Spreading holiday spirit in their own way

Raku Santas might look tired, but they are no less festive

Santa is coming but he scarcely resembles the jolly fat man we all know. Ceramic artists Susan and Jim Kirchmer fashion raku Santas that are as long and lean as El Greco figures, with expressions that reflect the laborious firing process used to create them.

The Kirchmers fire their raku pottery then transfer it to a closed container with combustible materials (newspaper and leaves) that ignites and causes a reaction that creates colorful crackled patterns on the design.

“The Santas and angels go through this tortuous raku process,” Susan said. “We sometimes drop them by accident, and they crack on occasion from the rapid expansion and contraction, so they tend to look tired, bored or angry.”

She finds that the caricatures seen in movies such as Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas” make for far more interesting sculptures than those that people associate with being cute.

“I’m not opposed to cute, but I like something that’s more thought provoking,” she said. “If they just looked jolly, they’d be just like the ones you can buy anywhere.”

Kirchmer’s Santas come in three sizes, the largest measuring 19 inches high. They also create raku angels, and next year, they’ll offer whimsical snowmen with quirky faces. While they are nearly sold out of both Santas and angels for 2008, the couple is accepting orders for next year.

Susan, a member of the Rancho Santa Fe Art Guild, first became involved with ceramics in 1975 after taking a class in Ohio. Her husband, Jim, joined her in the artistic quest about a year ago after retiring from his job in the computer industry. They work together out of their Lake Hodges studio and garden situated on nearly an acre of land. The rural area tends to inspire their work.

“Clay being earth draws its inspiration from things in nature, and we live in an area where we can grow things year around and be outside so much,” she said. “We feel very moved by nature and we’re often carving flowers and bonsai motifs on the pieces.”

Jim has always had a hand in the business. He built Susan’s first kiln and kick wheel and helped design her studio. Now that they’re doing a lot of raku pottery, she’s found that it really does take two to do the firing process.

“He now understands the intricacies of what goes into the making and glazing of each piece,” she said. “I create all the wheel-thrown pieces, but he adds his own touches with carving on the front and by helping me with the glazing before we do the firing process together.”

The couple shares a love of gardening and landscaping and Jim, who grows bonsai trees, is now carving bonsai drawings onto their lidded vessels, which often have an Asian flair to them. The Japanese tradition of placing a written wish inside a lidded vessel inspired their Memory Keeper designs.

“I think vessels have a certain spiritual feeling to them,” Susan said. “People are attracted to the raku because they are fired in this ancient method that moves people, and they can place a message inside it that commemorates an event, a goal or a commitment.”

For the past year, The Kirchmers have been focused on creating raku, but Susan also creates functional works such as teapots, garden lamps and birdhouses.

Learn more about their ceramics at kirchmerstudio.com.

Related posts:

  1. ‘A Christmas Carol’ at Rep ushers in the holiday spirit
  2. Congratulations to the Jack-O-Lantern contest winner
  3. Area retailers weigh in on holiday season
  4. An old-fashioned Holiday Wonderland
  5. Arrive two hours early for holiday flights

Short URL: http://www.delmartimes.net/?p=6962

Posted by tgsage on Dec 18, 2008. Filed under Archives. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Leave a Reply

Archives

Facebook

Bottom Buttons 1

Bottom Buttons 2

Bottom Buttons 3

Bottom Buttons 4

Bottom Buttons 5

Bottom Buttons 6

LA JOLLA NEWS

RSS LA JOLLA NEWS

  • La Jolla Library welcomes new chief Shaun Briley
    For La Jolla Riford Library’s new head librarian, Shaun Briley, books have been a part of his life and career, in some form or another, every step of the way. […]
  • Tangerine trees, marmalade skies for Beatles-inspired Patrons of the Prado gala in Balboa Park, San Diego
    “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” was the theme of the Patrons of the Prado gala on July 12, 2014 in Balboa Park, San Diego. Beatles-inspired music came from Wayne Foster Entertainment. Sandy Redman and Jeanne Jones served as event chairs. 2014’s beneficiaries are the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, San Diego Museum of Art and The Old Globe Theatre. […]
  • La Jolla’s Best Bets for events July 31- Aug. 7
    Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA) offers a crash course in starting a photography collection 6 p.m. Thursday Aug. 7. at the Ligne Roset Showroom, 7726 Girard Ave. MOPA assistant curator Chantel Paul and director of jdc Fine Art Jennifer DeCarlo will share professional insights. […]

RANCHO SANTA FE NEWS

RANCHO SANTA FE NEWS

RSS RANCHO SANTA FE NEWS

  • Rancho Santa Fe resident’s Gen 7 wines earn top honors
    Rancho Santa Fe resident Tim Bacino’s Gen 7 Wines is on a hot streak, his varietals winning several awards this summer in California wine competitions. […]
  • Torrey Pines High School baseball alum Taylor Murphy excelling in pro ball
    It was during a breakout senior year at Torrey Pines High that Taylor Murphy first popped up on the radar of professional scouts. Shortly after graduation, Murphy was selected by the San Diego Padres in the 40th round of the June 2011 amateur draft. He declined, honoring a commitment to the University of the Pacific. Three years later, Murphy got another sho […]
  • Why Hire a Licensed Landscape Professional?
    By Steve Jacobs, Nature Designs The old saying – “if something seems to good to be true, it probable is” – is quite fitting when it comes to hiring a contractor for your home or yard construction project. While it is smart to shop around, get quotes, etc., don’t fall into the trap of trusting […]