About Luminarias

Addition & Subtraction

I’m borrowing the Latin/Spanish word for these vessels. Traditionally, a luminaria is a lantern displayed in a paper bag, at Christmas time. The word has come to refer to more substantial vessels for holding candles safely, including ceramic, metal, glass, etc. 


My riff on luminarias starts with a wheel thrown form, which is then carved, and cut to open up holes for candle light to shine through. I initially started with my favorite leaf designs. Some then evolved into the prickly pear cactus designs. And then I started using clay that I colored with Mason stains (a popular powered pigment for adding color to clay, slip and glaze). In clay, it’s always evolution; one thing leads to another. 


In the process of exploring different designs, I knew I wanted to create a rose flower design. But I couldn’t figure how what to draw, and what to carve away. While the idea percolated in the back of my mind, I happened to see an interesting wall sculpture (plaster, I suspect), made of raised ridges, spiraling outward to form an abstract rose. It occurred to me that I could create something similar, by adding coils of clay onto a surface, and shaping them into ridges. After seeing how that looked, it then occurred to me that I could cut away the spaces in between the ridges, thus becoming another type of luminaria. I haven’t found a technical term for this technique, so for now, I call it “Addition & Subtraction.” This style makes a surprisingly sturdy pot. However, the process is very time-intensive.