I am so honored to have my dear Aunt Lynne share her story with us today of the birth of her beautiful Raku business, Shekinah Clay. Lynne has been an irreplaceable and important part of me and my family’s lives since literally before my own birth. I am so grateful that my little girl will grow up being able to look up to her, strong women arise having learned from strong women. I want my little girl to have the confidence to pursue her dreams and bring them into reality as Lynne has done. It takes much strength and determination to accomplish and make what we love a reality in our lives. Pursuing that which we love in an effort to bring to pass our hearts desires can be scary, take a TON of work, and don’t always have an immediate payoff. Watching Lynne bring her love to pass, share her heart in her work and truly bless countless lives with her beautiful pieces is such an inspiration and privilege. Please check out her shop, www.etsy.com/Shop/Raku4u (click link).
The Story of Shekinah Clay
By Lynne Anderson
I had just returned to school (and..rather late in life…like in my mid-forties!) to get my Master’s Degree in Art Education. Throughout the years of raising my family and teaching Art K-12 in a rural District, I’d always promised myself that when the children had ‘flown the nest’ I would return to my Alma Matter (University of Northern Colorado) for my advanced degree…and this happened for me in 1994.
Similar to undergraduate programs, the Master’s Degree required some electives and in my first semester, I signed up for an elective course in Ceramics….and that’s when it happened to me. Sitting on a potter’s wheel, with hands muddied up with clay and slip, quite simply…. I fell in LOVE: in love with clay, in love with the malleability of it, in love with the ‘add to it’ or ‘subtract from it’ freedom of sculpting with it, in love with working on the potter’s wheel and slipping into a ‘zen’ state where all else fades away except for hands & clay working together, in love with the process of a clay item being fired into a usable item and in love with the serendipity of the glaze firing process ….that feeling of it ‘being like Christmas when opening the kiln afterwards’ to reveal the unique coloration.
As a result of this new LOVE, I immediately declared Ceramics as a second and equally important part of my Master’s Degree….and I am still as passionate about and involved with it today as I was on day 1 of discovering it!
One of the firing processes I learned about ‘back then’ was Raku, and this became my firing process of focus. Raku was learned from the Japanese and has roots in the Japanese Tea Ceremony which pays high honor to its participants. The teabowls, which are hand made of clay, are pulled direct from the firing while they are red hot – a vastly different approach than the more widely used firing process where the kiln cools very slowly so as not to stress the ware inside. Japenese Raku is very organic in nature and more closely resembles some of the more ancient ware seen in our country.
Artists here in the west became interested in Raku in the 1950’s and began experimenting by using glazes with metallic colorants. Over time, Raku in the West yielded stunningly beautiful one of a kind raku pieces captivating many…..myself being one. I’ve always loved iridescence and metallic finishes, and raku certainly captures that.
There came a day in the late 90’s when I knew it was time to open a business for the many Raku items that were piling up in my studio. Opening a checking account was a first step – I arrived at the bank parking lot, but in my excitement, I realized that I needed to give the business a NAME and this was the first time it occurred to me! I was a complete newbie at opening/starting a business….hey, I’d always been a teacher in Public Ed!
So, in my car…..in the parking lot at the bank, I prayed….asked God what I should name it to bring glory back to Him? And the answer was immediate and undeniable. SHEKINAH CLAY. And I loved it!….knowing from Biblical studies about the Shekinah Glory….that incredible luminous spiritual light. Loved the name…..but couldn’t remember for sure how it was spelled, so immediately returned home to my Concordance…then back to the bank lol!
For many years, my husband and I participated in roughly 2 juried Fine Art Shows per month in a multi state region and I cannot begin to tell you how many times the question was asked of me ‘What kind of clay is Shekinah Clay?’….then would begin a conversation of a more spiritual nature.
To say that I am thankful….that I am grateful….cannot even begin to express the depth and the meaning… working in the medium of clay has brought to me. In essence, I feel it is one of the reasons I am HERE….that I EXIST…it is a means of expressing a gift given me from above….. for the enrichment not only of myself, but others as well. My heart felt mission statement for each item I create is “ Just as words can minister grace to the hearer, may this art work minister grace to all who view it and to the place in which it resides.”
Lynne Anderson, Raku Artist