The works on this site are part of an ongoing series devoted to the expression of dream imagery using the
Raku ceramic firing process. Raku firing is like trying to capture a dream. The artist must gaze vigilantly through onrushing billows of smoke. He awaits the decisive moment to yank the ware from the blackening shadows. Upon awakening, the dreamer scurries to seize fugitive images with paper and pen before they dart from conscious memory. Dreams and Raku plunge their practitioners into a universe that is accidental, chaotic, unknown and momentary. They emerge from their trials, however, richly rewarded by the surprise and delight of unforeseen revelations.
The designs of my work are conceived as a planned series of resists to the one undeniable reality of Raku: the reduction fire. This occurs when the ware is taken from the kiln glowing hot and placed in a chamber where it catches fire and is promptly smothered. The trapped smoke from the fire will permeate the unglazed surface of the clay with black carbon. The glazed areas of the design resist the carbon completely. They will shine iridescently against the matte black of the areas that have absorbed carbon.
In a process that I call “sand pattern resist”, the plate is placed face down in the sand and set on fire from the back. Wherever the sand touches the plate, it blocks the carbon. This creates a contrapuntal pattern of black and white that accompanies the glazed areas with surprisingly beautiful results.
Working or co-operating with the elemental forces: fire, earth, air and water is one of the great attractions of Raku. For me, Raku is a spiritual process. It is a means of putting mental images from the unconscious into play with the elements. As the artist, I become the intermediary of these conflicting and disparate forces. I direct the process. In my work, I orchestrate fire, earth, air and dreams.
onslaught of the carbon
is turned back by the sand. It leaves a gradation that is beautiful in itself and evocative of nature and consciousness.