Tracy’s style is contemporary, unusual, eclectic, and timeless. She has combined her love of dance and nature by choreographing her pottery as she would her dances. Her vessels and objects are free-flowing with movement, texture, asymmetry, and grace. The use of texture with design is Tracy’s signature style. Vintage lace relief, rips, tears, flowers, shells, and melted glass, are just some of the textures and shapes that define her signature style.
Tracy Gurdian received her B.A. in Fine Arts from The University of South Florida where she studied dance and art. An accomplished dancer and choreographer, her artistry now manifests itself in each piece of hand-built one-of-a-kind vessel. Tracy has been creating with clay since 1997. She studied for 10 years before she felt ready to present her work to the public.
Tracy is passionate about continuing the Japanese firing tradition of Raku. The often random outcome of firing Raku creates excitement and sometimes disappointment for her. The effect that nature plays on Raku and the beauty of the process makes every firing unique and exhilarating.
Her love of flowers and shells are evident in her one of a kind flower vessels and decorative objects. Each vessel is created like a flower grows, each one is different and unique. Tracy studied Ikebana, the art of Japanese flower arranging. The flowers she uses inspires many of the shapes of her vessels.
Tracy collects vintage lace from her travels. She highlights her lace from regions that specialize in lace making such as Cantu,
Italy, Bruges,Belgium, Provence,France, and Coastal,Portugal, as well as other various parts of countries she stumbles upon for her hunt for the perfect find. These lace patterns inspire her work and create a beautiful texture and design. She is constantly perfecting her method of imprinting and glazing her lace transfers.
Her recent bodies of work are inspired from ash from fires, the beauty of nature from her travels, as well as textures she sees in nature which influence her relief. Torn paper, rocks from her hiking trip in Oregon, Taos, Belgium, and Switzerland, to vistas from the Amalfi Coast Italy, and the country sides and sea sides in Spain and France all become part of her art. Many of her objects are inspired by the shells she finds on her beach during her daily walks.
“The visceral impact art can have on one is my driving force. It gives me great pleasure to stimulate an emotion from someone viewing my work. Whether it is an uncomfortable feeling from viewing an asymmetrical piece, or intrigue from moody colors, shapes and textures on my vessels and objects, I consider provoking an emotion a success.”
Another influence in Tracy’s designs is her passion and love of architecture. Shapes you might find in Architect Frank Gehry and Antoni Gaudi’s buildings are emulated in her work. Particularly the asymmetry and leaning qualities you might see in Frank Gehry’s buildings and free-form curves common to Gaudi’s style.
Tracy created Tovari Designs out of her passion for unique, hand-made one-of-a-kind objects. She likes to collect objects that no one else has. She wanted to bring this concept to the commercial industry by creating one of kind functional and decorative objects that are not mass produced or molded. She has been represented in Bergdorf Goodman, Gump’s, and creates Tovari for Kravet for their Curated Kravet line. She also collaborates and sells her wares at Judith Liegeois Designs, the incredibly talented designer with a one of kind shop of curiosities.
She designs and creates all her work from her beach home studio in Naples Florida. The name Tovari is a combination of Tracy’s two beautiful children Tova and Ari. She believes they are her best work of art.
“I will always stay true to my organic style and create a sense of movement to each piece... just as a dancer gracefully performs to music.”
Raku is the process of firing pottery using the ancient Japanese method. This method dates back to the 16th century. “Raku” means enjoyment in Japan. The name Raku is also the name given to the family that discovered the firing process we call Raku. The Raku family is now in it’s 15th generation of carrying on the firing tradition. It is deemed to be a zen-like process practiced by the Buddist monks in tea ceremonies. Raku pottery should be hand-made, as the artist and clay should become one. The artist leaving it’s impression on the clay is very important.
It is essential to the process to combine air, water, and earth.
The Firing Process
Firing Raku can be dangerous, yet very exciting. Each piece of pottery fired will be unique and one of a kind. Nature plays a huge role in determining how a piece looks. First, the pottery is bisque fired. The bisque fired piece is then glazed and put in a gas kiln. When the kiln reaches around 1800 degrees, the piece is quickly removed. This is where the Western process differs from the American process.
Traditionally, the piece is pulled from the heat molten hot and oxidizes. The cool air hits the hot pottery and changes the colors of the “ware”. The American process adds a second “post firing reduction”. The pot is quickly removed from the hot kiln and put in a metal chamber that contains combustibles such as newspaper or sawdust. A fire starts and the lid is placed on top of the chamber extinguishing the flames. This is when the reduction process begins. All of the oxygen is starved from the chamber and absorbed in the clay. The piece will stay in the chamber for a few minutes to hours, depending on the artist. The piece is then sprayed with water, stopping the reduction process. Where there is no glaze, the ware turns black.
Certain glazes can create particular colors but the placement of the colors is unknown. Due to the change in elements predicting a color, one never knows how a piece will turn out. It is very common for pieces to break or crack due to the harsh shock absorbed by the clay. This makes each piece special and valuable... “No attachments” is not only part of the zen process, but a good way to relate to the firing process. *Please note: Raku vessels are porous and do not hold water. Please place another water containing vessel inside if used for functional purposes.
Tracy 's mediums are Raku and Earthenware clays. She also experiments with a mix of resin and melted glass on her wares, creating an eclectic and unusual look to her designs. The resin also adds functionality to her Raku work. She uses high quality glazes and hand paints and sculpts all the wares herself. No molds are used in her process creating a one of a kind piece. Tracy's fascination with the beauty of texture and nature is evident in her medium on her wares. She often uses foliage from her garden in her clay, slip to create organic designs, and vintage lace to create 3 dimensional patterns and relief on her wares. Each vessel and object goes thru a process of several firings and glazings and is finely hand crafted by Tracy. She is always perfecting her method.
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