“When art and the things we use every day are combined, both are elevated to a kind of sacred celebration of life. It’s called functional art, and it is a beautiful thing.”
Welcome to Kiyor. I'm Chaya Esther Ort, and here in my Jerusalem studio, I make small-batch, limited edition ceramic art inspired by the incredible beauty and spirit of the Land of Israel, and made of its very earth.
I first laid my hands on clay at Camp Cayuga when 9. I was smitten
I first stepped foot in Israel when I was 15. My Buby Lily sent me on a summer trip because she wanted me to love Israel. She was a smart lady. I was smitten again
During the busy years when I was raising my family in, (first in Toronto, then in Crown Heights followed by Monsey), I tucked my artistic and nationalistic yearnings away a metaphorical drawer, too busy being a wife, mother and graphic designer to even dream of the day when I could make aliyah and devote myself to making art.
Let me tell you something—dreams really do come true...sometimes even twice! In 2008 I made aliyah with my husband, and I started working in clay again after 25 years!
I believe in the power of art to elevate life. When the objects we use in everyday life are infused with the beauty and spirituality of art—when we serve up a meal on an artfully painted platter, drink morning coffee from a hand-painted mug, or light the Sabbath candles in holders made from the actual earth of the Holy Land, these physical things are infused with the spiritual energy of the land that inspired it, and from which it has literally been made.
The synthesis of aesthetics and functionality allows art to be an active part of everyday life— infusing the things we use with beauty, and integrating art into everyday life in a way that elevates both the art, and the things we are using.
I begin by hand-building clay bodies in intentionally organic lines, and irregular shapes, reflecting my belief that there is beauty in imperfection. After slowly drying over a period of days, pieces are bisque fired in the kiln at 1000° C for 14 hours. Surface decoration is either hand-painted in a watercolor effect, or abstract glazed in the rich and varied palette of Israel's land, mountains, fields and sea. The materials I use include underglazes, glazes, stains, and oxides such as zinc, iron oxide or cobalt. After painting and glazing pieces are then glaze fired 1187°C. As I final touch I hand paint and sprinkle 22 karat gold accents as a symbol of the singular preciousness of the Holy Land.
For me, making functional art in Israel, and of Israel is an amazing blessing that I am so grateful for every single day. I thank God for the opportunity to deliver the extraordinary beauty and spirit of Israel everywhere, and to pay homage to the Creator of Heaven and Earth who created this magnificent world, and Who created us all in His image.
When you purchase something from Kiyor, no matter where you live, Israel will always be with you. And when you use it as part of daily life, you are literally bringing Israel into your life.