“My experience of raku is one of experimentation, unpredictability and learning to not get attached to the outcome. The name ‘hellfire’ comes from looking into the roaring, red, yellow and sometimes white-hot interior of the kiln chamber during a firing” — Bonnie Henning, Hellfire Raku

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Bonnie Henning, Clay & Metal Artist based in Bellingham, WA


Bonnie’s first table now sits proudly in the atrium of the Cascade Valley Hospital in Arlington, WA. She also has a commissioned stained glass window in the chapel of the hospital.


Speaking With The Artist

Interview by Jenny Bell, Tour In Tune and Psychedelic Teapot

Bonnie Henning is a Bellingham based artist who loves raku.

The first time I pulled a pot out of the ashes and hosed it off I knew I was hooked!

Asked how she would describe herself as an artist, she exclaims:

“I’m all over the map. Like my personality, I’m unpredictable, quickly changing direction and not afraid to break the rules.”

Having studied at Minneapolis College of Art and Design and University of Minnesota with a BFA in drawing and painting, Bonnie has a strong foundation in many art forms. She continues to evolve as an artist by regularly taking workshops and short courses in a variety of mediums. This keeps her ideas fresh and her possibilities endless.

Since her fiery introduction to raku and raku tiling in 2008, her projects have taken a new direction. Bonnie now composes beautiful raku tiled table tops with steel based frames.

“Each tile is its own composition. I like to create images that are ambiguous and evocative. I have always been drawn to the thrill of mystery, darkness and danger. Some of my pieces portray creatures and scenes that explore beauty darkness and evil. I hope to present this intriguing juxtaposition for the viewer.”

But creating beautiful table tops was not enough for Bonnie. Her daredevil instinct and hands on approach has led her into welding the steel frames herself! After taking a welding class at the Bellingham technical college in Bellingham, WA she say is now hooked on welding as well!

“Metal art will be another journey into the heat and fire. I can visualize new sculptures on the horizon incorporating fused glass and raku.”


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Hellfire Raku-20140201-016


Dancing With Raku

By Bonnie Henning

The smoke billows out of the trash can blinding me. It stings my eyes as I lift the cover off the kiln to take the pieces out. I set them on the ground and hose them off with cool water. Anticipation fills the air.

I embrace the way one has to dance with raku carefully. In my experience, it is good to have a beginner’s mind set when approaching it. There is a need for caution in the transfer of the glowing red-hot pieces from a 1850 degree kiln and into a barrel of combustibles. This requires focus and a crazy fearlessness.

Raku is not for control freaks. The outcome of every piece is unpredictable as it is individual. The iridescence combined with the sooty blackness of the charring that occurs in the burning barrel is an exciting experience. You will often be rewarded with its unique beauty. It’s easy to get “hooked”. I certainly did.