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Helen Rondell, known for her sculptural raku-fired vessels, established her ceramic studio in 2001 and was accepted as a Selected Member of the Craft Potters Association in 2014. In the same year she began teaching ceramics part-time at The Ceramic Studio, Kent.
Rondell's sculptural pieces are all hand-coiled, built over several days, gradually evolving into unique forms which flow around openings, throw shadows and explore negative space. The bottle forms are made using soft slabs, which creates fluidity and gives each piece a life and character if its own. Surfaces are smooth as a result of low firing temparatures, with crazing lines and speckled marks - formed through the raku firing - adding to the tactile qualities of the finished works, which are non-functional art pieces, not designed to hold water.
Rondell was first drawn to raku firing whilst studying ceramics (BA Hons) at North Staffordshire University in 1995. The speed and unpredictability of raku firing has ingited her passion ever since, and is characteristic of all her work, which is exhibited at leading ceramics fairs and galleries across the UK. Naked Raku Firing
After bisque firing, a resist slip is applied before a crackle glaze. The pieces are then fired in a raku kiln and taken out red hot using tongs, before being plunged into a container filled with a mixture of combustible materials such as paper and sawdust. These immediately ignite, and when the container is covered with a lid, smoke smothers the pot. Once it has cooled, the pot is cleaned and the glaze lightly peeled away revealing the black smoke markings created when the smoke penetrates through the glaze.