The Femme Stories is a blog series celebrating the makers who inspire and empower their community, and continue to gift us with their creativity; these are their stories.

Keri | Fire and Flux Studios

I first came across Fire and Flux last Fall at the Handmade Niagara Market. I was looking to update some home décor items and found her gorgeous pottery. I settled on a white and cream poppy seed utensil holder and when it arrived I was blown away with how gorgeous it was. Like all handmade items I could see the love and attention put into this item and it brings me joy every time I am in my kitchen. I was excited to talk with Keri and learn more about her brand and how it came to be. 
keri, maker and owner of fire and flux Studios
You started in the corporate world, what did that look like?

 I worked with the Hyatt Corporation in accounting and finance at a couple different hotels down in the US, I then travelled to Japan to teach English. When I came back I started working as a Recruiter for a headhunting company in Canada and then I moved into working at KPMG, which provides Audit, Tax and Advisory services.

Are there skills from that life that you brought to Fire and Flux?

For sure, the financial aspect helps with running my own company. I have always dabbled in some form of art though, whether it was décor or painting, I have always loved art. When I starting my career, I was encouraged to go the corporate route to have more stability, so I did that. Once I had my kids that is when I dove into my company, as they started daycare, just 2 days a week I would work on my art, and as they went into school I got more time to develop Fire and Flux.

Why the name Fire and Flux?

When I was trying to think of a name, I reached out to a neighbour friend who runs a marketing company, and I threw him a bunch of words that were associated with pottery. Fire being the kiln and Flux being the material you use to help the glaze adhere to the pottery and that is how it came fire & flux Studios. 

On your site I read you started taking night classes to learn pottery, was it a creative outlet to start or did you know you wanted to make it your new career? 

When my second child was 6 months, I needed something that was my own and that got me out of the house, which is when I started taking a night class at the Mississauga Centre for the Arts. I started there one night a week, then two nights a week and then eventually I joined the Mississauga Potters Guild which allowed me to go in and out of the studio at any time, and it was all about practicing. I was really drawn to the clay and I knew I needed more practice, honestly, I am still mastering it, I still have flops. In the end it came about organically, I got hooked and then I thought maybe I could do this!

 What is the process of creating one of your pieces?

I buy boxed clay locally, stoneware and porcelain clay bodies. I start by wedging the clay, weighing amount and forming into balls to start the throwing process.  Some pieces are wheel thrown and others are handmade; they need to dry out for a day or so before trimming happens and then left to dry to a “bone dry” state. Next would be a bisque firing in the kiln, this process almost petrifies the clay, it is still water absorbent which allows you to glaze to adhere to it.  They are then washed, sanded and glazed and fired a second time.  This process can take 2-4 weeks as I fill the kiln before firing so many small batches of work make up a kiln load.

 Do you have your own studio or work out of a shared space? 

In 2012 I had been doing pottery for 3 ½ years, and I wanted to start to sell my designs so, we converted one of our storage rooms in our house into my studio. The kiln is located a converted cold storage room and vented outside.

 Do you design a pattern or have a general idea or do you just create as you go?

 I don’t use molds, you can and some potters do, but I form each one by hand, so each one is unique. There is a lot to take in to account when working with clay. It shrinks because of the firings, so a 7” tumbler will actually end up 5.5”, it shrinks about 10%. Through testing you figure out how much you need to start with to help create you end product.

The Fire and Flux aesthetic is natural and contemporary is that reflected of your aesthetic? 

I started the Agate Collection, which is the black and white line, back in 2012, I loved the simplicity and uniqueness of each one. Then I moved into the Grijs line, to use up all my trimmings and waste from my Agate line - so I was reclaiming clay instead of tossing it.  I do like simple forms, when you have a big bowl for example, yes you want it to look beautiful, but it is really what is in the bowl that should shine and be beautiful, so I try and keep fire & flux aesthetic natural looking.

My own home is very bohemian, totally opposite of what I produce, but that is what I want to strive for is the contemporary, modern feel.

When I received my order from you I was SO happy to see that the packing peanuts were eco-friendly, what other measures do you take to make Fire and Flux good for the environment.

 Being eco-friendly is a huge part of my company and in daily life as well. I have moved away from plastic wrap and bags and when I ship it is often in recycled box. It is hard when you make pieces for selling, we are contributing to consumerism, but I want to be as conscious about this as possible. I am not a brand where I want you to buy 50 of my pieces, so I want to be as conscious about my “waste” as possible.

Do you have any new products you are working on?

I have been working with imprinting lace doilies on my pieces. I am still perfecting the process and figuring out what glaze will look best. I am also working towards more neutrals so that will be in the shop more and more.

 What are you currently reading?

I am reading Ken Follett, Fall of the Giants it is a trilogy starting in the 1920’s, I also have recently read The Wine Makers Wife which is a great read.  

Talking with Keri was so lovely, her pieces are incredible and you can tell so much thought goes into each piece. Fire and Flux offers tumblers, bowls, plates and platters, utensil holders and all come in a gorgeous array of neutrals. I was thrilled with my purchase back in the Fall and it was made more special when you could see that the environment was taken into consideration with her packaging as well. Make sure to check out Fire and Flux to see all the gorgeous pieces Keri makes.


Written by Carissa McCaig

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