Andrew Berends has been a potter since 1976. He received a B.F.A. from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University. The following year he traveled through Spain, working with several traditional folk potters and learning "old school" techniques. In 1986 he received a M.F.A. from Montana State University at Bozeman in ceramics and drawing then went on to be an artist in residence at Anderson Ranch Art Center, Snowmass, Colorado. Berends says, "my work is about treading that fine line between art and craft, between old and new. I respect ceramics as a historical entity yet at the same time I want to push it in to future". His work is represented by over 140 galleries throughout the country and has exhibited in many prestigious national exhibitions as well as in many private and corporate collections throughout the U.S.
Raku is a sixteenth century Japanese firing process originally intended to produce ceremonial tea ware. It involves firing a piece to around 1850 degrees F., pulling it out of the kiln with tongs, then placing it in combustibles such as sawdust. The glowing piece is forced to smolder and is engulfed with smoke. This smoke changes the chemical composition of the glazes by creating a "reducing" environment. This changes copper glazes from green to metallic red, while turning any bare clay black. A crackle effect is created when a hot piece is pulled from the kiln into the cold air, causing the glaze to shiver and crackle. As smoke penetrates the piece it enters the tiny array of cracks turning them black. Because of the unique Raku process, no two pieces will ever be the same.