Frank Giorgini is an artist, designer, teacher, and author living in upstate New York, USA. He has a Master of Fine Arts in sculpture and ceramics from Southern Illinois University and a degree in Industrial Design from Pratt Institute, New York. He has been teaching courses in Architectural Tile Design at Parsons School of Design in New York City for the past thirteen years.
Frank Giorgini's book, HANDMADE TILES, (Lark Books, 1994) is in it's eighth printing and has become the instructional bible for tile making in ceramic studios, schools and universities around the country. In 1995 Frank was honored by receiving the Tile Heritage Foundation Award for promoting awareness and appreciation of ceramic surfaces in the United States. His ceramic design and fabrication company, UDU Inc., produces custom handmade tiles and murals for private and public installations. In 1995 Frank was awarded a commission by the Metropolitan Transit Authority of New York City to design the artwork for the Whitehall Street/South Ferry subway station of the N and R line in lower manhattan, and Udu Inc. is currently producing the art tiles he designed for the project.
Frank is considered the designer of the modern UDU DRUM. He first learned the little known traditional Nigerian pottery techniques for forming all clay side hole pot drum from Abbas M. Ahuwan in 1974. Over the years he developed many design innovations, clay body formulas, and firing techniques that have improved the sound quality, durability, and versatility of this instrument. Frank introduced the UDU DRUM into the United States and through his efforts the sound of the UDU DRUM has affected contemporary music on a global scale.This phenomena has resulted in revitalizing traditional clay drum production in Nigeria. UDU DRUMS made by Frank Giorgini were entered into the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York in 1985. His drums are used by the worlds leading percussionists and are in private and corporate art collections.
In 1998 Frank licensed the production rights of his Claytone Line of UDU DRUMS to the L.P. Music Group, one of the worlds leading hand percussion companies.This collaboration has yielded the finest instruments of their type commercially available at very accessible prices. His custom handmade UDU DRUMS are still available and still made by his own hands utilizing traditional Nigerian pottery techniques. Frank's handmade UDU DRUMS are recognized as being the very best in the world at any price.
Artist Frank Giorgini, designer of the modern Udu Drum, first learned about its primitive forerunner in 1974, while studying at the Haystacks Mountain School of Arts and Crafts in Maine. It was there that he met Abbas Ahuwan,a Nigerian potter, artist, professor, and expert in the rare art of making musical side-hole pot drums. The ancient "Udu," Giorgini learned,was not originally crafted as a drum, but as a water pot. When a potter of the ancient Nigerian Ibo tribe accidentally struck a second hole in one of his pots, he discovered a resonant sound from the clay vessel and the drum came to be used in Ibo ceremonial music.
Under Ahuwan'stutelage, Giorgini learned the traditional Nigerian pottery techniques used to create the all-clay drums. Giorgini began forming the instruments by ancient, time-tested methods: pounding, shaping, smoothing, drying, and firing the soft, earthen clay - the whole process taking about a month for each drum. Over the years, he tenaciously perfected the process- modifying the clay, the design, and the firing techniques to achieve superior tone and durability. He also consulted and collaborated with percussionists,including Jamey Haddad. Together, Giorgini and Haddad designed a two-chambered Udu,"The Hadgini," and a system for attaching internal microphones tothe drums.
In the years after his cultural-exchange experience at Haystacks, Giorgini earnedhis advanced degree in ceramics, but never forgot the basic tenet of good industrial design - that "form follows function." According to Giorgini, "The sounds from these hollow clay vessels are so related to their sculptural forms you can almost visualize the drums' shapes from the irauditory vibrations." On a research trip in the mid-'80s to Zaria, Nigeria, Giorgini met with Ahuwan, his former teacher - who "blessed" the new drums. On his return, Giorgini was honored to have the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City add his graceful Udus to their permanent collection.