I was born and raised in Reading, Pennsylvania and began creating micaceous pottery in December 1999. I apprenticed under Felipe Ortega, who is world renown for his micaceous cookware. The clay I use is hand dug from his ancestral clay pits in the mountains of Northern New Mexico.My art is created in the ancient method of the Jicarilla Apache Nation. The pottery is constructed in the centuries-old practice of “coil and scrape”, the traditional method used by American Indians of the Southwest. The walls are built by adding successive rope-like coils of clay, then thinned and shaped using scraping tools. Once air-dried, the vessel is wet scraped to smooth the surface and sanded with a piece of sandstone.
Several coats of slip (a rich liquid form of clay) are applied to the surface and burnished with a polishing stone. The pottery is then fired in an open pit using pine and cedar. This creates the individual and unique color markings known as “fire clouds”. Dark and black finishes are produced by placing the red-hot pottery into a container with organic matter.
My style and design of pottery is quite varied and is created to be utilitarian. My first pieces, which were traditional bean pots, are used for cooking. As I began to produce larger pieces, I envisioned them as table lamps. Working with my teacher, Felipe, we designed a process to fit a wafer of oak branch into the tops of vessels in order to secure the lamp hardware. Working with the earth and light gave me the inspiration to cut out the clay and insert an agate to produce a night-light. In addition to cookware and lamps, I have created several ceremonial pieces.
Kele is my artistic name and translates to Greg in the Hawaiian language. I work in a home studio and fire my pieces in the mountains of Northern New Mexico.
Contact Me by email at email@example.com for more information on my work and to check availability and pricing of pieces.
For more information on Micaceous clay visit Felipe Ortega’s website www.felipeortega.com