Unison Pottery and Tile Works

Joan Gardiner is a tilemaker and clay sculptor. She also keeps bees.

Joan studied painting at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore and apprenticed to potter Jill Hinckley in Washington, D.C. before moving out to Unison in 1973 with the goal of having a horse and building a kiln. She found an old blacksmith shop and a falling down house in the tiny hamlet, which also had a general store, a gas pump, and a pay phone—all she needed to get started. Friends pitched in to help with labor and salvage materials to build her clay studio.

In 1982, a tile project with Steuart Weller of Weller Tile sparked Joan’s interest in the art of tilemaking. She began making decorative tiles for her home in Unison and since then her tilework has been installed in many private homes and public places, including the Ashburn Library, the Purcellville Library, and an alphabet wall at the entrance to The Hill School in Middleburg.

Joan is still living and working in Unison (pop. about 30) with her husband, the writer John Rolfe Gardiner.

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