Raphael Kerem

Raphael Kerem is also an architectural designer and woodworker. He lives in a historic cheese factory in the Village of Burridge, near Westport, Ontario.

GFC is very pleased to be showing his Shrine series, inspired by Buddhist teachings and the sacred architecture found in many parts of Asia. Scroll down to see the 5 beautiful pieces available now.

Raphael studied broom-making 30+ years ago with authentic Appalachian-style makers. He has since interpreted traditional designs with locally sourced woods and other materials. The broom corn he uses is of rare quality, perfect for daily use, imported from parts of the United States and Mexico.

The broomcorn plant was first described in Italy in the late 1500s. Benjamin Franklin is credited with introducing it to the United States in the early 1700s. Broomcorn is a coarse annual grass (related to sorghum and sugarcane) that grows 6 to 15 feet tall. The long fibrous panicles of this plant are perfect for making brooms that have just the right stiffness for good function and are long-lasting.

In his workshop, Raphael has built a hand-winding machine for making his brooms. It maintains even tension so the structure of the broom is strong and solid, with beautifully woven details in combinations of three colours: red, black and natural tan. He makes two types of handles: lathe-turned hardwood or hand-hewn locally sourced maple sapling. Brooms are made in various lengths and styles, as well as small whisks and copper dust pans.

After so many years of making brooms, Raphael says, “I enjoy keeping a traditional hand craft alive!”


Raphael Kerem Shrine series

General Fine Craft is pleased to show these exquisite boxes which Raphael Kerem carefully constructed of wood, paint, gold leaf and found natural materials. Each one can stand on its own or be wall-hung. They were inspired by Buddhist teachings and sacred architecture found in parts of Asia.

“The sanctity of nature is a belief held common in all world religions. Nature surrounds us and is within us. Its cycles are strong and harmonious, endowing us with an unerring instinct for form and beauty.

A host of living creatures inhabit the Earth, each one distinct and wondrous, always leaving their bodily remains once its spirit has left. These remains are scattered like jewels in the natural landscape. When we find one, it is an instant reminder of our interdependence and connection.

The shrine is a place to exalt and focus this sacred experience. The double pointed arch and gilded roof are associated with sacred architecture in many parts of Asia.”      – R. Kerem