Chavez, Gayle

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Born and raised in Southern California, I relocated to the Big Island of Hawaii in 1988. In 1989 a business partner and I co-created a pottery manufacturing company called Rift Zone Ceramics. Glazing and decorating low-fire Raku ware sparked my initial interest in primitive styles of firing. I loved the endless possibilities for color and effect that Raku techniques provided.

In 1992 I started Ho’onani Clay Art as a means for further exploring more low temperature firing techniques. Most of my present work is fired in a primitive style lava rock kiln. I bury the clay pieces in and among a variety of combustible organic materials such as seaweed, wood shavings, pine needles and horse puckey. I light the pit and keep it flaming for about half an hour, then cover it. Shutting out the oxygen in the pit provides the “reduction” atmosphere necessary to achieve the smoky, unusual finishes. Results vary widely and no two pieces are ever alike.

I also fire in an electric kiln using coloring stains and oxides. My designs reflect my interest in traditional symbols of indigenous native cultures. Learning about and using these symbols as decoration in my work has given me a great appreciation of the creativity and spiritualism of Hawaiian and Polynesian cultures. It’s exciting to then share this with others; to bring the power of ancient symbols into the present day.

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