Ken Beidler’s love for pottery started young, when he was 7 or 8. While he and his Mennonite parents were working in Indonesia with a church, he would make objects out of clay and leave them in the sun to dry. Today, he creates porcelain and stoneware that reflects the joy of creating something with his hands again.
Beidler and his family returned to America when he was 14. In high school, he took art classes, but after graduation he ended up going to seminary, eventually becoming a Mennonite chaplain, pastor and youth ministry leader. While his wife was pursuing her Ph.D. and he was home taking care of their children, Ezra and Toby, he decided to try art again. Beidler began by taking ceramics classes and apprenticing for a year, turning that into a full-time gig. His primary influences are Chinese and Japanese designs.
“I’m basically self-taught," he says. "I found teachers and mentors along the way to help me grow my skill and craft."
Beidler creates most of his pieces in West Philadelphia at his studio space at the Cedar Works, a reclaimed warehouse that serves as a shared community and work space. Beidler also allows other ceramic artists to use his studio.
All of his functional pieces (mugs, bowls, serving dishes, platters and plates) are microwaveable and oven-safe. Beidler's wares can be found online, at Go West! Craft Fest,and at VIX Emporium, owned by Go West! co-founder Emily Dorn. It's work that keeps him content: “I’m happy to be doing this."
To learn more about Beidler Pottery, visit beidlerpottery.com.