Tracy Gurdian /Tovari
The visceral impact art can have on individuals is my driving force. It gives me great pleasure to stimulate emotions from viewing my work—whether it is an uncomfortable feeling from viewing an asymmetrical piece, or intrigue from the moody colors, shapes, and textures on my vessels and objects. Provoking emotions equals success.
Tracy created Tovari Designs out of her passion for unique, handmade, one-of-a-kind objects with the mission to bring “curated ceramics” to the commercial industry—objects that are functional and decorative as opposed to being mass produced or molded. She collaborates with Gumps, and has been represented by luxury department stores, i.e., Bergdorf Goodman and Kravet (Tovari for Kravet); as well as JLD, a luxury boutique shop and interior design firm in Naples, FL.
With an inherent style that is contemporary, eclectic, and timeless, Tracy choreographs her love of dance and nature into her pottery resulting in vessels and objects that are free-flowing, asymmetrical, as well as graceful. Texture is essential to her work as evidenced by the use of vintage lace patterns, rips and tears in the clay body, and the incorporation of flowers, shells, and melted glass.
An accomplished dancer and choreographer with a B.A. in Fine Arts from the University of South Florida, her artistry now manifests itself in each hand-built creation. Tracy has been working with clay since 1997, and is passionate about the Japanese firing process of Raku which allows for unique, and often unexpected, results. The Japanese practice of Ikebana inspires her as well.
As an avid traveler both domestic and internationally, Tracy draws inspiration from nature or by human hands—rock formations in Oregon, mountain vistas of Switzerland, the beauty of the famed Amalfi Coast, or the countryside of Spain, France and Portugal, as well as architectural creations by Frank Gehry and Antoni Gaudí or lovely, delicate lace made by the hands of talented Italians and Belgians.
Tracy designs and creates at her beach home studio in Naples, FL. “Tovari” is a combination of the names of her two beautiful children, Tova and Ari—her BEST “works 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.
Tracy Gurdian hand signs each piece Tovari, the artist’s company name. Tovari is a combination of the artist’s two children, Tova and Ari. The word “Tova” is Hebrew and translates to “everything good and beautiful.” The makers mark stamped on each vessel represent Japanese characters meaning “everything good and beautiful.” The Japanese Kanji character that is used is a spiritual version of the word “good.” It can be loosely translated into the English word “Zen,” yet it has a deeper meaning to imply “to make things better or to constantly improve oneself.” The makers mark was created by a third- generation stamp maker during Tracy’s Kintsugi studies in Japan. Tracy carries on the Japanese tradition of Raku firing, and is inspired by Asian arts and craft such as Ikebana.
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.
Do you have a question about my products or my process? Send me a message, and I'll get back to you soon!