Susan was born in the early 50s to an engineer father and an artist mother. She spent her childhood listening to her mother hammering hand-tooled leather and watching her paint, weld, and make jewelry and stained glass windows. Susan’s mother, Maurine Roy, continues to work in the world of art and is now an internationally renowned quilter.
Driven by a creative spirit much like her mother’s, Susan began with clay while she was in college and, from there, moved on to fiber arts. After many years in the Southwest creating handwoven clothing out of hand dyed silks, she moved back to the Pacific Northwest, where she completed an advanced degree in Educational Psychology while keeping her hand in the arts. She was reintroduced to clay during a visit with a friend in Taos, New Mexico, in the early 90s and has been hooked ever since.
Susan has been living on Whidbey Island, northwest of Seattle, for the past two decades working as a school psychologist and creating with clay on the side. She prefers hand building, works primarily with slabs of clay, and is currently entranced by the naked raku process.
I have always dabbled in the arts. I spent many of my adult years in the Southwest where I designed and created handwoven silk clothing for women. I enjoyed the process of creating beautiful garments out of raw materials.
I went from creating with silk thread to clay, which is my current medium of choice. I am primarily self-taught and work with slabs, coils, and occasionally molds, to create my forms. At the moment, I’m intrigued with the naked raku process. It consistently results in black and white patterns, determined by smoke, on the “naked” surface of the clay. David Roberts, a preeminent naked raku artist, dubbed the process “painting with smoke” and the result can be just as elusive.
The process begins with bisque-fired forms made of a type of clay that can withstand the shock of being taken quickly from a 1500 degree kiln and placed in a container of combustibles. The bisque-fired clay forms are then coated with a thin layer of slip, or liquid clay. A thin layer of glaze is then painted or splattered over the slip and the piece is heated quickly to 1300 degrees Fahrenheit in a specially designed kiln that can withstand quickly rising temperatures. The slip acts as a resist for the glaze.
The black and white designs are a result of the pattern created by the placement of the glaze on the pot and the pattern of cracks that occur during cooling. The cracks created by the rapid cooling turn black as the smoke from the combustion chamber permeates them. The finished pieces don’t have a traditional glazed surface; instead, the “naked” surface of the clay carries the pattern. The result is somewhat uncertain with no two pieces the same which makes the process appealingly mysterious and unpredictable.