A Custom Brazier for The Episcopal Church of the Resurrection

Wave brazier

The brazier above is a great example of how a commissioned piece can turn out. This photo is not the piece I did for the client, but a second one I did in the same style. I’ve thought about doing a wave motif on the firebowls or braziers, so I was pleased when I got a request for one.

The design was commissioned by Rev. J. Brian Ponder, chaplain and assistant rector, The Episcopal Canterbury Fellowship at Mississippi State University. He wrote to ask if I could customize the design of my Blaze O Glory Brazier for use in the Fellowship’s Easter Vigil this year at the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection. Rev. Ponder was kind enough to allow me to quote a few of his emails as an example of the collaboration between artist and client. In his initial inquiry, he said:

John: I was wondering what turn-around time and cost might be on a Blaze O Glory Brazier that incorporated not only flames but also (crashing/rolling) waves of water. We’re considering some kind of brazier or container to kindle a paschal fire for the Easter Vigil at our church.

I gave him a call to bounce some ideas back and forth about the design and what he had in mind. Over the phone, we decided that rather than trying to combine flame and water patterns in the design of the brazier, it would be a stronger image to allow the real flames inside the brazier to show through the wave motif cut into the steel. We had a really enjoyable conversation about how the brazier would be used, what stories would play a part in the liturgy, and so forth, so that I had a very clear idea of what effect he wanted to achieve.

When I shipped the brazier, I included an extra section of pipe for the stand so that it could be configured as higher or lower depending on how it would be carried through the church. I emailed Brian to let him know it was on the way and provided some instructions on how they might acheive different finishes on the metal if desired. He wrote back to say:

We’re really looking forward to receiving the brazier! I’m pleased by your excitement over this piece — it shows through in your email. We’re very excited about having this piece of your work at Resurrection!

Thank you very much for the information about the brazier, its upkeep and the flexibility in stand size. Our plans are to either kindle the fire on the parish’s Labyrinth or at the Columbarium. I think either would make great symbols for Easter (either that of journey/pilgrimage, or of life from death).

I love having the opportunity to do work which carries a deeper meaning for people than just decorative or functional work. I wish I could be there this weekend to see the service, but Brian has promised to send some photos which I will definitely post here when I get them. I got a really great email from him a couple weeks after the brazier arrived which read:

I wanted to touch base with you to let you know that the water-imagery brazier is perfect! It arrived safely about two weeks ago, and we’re looking forward to using it at the Great Vigil of Easter. Mixing the kindling of the Paschal fire with the images of water that make up the stories of the evening’s liturgy will be a powerful symbol.

Thanks so much for your work in getting this to us so quickly. It’s wonderful! We really like the way it has turned out. Bravo!

Happy Easter, Brian! Thanks for the opportunity to come up with a cool new design!