From Vortexes to Ceramic Vases

During my travels to Sedona, Arizona I was fortunate enough to stay in the beautiful Boynton Canyon and experience the wondrous spectacle of the Sedona red rocks and their illusive vortexes.  These phenomenon are said to be special spots on the landscape where the earth energy is more intense.  The intense vortex energy is said to amplify everything, including your own energy, synchronicities may happen more frequently, psychic abilities may be heightened or opened and people are naturally drawn to these places for healing and transformation.  These vortexes are categorised as either ‘feminine’ energy (energy entering the earth) or ‘masculine’ energy (energy coming out of the earth).  Cathedral Rock in Sedona and the Chapel of the Holy Cross have been identified as feminine and Airpot Mesa and Bell Rock as masculine. Boynton Canyon combines both.

So, I was very lucky to be staying in a place where both these energies co-existed.  It certainly was a place like no other – so much so I am going back in March 2018 to explore further.  One of the things that inspired my creativity was the way the vortexes influenced the landscape – I was curious how the energies often encourage plants and trees to grow in a spiral, (as seen in the picture above) and how rock formations had a much more ‘fluid’ layering in their structure, almost like the patterns you see in swirling pools of water.  Interestingly, although the red rock formations are formed by erosion, there are no actual mountains to be found.  The majestic red rocks are either buttes, mesas, pinnacles or hoodoos.  In her history, Sedona has been an inland sea and many people apparently dream of dolphins while they are staying because the sea energy remains…so maybe I was picking up something here!

Scientists have started to test the vortexes using portable EEG machines and they have found high levels of iron oxide combined with substantial amounts of quartz deposits may be playing a part in the measurable outflows and inflows of magnetic energy.  They also hypothesise that there is a connection between human brainwaves and the vortex energy – after tests using an EEG device where matched with real-time data from measurements of environmental magnetic energies using a magnetometer.  The theory would suggest that since humans and mammals have magnetically-sensitive magnetite in their bodies, it makes sense that the energy form the vortex could affect some people if they are in-tune with their body energy system or aura.

The Native American’s have long recognised Sedona as a spiritual and sacred landscape. It is a place of pilgrimage and transformation for seekers from around the world.  They believe that spiritual transformation can occur more quickly and easily in Sedona because the veils to other dimensions are thinner.  So who knows what will happen if you decide to own one of my vortex vases!

Taking this wonderful inspiration from the Sedona landscape and it’s mystical vortexes, I decided to combine the use of clay (which of course is formed from rocks just like the ones in Sedona) and then use my Potter’s Wheel to mimic the spiralling energy of the vortexes themselves.  My wheel turns in an anticlockwise direction, but once I have formed the bases from my vases I also work in a clockwise direction adding further form, texture and spirally patterns to capture the feminine and masculine energetic properties.  I then continue to work on the wheel turning it which ever way feels more appropriate to the piece, adding layers of black clay, porcelain, buff clay and oxides such as iron, copper and manganese to create rich layers depicting the Sedona landscape.  I use tools to mark the surface of the vase to denote the swirling vortex energy, often scratching into the surface (sgraffito technique) with these wooden and metal tools.  The patterns on the vortex vases have not only been inspired by the movement of energy but the texture of trees in Sedona.  Many trees grow in a spiral shape and the wood and bark have the most wonderful flowing patterns so it was important to incorporate this too.

The final funnel neck of each vase is unique depending on how the body has organically developed along the process.  I make sure I honour the natural formation, without holding to a particular image in my mind. Each piece is made through connection with the intention of the vortex energy and ‘feeling’ the way the clay wants to form.  Some pieces are made from a series of hand-built, texturised sections almost like turbine blades which are then carefully moulded together, smoothed with slip and hand formed at the edges giving me the perfect rim to add Platinum lustre at the final firing.  Other funnel necks are formed by massaging the clay from the body upwards using slip and water.  These produce delicate and beautiful petal like openings depicting a calmer more feminine vortex energy.  Working in this way has been revolutionary for me.  I have always loved the organic nature of clay as even back to my degree days I was influenced by landscape potters such as Ewen Henderson.  This new collection has enable me to re-connect with this authentic way of working – honouring the source of clay from landscape and earth and mirroring the way natural formations occur in the making processes I choose to use.

In order to pay homage to the Native Americans and this amazing sacred landscape in Sedona I have named each piece after a specific vortex or area of transformation.  So each piece takes on the intention of the vortex after which it is named.  My making process with clay also enables me to impregnate the vases with Reiki energy (seeing that I am a qualified Reiki practitioner).  My hope and intention for you as a customer of my ceramic art, is that you and your home benefit from the combination of these wonderful transformational energies, for years to come.


See the unveiling of Sonya’s new Vortex Vases Collection, at the Artisan Show, RWA Gallery, Bristol BS8 1PX between 11am and 6pm on the weekend of 9-10 December 2017

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