After retiring in 1990 from the City’s public works department where he was employed for 33 years as chief public works engineer, Bill Gardner’s interest in “fixing things” led him to take welding classes that awoke his talents to creative metal work. His creations take the forms of metal key rings, trivets, business card holders, book ends, wind chimes, gates, and garden stakes, made of steel and brass emblazoned with the Raincross*, a symbol identified with the City of Riverside.
Long before he incorporated the Raincross in his own forged metal items, Gardner had a vision for its ornamental use throughout Riverside. In 1970, he proposed having a foundry make cast-iron tree well covers with the symbol for Lime Street. The symbol was later added to bridges, overpasses, and street signs. Gardner has been honored with the Chairman’s Award by the Riverside Downtown Partnership for his vision and diligence in establishing the Raincross symbol, now synonymous with the City of Riverside.
In addition to Gardner’s artistic creations, large and small, he repairs old locks from the 1920s and 1930s, and forges skeleton keys. He works out of his garage studio and offers workshops on welding and metal sculpture.
Contact information: Creative Metal Work, 5141 Hallwood Avenue, 951.686.1729.
Gardner’s work is featured in the Blue Door Museum Store this month and make great gifts, whether for a resident or visitor who wants a reminder of the City of Riverside.
* Mission Inn founder Frank Miller got a U.S. patent in 1908 for a design featuring a two-armed cross above a mission bell in a trapezoid. The Raincross symbol was inspired by the mass bell of Father Junipero Serra, founder of the California missions, and the double-cross, an ancient symbol used by Navajo and Pueblo Indians for the dragonfly which emerged each year after the summer rains. In Native American culture the dragonfly represents water, life, fertility, and sacred power.
Blue Door Museum Store