Sixteenth century art and an unusual form of pottery are just some of the hidden treasures to be discovered at Paper Reeds on Main Street in Somers.
Storeowner Diane Stroller is proud to offer American-made pottery pieces created by using the ancient Japanese technique called Raku, a complex process that uses fire and smoke, and a special kiln, to create unique designs on the finished products.
"It is all fringed upon the unique method in which the pottery is actually fired," Stoller said. "Each piece is brought up to 1,800 degrees, thrown into a can and set on fire before a wet towel is thrown over the top."
For those who practice the technique, it is more than just molding clay and firing up the kiln. There is a spiritual element to the process, a deep belief in the philosophy of the Zen Buddhist monks of 16th century Japan who first used the method.
Raku artist Joyce E. Furney has been perfecting her art since 1991, and is currently showing her creations in 250 galleries throughout the United States.
"One intent of my work is to capture the flow of the universe," Furney said. "In my work, I strive to harmonize the divergent elements of self and materials… to converge at that mystical point where all is at rest and all is in motion. I create to experience that joy and my goal is to share it with others."
"My work is about treading that fine line between art and craft, between old and new," adds fellow Raku artist Andrew Berends. "I respect ceramics as a historical entity, yet, at the same time, I want to push it into the future."
Artist John Clayton creates most of his Raku pieces on his pottery wheel, while other items are hand crafted.
"I use an outdoor gas fired kiln to 1,850 degrees. When the pieces reach that temperature, they are removed with long handled tongs and placed in a bed of wood shavings and newspaper where the pieces burst into flames and are quickly covered and left to cool," Clayton said. "When uncovered, no two pieces will have a finish that appears the same in color. Seeing the finished pieces is the joy of the entire process."
“We are proud to be one of the few stores who only stock American made products," Stoller, owner of Paper Reeds, said. “I think local art is important and combines science and history to help form a well-rounded culture. We are thrilled that we have been able to find American made products from such distinguished artists.”