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Guest Artist: Peter Wolf

We are thrilled to introduce Peter Wolf – a raku specialist – who will be sharing his talents as HCA’s guest artist.

I’ve had a fascination and love affair with movement, balance, and form for as long as I can remember.  This informs my approach to making art.  Ceramics education began in my early 20’s, along with drawing, while acquiring Undergraduate and Master degrees in Counseling and Psychology.

My love of form expanded into designing and manufacturing fine jewelry.  Initially I traveled between California and Indonesia, working with artists in villages, and importing finished pieces back to the U.S.  Eventually I became a Gemologist, and an educator in the field, through the Gemological Testing Laboratory and Association of Great Britain. I have designed and manufactured custom fine jewelry for individuals, by appointment or referral, for 35 years.

I returned to ceramics in my 50’s, after suddenly acquiring close-proximity vision impairment and proprioceptive/balance disabilities. I used the creative practice of ceramics as part of my healing journey, to re-learn a relationship between my body and space.  Now each of my pieces is generated with all of my senses, mindful of the goal of transformation.  Every piece contains a prayer for well-being, in a meditation to reach through the clay, from my heart beyond sight, to create something functional and beautiful.  May this blessing reach you, through its use.

I have studied Martial Arts through life, from a young age.  It eventually led me to train in the Bujinkan, which includes lineages of the Samurai arts.  Aesthetically, the way the Japanese balance even the smallest spaces with movement and function, nature, and beauty, engaging the elements, in counterpoint, is very much in alignment with my personal aesthetic and disciplines. 

Recognizing adventure in the ordinary and unseen comes naturally.  I get deep satisfaction from seeking and honing the edge.   Most of adult life has been devoted to long-term training and exploring, and leading trainings in the physical, perceptual, and intuitive skills of the indigenous tracker-scout.  I was initiated in two healing paths (in North, and South America).

My work is represented in galleries, including the Ren Brown Collection. When not making ceramics or designing custom jewelry, I practice as a strategic advisor and coach for executives, business owners, and, for people who want to enhance, dis-cover or restore magic in the quality of their work and life.  I love facilitating clients to expand their insight, as they master new skills of observation, awareness, and communication.  This work dovetails perfectly with my work as an artist.

About Raku

The origin of Raku ware dates back to approximately 1520 in Japan, where it was first made for Tea Ceremony.  It is considered one of the highest of ceramics in Japan. Raku tradition continues, through the current 15th generation Master in the Raku family.  Raku (one meaning, “Pleasure”) was the name given to the family by the Emperor, with a gold seal.  Much is written on Raku tradition.  But what immediately, physically, differentiated Raku from all other making of pottery, is that a piece was fired in a kiln – then pulled out – orange hot with tongs – and set onto the ground to quickly cool in open air.

Bernard Leach was trained in raku and tea ceremony in Japan and brought it to the West (Great Britain).  Paul Soldner is then noted for bringing raku to America in the ‘60’s.  His departure from ceremonial use and the beginning of glazes plus post-firing combustion/decorative reduction began when, on a whim after pulling a hot piece from the kiln, he rolled it onto dead leaves beneath a pepper tree.  The combustion patterns ignited his imagination. Although initially fired like Raku, this has, (as not intended to be a traditional use exclusively for Tea Ceremony), developed into what we now refer to as “American raku.”  (Undercase “raku” is to differentiate and respect the tradition and Raku family in Japan).

In Japan, ochre and lead glazing have been used through the generations.  Peter does not use lead glazing. American raku is categorically considered decorative only, due to its low-fired clay’s water absorption, and/or use of toxic glaze pigments. Peter however uses only food-safe clays and/or neutral silica glass glazing on inner surfaces, or none at all.   Unlike American raku as we know it, whether glazed fully, partially, or not at all – selected items of Peter’s raku cups, presentation plates and vases – are produced as a surface water resistant piece – which resists *cold* liquids during use. Rinsing or washing, with a soft brush or sponge and dish detergent are OK.  Towel or air-dry. 

Blackened raku body colors and dark lines or patterns come from smoke, from the leaves of oaks over our kiln, needles of the pine above us, grasses, etc.  Unglazed surfaces that are not smoked black have been more traditionally open-air cooled.  All raku by nature is fragile.  Use care and enjoy long life!