John Jordan is a woodturner from Cane Ridge (Nashville), Tennessee, USA. Known primarily for his textured and carved hollow vessels, John has been featured in nearly every major turning exhibition during the past twenty years. His work has received numerous awards, and is in the perman ent collections of many museums and corporations, including the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, the American Craft Museum in New York City, the White House in Washington DC, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Mint Museum of Craft + Design in Charlotte, the Fine Arts Museum in Boston, the Detroit Institute of the Arts and the prestigious Victoria and Albert Museum in London, England.
John is in great demand as a demonstrator/teacher, traveling extensively to teach at universities, craft schools, turning groups and trade shows throughout the US, Canada, the UK, France, New Zealand, Australia and Japan, including an annual week or two at the world famous Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, the Anderson Ranch Arts Center and the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Maine.
His work is frequently seen in publications in several countries as well as articles written by him. In addition to his most recent video on the aesthetics and properties of wood, he produced two previous best selling woodturning videos, which received very favorable reviews.
John’s pieces are initially turned on the lathe, from fresh, green logs, using a number of techniques and tools that have evolved over the years. Each piece is then hand carved and textured, using a variety of different hand and small powered tools. This texturing process is very labor intensive, and can take as much as several days to weeks to complete. There is little room for error during this carving- one small slip can ruin the piece. A light lacquer finish is applied to most pieces, including the dyed work.
The pieces I make are simple but finely detailed vessels. Manipulating the color and patterns in the wood to complement the form, and the texturing and carving to create visual and tactile contrasts are important parts of the process and the result. What I feel is most important is the intangible quality that the piece is “right” that comes with putting emotion and feeling into the work.
A simple object can be very powerful and emotional just for what it is. These pieces are simply decorative vessels that reflect my interest in surface textures, contrasts and form, and the personal responses that I have to them, which I suspect are similar to the feelings that makers of objects have felt for thousands of years.
I am inspired by many natural things – trees, rock formations, coral reefs – since all of these things exhibit pattern, texture, etc. Ethnic objects such as pots, weavings and baskets are interesting to me as well, along with much contemporary craft and art. Any sort of art inspires, and I enjoy museum visits wherever I travel.
Probably the single largest influence at any time is the work I am currently making. It never fails to provoke and provide ideas. I am always curious to find out what I will do next.
Many of the woods I use are from the dump, construction sites, etc. I find great satisfaction in creating elegant objects from material that was destined to be buried or burned.
The wood of fresh cut logs is a very direct and responsive medium, with properties that are unique – not about the “woodiness”, but how it can be worked. With my knowledge of the material, I can exert a great deal of control over the desired result. I am able to work with surface textures and shapes that would sometimes be difficult in other materials. I am, however, connected to the material of wood just as a potter is connected to clay – it’s what I do and who I am”.
AmSouth Bank; Birmingham, Alabama
Arkansas Arts Center; Little Rock, Arkansas
Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts; Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Bank of Nashville; Nashville, Tennessee
Birmingham Museum of Art; Birmingham, Alabama
Carnegie Museum of Art; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Columbus Art Museum; Columbus, Georgia
The Contemporary Museum; Honolulu, Hawaii
Detroit Institute of Arts; Detroit, Michigan
Fitzwilliam Museum; Cambridge; United Kingdom
Fuller Craft Museum; Brockton, Massachusetts
Gelman Library; George Washington University; Washington DC
The Gregg Museum of Art & Design; North Carolina State University
High Museum of Art; Atlanta, Georgia
Hunter Museum of Art; Chattanooga, Tennessee
Kamm Teapot Foundation; Encino, California
Knoxville Museum of Art; Knoxville, Tennessee
LA County Museum of Art; Los Angeles, California
Long Beach Museum of Art; Long Beach, California
Mint Museum of Craft + Design; Charlotte, North carolina
Minneapolis Institute of Arts; Minneapolis, Minnesota
Mobile Museum of Art; Mobile, Alabama
Museum of Art and Design; NY, New York
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Boston, Massachusetts
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Houston, Texas
Philadelphia Museum of Art; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Racine Museum of Art; Racine, Wisconsin
Smithsonian American Art Museum – Renwick Gallery; Washington, DC
Tennessee State Museum; Nashville, Tennessee
Victoria & Albert Museum; London, England
The Wood Turning Center; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The White House Collection of American Crafts; Washington, DC
Yale University Art Gallery; New Haven, Connecticut
“True to Form”, American Woodturner, 2012
“Textured Candleholder”, Woodturning Magazine, 2012
“Carve and Texture a Hollow Form Like John Jordan”, Woodturning Magazine, 2009
“How to Create the Perfect Hollow Form”, Woodturning Magazine, 2009
“How to Orientate Wood for Maximum Visual Impact”, Woodturning Magazine, 2009
“Turned and Carved Hollow Vessel”, American Woodturner, 2009
“Understanding Green Wood”, American Woodturner, 1998