We at Ampersand are very proud to carry the Andrew Pearce collection, another legacy for the Pearce Family! Andrew's bowls are available in-store and online.
Below is Andrew's story and unique process for making his beautiful wood bowls.
We received this story from the Andrew Pearce Website.
INSPIRATION + INNOVATION
Several years ago, Andrew and his father, Simon, went to see a woodworking factory in northern Vermont that had just closed. There was one machine, a rough-out lathe, that Andrew had never seen before. Andrew fell in love with this machine. “I always thought there were two ways to make wooden bowls: machine made or hand turned. Hand-turned bowls can be quite expensive. Machine-made bowls are fast but boring.” The machine Andrew subsequently created (his own interpretation of the rough-out lathe) allows the woodworker to cut several bowls from a single block.
Like Simon, who developed his own method of melting glass, Andrew has combined techniques to create a safer, more efficient way to produce his wooden bowls. Some of the machinery used by Andrew Pearce today came from Simon Pearce’s original glassblowing business in Ireland. Just as Simon moved to establish his business in the U.S. when his wife, Pia, was pregnant with Andrew, Andrew began looking for incubator space for his new venture while his wife, Christy was pregnant with their daughter Madison. He found his present location on River Street in Bethel, Vt., close to their home in South Royalton. Noting that flexibility is key in manufacturing, he chose a large, free-span space with room for growth not far from one of the area’s leading log dealers, a source for raw materials.
THE BOWL-MAKING PROCESS
To dry the green wood bowls Andrew built his own low temperature dehumidification kiln from a shipping container and some sensors that allow him to customize the drying process for different kinds of wood. The dry bowls (with six to eight percent moisture content for ultimate stability—no cracking) are sanded by hand on a lathe that uses vacuum to hold them in place. This avoids the marks usually left by heavy clamps—and it is easier and faster to move from one bowl to the next. A bowl gouge—used for hundreds of years by bowl makers everywhere—is used to make designs. The bowls are oiled with boiled walnut oil, a high acid oil that replaces some of the natural oil in the wood.
THE VERMONT CONNECTION
Andrew uses cherry, and black walnut for his bowls. Most of the logs (except for the black walnut, which comes from New York state) are local—two to thirty miles away. But the local part is not what makes his bowls special. “It’s the fact that they are made in Vermont, a state well known for its ingenuity and innovation. And it’s the custom-made machinery.”
Andrew Pearce makes 20", 17”, 13” and 10” bowls in two designs named after Vermont lakes: Willoughby—with a decorative groove, a slightly raised foot and a lovely rounded rim; and Champlain—with a magnificent deep curve and a rolled rim with a hidden indent on the inside that feels good in the hand. Each bowl has a different weight and finish, not to mention the patterns that come organically from the wood. “You couldn’t reproduce these patterns if you tried,” Andrew says. “Only nature can make them.”
HANDCRAFTED WITH CARE
Andrew quotes his father: “The best place to sell glass is in a glass factory, where people can see it being made.” Andrew agrees with this philosophy and plans to open his process up to the public, welcoming them along on the creative journey.
“One of the special things about our bowls and any handcrafted item is the story. You can’t get that from a bowl stamped out of a machine in India somewhere.” says Andrew. “Our story is going to continue to evolve. A lot of care and passion go into every step of our process. It is not any one thing that sets us apart, but a combination of the whole. We have mechanized our process to the point where it is very efficient, but we haven’t lost the hand touch. I believe very strongly that the most important cut is the last one.”