Local ceramic artist Stormie Parker works at her potters wheel in her studio located at her Williams home. Parker, of Windstorm Pottery, will be the featured artist Friday at Aspen Art Gallery in Flagstaff
Parker lived in Europe for seven years where she created and developed all aspects of several ceramic pottery and sculpture programs. The programs included sculpture, hand building and throwing on a potters wheel. Parker taught both children and adults.
Upon Parker’s return to the United States in 1996, she decided to build a raku kiln. Raku is an ancient Japanese method of firing pottery that produces brilliant colors and unique crackle surfaces. Raku pottery is created by placing the pieces in an outdoor kiln until they are red-hot. When the pieces reach the melting temperature, they are removed from the kiln with tongs and placed into a container filled with newspaper.
When the paper ignites, the lid is placed quickly on the container, producing a reductions environment. The pottery is left to cool. When removed, each piece is unique. Raku pottery is more of an art form and is not meant for use as tableware. It should not be used to hold food and will not hold water, Parker said.
Parker also creates functional ware including bowls, coffee mugs, vases, door plaques, tile, canisters, pots and tableware.
“It is highly important that no matter what product you choose, that it becomes part of your everyday life whether it is used as functional ware or as a decorative accent to your home, such as a vase,” Parker said.
Some of Parker’s latest work includes raku pieces with a semi-precious stone inlay. Parker collaborates with her brother, artist Dalon Rade, to create the stunning pieces. Parker creates the ceramic pieces first. The vessels are hand thrown on a potters wheel, while tile work is made by hand forming and utilizing a slab roller. The design that will later be inlayed is cut into the clay at the leather hard stage.
Once the ceramic process is complete, Rade selects a type of stone that will work well with the piece using a variety of semi-precious stones. He cuts each individual piece to fit exactly into the previously carved area. Rade then polishes and buffs the stone before permanently attaching it to the ceramic piece. Most of the pieces depict wildlife, Parker said.
Parker’s business — Windstorm Studio — is based out of her home. Her husband, Wendell, maintains Windstorm’s accounting, paperwork and marketing. Her two children, Tawny and Raven, assist her in shipping her artwork and setting up for art shows.
“It’s a family business. Everyone promotes Mom,” said Parker.
Although Parker is a success in her own right, she continues to take classes at NAU to hone her skills while developing new techniques and expanding her work. Parker has volunteered at the Williams Schools previously and worked under a grant, Teaching Through the Arts. At the local level, youth in science, history and cultural classes have learned about ceramics from Parker’s hands-on demonstrations.
Parker also teaches beginning and intermediate ceramics classes. Her curriculum includes throwing, hand building and raku. She is available to teach groups including scout troops, home school students and any group interested in learning more about creating pottery. She has a potters wheel that is portable, enabling her to teach at the groups’ location.
Parker’s work can be found locally at the Wayward Expresso Café, the Grand Canyon Café — where she is expanding her line of products — and The Christmas Tree Gallery, where Parker’s pine motif items grace the shelves. Parker’s work is shown throughout Arizona and as far away as Texas and Santa Fe, N.M.
Parker is also a familiar face at local craft fairs. She hosts two open studios each year at Windstorm Studio. During the open studios, Parker provides raku-firing demonstrations and offers her creations at discounted prices. Her next open studio is planned for May. Parker also accepts custom orders.
For more information about Windstorm Studio or Friday’s showing at Aspen Art Gallery, contact Parker at 635-4736.