Courtney Tomchik, Clay Artist
Courtney Tomchik, Clay Artist from Hendersonville, North Carolina creates one-of-a-kind raku fired clay sculptures and pieces that are creative art from the soul.
Growing up in the mountains of Western North Carolina I was exposed to beautiful colors and textures – now reflected in my artwork. I am An Artist that loves what she does. Each creation is a one-of-a-kind part of my soul.
I have loved playing in dirt all my life. I have a degree in Ceramics, thus giving me the knowledge to bring my work to life. I first have an idea that is created in clay and most always takes its own shape by the end of the process.
The process starts with many different textures and forms that I use to get varying impressions in the clay. My work is dried to a bone-dry state, meaning there is no coldness to the touch. It is then bisque fired to about 1500 degrees. During this phase I generally have an idea in my head of which direction my piece is headed. If there are to be additions added on later this when those will be decided and will make the piece truly unique.
I will glaze each work with a variety of low fire glazes particular to the raku process. The raku firing stage is when the magic happens. I place my pieces in the kiln and bring them anywhere from 1850 degrees to 2100 degrees with a propane burner system. Once the kiln has reached the temperature I want, I turn the gas off, raise the lid, take each piece out and place it in a garbage can with newspaper. This stage is so important to the outcome of the work due to the rapid cooling from kiln to container.
The piece when put in the garbage can sets the combustible on fire, and cools quickly. The oxygen is taken away and the smoke penetrates the clay and glaze enhancing the range of colors and finishes. I leave each piece in the can for between 10 and 15 minutes to further cool before taking the pieces out and placing them in a bucket of water.
The water phase stops the color process and sometimes creates flashes that are not visible until it is cooled completely. Once cooled, the piece is cleaned with an abrasive cleaning agent ash deposits. After a 24-hour drying period, I then assemble my pieces and add my additions. My additions are usually found pieces manmade or handmade. I will use glass beads from local shops or from my travels. I make small additions out of clay to add to my work, as well as add gold leaf to create more drama. Each piece is unique to It self and is truly one-of-a-kind.
Raku Firing is a trial and error process which makes the outcomes unique in their selves and even more exciting the more you learn and try new things. I am always experimenting, thus making my work always changing, unique, and sometimes raw.
I live in the mountains of Western North Carolina, Hendersonville to be exact with my husband and son. I have a ceramic Degree from Appalachian State University. I have enhanced my learning process of clay from area workshop and from trips to JC Campbell Folk School.