Learn The Process - Brave Ceramics: Raku Hexagon Candle Holder

Feliz is pleased to introduce Christina Williams of Brave Ceramics to our Spring Sale this year. She's a first-time Felizer, but a long time ceramic artist, and her work displays the kind of technical ability of someone who's long studied the craft and is able to create work that is skillful. For the most of us who don't quite understand what "Raku firing" is, Christina explains it in a deeply loving, personal way. Read on! 

I build all the Hexagon Candle Holders completely by hand. Initially, I cut down large blocks of clay and roll theses into flat, thin slabs. I then use everyday plastic objects to imprint the slabs, adding textures and depth to the clay surface.

As a child, I collected dollhouse furniture in shoeboxes that served as rooms. I had a wooden bedroom set with tiny pillows, a wooden dining room table and chairs, and a bathroom with a ceramic sink and working cabinet doors. I enjoyed the idea of playing with miniature versions of functional, real life objects. When creating my Hexagon series, these memories flood my mind and the same pleasure arises.

After formation, it is time to fire the clay. Raku firing techniques create unpredictable colors and surfaces because of temperature and environmental variations. Pottery fired in a raku kiln is removed when the pieces are still molten hot. You can feel the heat and hear pieces cracking as they cool in the air outside the 1800 °F kiln. The heated piece is then placed in a metal container and covered with newspaper. At this point, the high temperatures ignite the paper, and the carbon from the smoke causes a reaction in the pottery as it cools. This creates unique colors and crackled patterns as the carbon seeps into the pottery's surface.

When the pieces cool and can be handled, I scrub the surface with a moist sponge to reveal the lustre of the final piece. I use a white glaze to highlight each piece’s unique response to this firing process.

The Raku Hexagon forms are visually pleasing sculptural pieces when used as decoration. When a candle is placed in the center of the form, they also offer interesting lighting patterns. I discovered this relationship with light during a candle lit yoga practice in my home.  Some Hexagons are made with a simple design that highlights the candle patterns, while others were created with varying surface textures and lines in order to bring the focus to the form itself.