The process of making hand-formed stoneware takes weeks to complete. Each piece is thrown on the wheel, and then allowed to dry to a leather-hard consistency. The pot is then trimmed and decorated, if desired, through various means, including carving, under-glazing, applying slip or adding unique features in the form of handles, feet or design enhancement. Before greenware (unfired ware) can be bisque-fired, it must be "bone dry." This process takes several days and involves covering and uncovering the pots at various times to ensure that the moisture escapes slowly, especially if clay enhancements have been added. A bisque firing to cone 05 usually takes approximately thirty-six hours to complete twelve hours in the kiln heating and twenty-four hours to cool before opening. Once bisqued, the stoneware is glazed, dried, and refired to cone 5 or 6, reaching temperatures above 2100ºF.
Each vessel is a unique and one-of-a-kind piece of art. Natural variations in the glazes should be expected and add to the distinctiveness of each piece. Stoneware may be used in the microwave, dishwasher, and oven; however, it should never be shocked by extreme changes in temperature. Do not place refrigerated stoneware immediately into the oven. Do not place stoneware into a preheated oven, but let it heat up gradually as the oven warms. Teapots should be filled with very hot tap water before adding simmering water.
My name is Connie Rae. My exploration into clay began in 1999 under the tutelage and care of my mentor
, Jill Pellegrino, who has encouraged and challenged me for over seven years. Educational experience continued through classes taken at numerous clay studios throughout the northeast. Books and magazines specifically addressing clay as a medium are devoured routinely, providing motivation to strive for excellence as an artist.
My "professional" career officially began in 2005 as the recipient of the "Emerging Artist Award" at the Three Rivers Arts Festival in Pittsburgh. I was honored to be one of the "invited" artists for the 2006 festival. Other juried art shows that I have participated in include the People's Choice Arts Festival held annually each July in Boalsburg, PA (near State College) and the Kipona Artfest celebrated during Labor Day weekend each year on the Harrisburg waterfront.
Placing my hands onto a slippery ball of clay and feeling it transform into a very lop-sided pitcher hooked me from the start. My passion for this medium continues to grow exponentially and gives me great joy. I am
inspired by everything that has design, but the primary sources are architecture and nature. My work usually originates on the wheel, but I enjoy the process of carving and using clay additions to alter my pieces, creating distinct and, what I hope are, elegant works of art. My husband supports me whole-heartedly in my pursuit of clay and selflessly built a studio in our basement that has turned into my own little oasis of creativity.