmanship, good design, and the use of organic materials are the cornerstones of his work.

His woodworking skills have been honed over the last decade and he has studied with Seattle-based artist and craftsman Thomas Stangeland on Greene and Greene style furniture making at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking; Ben Littl e and Tom Harris, two Roycroft Master Artisans, on Craftsman style furniture making at their studio in East Aurora, NY; and Master Craftsman Jeffery Lohr on Mission Style furniture design at his studio in Pottstown PA. He has also taken a number of basic and advanced woodworking classes from two local artisans and master craftsmen, Max Peterson and Dante DiIanni. He also teaches arts and crafts furniture and frame making classes at DiLegno Woodshop Supply in McKees Rocks, PA.

Mark is a member of the Pittsburgh Craftsman's Guild, Touchstone Center for Crafts, and he serves on the Board of Directors of the Western Pennsylvania Woodworkers.

Mark's work involves creating unique pieces based on designs by Gustav, Leopold, and John G. Stickley, Harvey Ellis, Elbert Hubbard and the Roycrofters, Frank Lloyd Wright, Charles and Henry Greene, and Peter and John Hall. These artists represent Craftsman, Arts and Crafts, Mission, Prairie, and Greene and Greene styles. Mark works mainly with traditional Arts and Crafts style woods like quartersawn white oak, African mahogany, and African ebony. While he appreciates the traditional use of hand tools, Mark uses both machine and hand tools to produce his pieces. He also tries to emulate the traditional wood stains of the period such as the fumed appearance of the white oak in the Stickley and Arts and Crafts pieces and the reddish orange hues derived from potassium dichromate as seen in the African mahogany in the Greene and Greene style pieces. Mark is also well trained in the Tiffany-style (copper foil) method of stained glass construction and creates lamps in the Greene and Greene and Arts and Crafts traditions.

While Mark makes multiple copies of his work, subtle variations in wood, stains, waxes, and his changing skill level and mind set all guarantee that each piece will be a unique creation.

"Art and honest labor: The essence of the Arts and Crafts movement". (Darrell Peart, Greene and Greene: Design Elements for the Workshop, 2005).

Kathleen M. Allen Biosketch

Kathleen is an archaeologist and potter who has studied archaeological pottery made by Native Americans and other tribal people. Through this work, she has come to appreciate the knowledge and skill involved in the production and transformation of earth and minerals into well-made pottery suited to its purpose. Kathleen has been making pottery for the last fifteen years and use traditional hand-building techniques for forming pottery such as pinching, coiling, and slab work. Her pottery often echoes traditional forms and styles and she incorporates surface textures and carving that maintains a close connection between nature and the finished piece.

Kathleen's key sources of inspiration come from ancient potters as well as the arts and crafts movement of the early 1900s. The focus on simplicity, nature, and purpose, evident in these works is a touchstone for her efforts. Her skills have been developed through self-study and workshops that have focused on hand-building, replicating traditional pottery in the northeast and southwest of North America, and on alternative firing practices.

Kathleen uses interior glazes for my vessel forms hoping they might be used for functional purposes by those who own them. She prefers to leave large portions of the vessel exteriors unglazed but with surface alterations in the form of textures or carvings, along with the application of oxide washes or the natural surface of the clay exposed to the effect of the flames in the woodfire. Some of these exterior surfaces take on the organic character of natural landscapes and the built environment exemplified by adobe architecture. Her ceramic tiles continue these themes through images of the natural world and Native American motifs. Her color palette lies primarily in earth tones and those of the natural world. Kathleen feels a connection to the past through the act of making pottery - performing the same actions that have been done for thousands of years. Making pottery transformed the material world and is transformative of the individual today through this connection to the past.