Wood-Fired Ceramics Exhibition, "Connected By Fire" at the Blue Spiral Gallery in Asheville, NC. June 2017.

Last month saw a great many wood-fire potters congregating in North Carolina. The International Woodfire Conference took place at STARworks NC, from June 8th-11th, with a week of pre-conference activities beforehand. I was lucky enough to be able to scoot up to the mountains of western NC to see the exhibitions going on and meet lots of great potters. 

I spent a good bit of Saturday at Josh Copus' compound where two kilns were being busily loaded and anther being built. Josh curated Connected By Fire at the Blue Spiral Gallery in Asheville around a core group of artists who in turn invited others into the fold. I didn't manage to make it to the opening, but I got the place to myself on Sunday morning and had time and space to photograph the work. I did miss a cabinet of cups which was secreted away on another floor of the gallery, and a few of my pics were inexplicably blurry and had to be left out, but I saw most of it. 


I thought it was a delightful display of wood-fired ceramics. The variety of surfaces is astounding; from the warm, glazed surfaces of Bandana Pottery's work, to the dramatic flashing achieved by Copus and Knoche, to the subtler, somber tones of David Peters' work, to the dark, stormy ash build up on Ben Richardson's Deflection pieces. There were surprises, too, such as Jeff Shapiro's ice flow piece which reminded me of an icing accident on a basalt cake, or Will Dickert's angular platters which had me imagining how many different types of nuts I could lay my hands on (seriously nice nut display opportunities), or Mr Oh's bizarre, whimsical wood fired sculptures. 

The firings of the pieces in the show is crucial to their success. Speaking with Josh Copus, he said that he is thinking about the placement of every pot as he's making it in the studio, and not only this but that different local clays end up in different areas of the kiln based on how they look at different temperatures and levels of oxidation or reduction. You can see the care and consideration that was taken in the way these pieces were placed in the kiln and fired. 

Many of the potters use local materials and their work exhibits a raw sensibility: a sense of the earth and the rocks and the geological processes that made them. Being a potter myself, these things greatly appeal to me. To know that slip came from the stream at the end of the potter's garden makes the piece so much richer. Seeing this work and talking with many of the artists involved was inspiring. To know that you can experiment with just about any material you find, and figure out whether it could be useful in a slip, glaze, or clay body, or even just as wadding to place pots on in the kiln, is very exciting. 

It has opened my eyes to a different way of looking at clay. In my daily studio practice, we take clay, made now by Takuro Shibata at his clay factory at Starworks; pug it, weigh it out, and throw functional pots with it. The clay has to be plastic and fine in order to stretch it thin and throw large bellies into mugs or jars. But much of the work in this exhibition veers dramatically away from this way of working; Akira Satake's boxes and sculptures are so far from thinly thrown mugs. It almost seems like he hasn't worked the clay at all: the finished pieces feel so raw and natural, like mountains and trees.

Well, that's probably enough gesticulating from me. Enjoy the pictures! 

Akira Satake, Sculptural Box No. 1. Wood-fired porcelaneous clay. 7.25 x 7 x 6.5. $625.

Eric Knoche, Untitled Line. Wood-fired stoneware with slips. 21 x 19 x 6. $3,500.

Akira Satake, Sculpture No. 2. Wood-fired porcelaneous clay. 17.5 x 10.5 x 7. $4,500.

Eric KnocheAbacus No. 3. Wood-fired stoneware with slips. 28 x 45 x 3. $2,700.

Akira SatakeKohiki Vase No. 3 (left) & Kohiki Vase No. 1 (right). Wood-fired stretched slip stoneware. $685 & $625.

Eric KnocheHorseshoe Cloud. Wood-fired ceramics. 18 x 14 x 5. $2,000.

Eric KnocheChain. Wood-fired stoneware with slip. 77 x 8 x 7. $3,000.

Eric KnocheMiscellaneous Symbols and Tools. Wood-fired stoneware with slips. 30 x 50 x 7. $3,300.

Close-up of: Eric KnocheMiscellaneous Symbols and Tools. Wood-fired stoneware with slips. 30 x 50 x 7. $3,300.

Close up of: Eric KnocheMiscellaneous Symbols and Tools. Wood-fired stoneware with slips. 30 x 50 x 7. $3,300.

Judith Duff, Wave. Wood-fired ceramics. 9.5 x 13 x 6. $650.

Judith DuffShigaraki Clay Bottle. Wood-fired ceramics. 15.75 x 5.75 x 5.25. $600.

Judith DuffIkebana Form. Wood-fired ceramics. 5 x 17 x 3. $450.

Catherine WhiteEcho. Wood-fired stoneware with natural ash glaze. 17.5 x 11 x 11. $900.

Catherine WhiteSpokes. Wood-fired stoneware with natural ash glaze. 6.5 x 13 x 12.5. $400.

Catherine WhiteStriation (left) & Kite II (right). Wood-fired stoneware with natural ash glaze. $200 & $500.

Catherine White, Pulse. Wood-fired stoneware with natural ash glaze. 10 x 9 x 6.5. $400.

Eric KnocheAbacus. Wood fired-stoneware with slip. 30 x 50 x 7. $2,700.

Tim Rowan, Box. Wood-fired native clay. 8 x 7 x 6. $800.

Tim RowanVessel. Wood-fired native clay. 23 x 9 x 10. $3,000.

Eric KnochePuzzle No. 2. Wood-fired stoneware with slips. 9 x 24 x 5. $2,300.

Hyang Jong Oh, Three Birds (sold as set). Wood-fired ceramics with slip and glaze. 36 x 9 x 6. $2,000.

Hyang Jong OhMusician Pagoda. Wood-fired ceramics. 27 x 12 x 12. $1,800.

Ben Richardson, Cleave No. 1 & 2. Wood-fired ceramics. 8.5 x 6. $600 each.

Left: Josh Copus, Large Stone Vessel No. 5. Wood-fired wild clay. 29 x 14 x 9. $900.
Right: Josh Copus, Medium Stone Vessel No. 9. Wood-fired wild clay. 20 x 9 x 9. $450.

Josh Copus, Large Stone Vessel No. 12. Wood-fired wild clay. 26 x 17 x 17. $900.

Josh Copus, Large Stone Vessel No. 4. Wood-fired wild clay. 30 x 17 x 12. $900.

Josh Copus, Small Pixels (sold individually). Wood-fired wild clay. 46 x 34. $30.

Left: Shozo Michikawa. Natural Ash Twist Form No. 2. Wood-fired ceramics. 8 x 4.5 x 4.5. $2,000.
Middle: Shozo Michikawa. Natural Ash Vase. Wood-fired ceramics. 11 x 3.5 x 3.5. $2,000.
Right: Shozo Michikawa. Natural Ash Twist Form No. 1. Wood-fired ceramics. 7.25 x 4.5 x 4.5. $1,800.

Shozo Michikawa. Tanka Bowl. Wood-fired ceramics. 5.5 x 13 x 12. $2,500.

Shozo Michikawa. Natural Ash Pineapple Vase No. 2. Wood-fired ceramics. 6.5 x 6 x 6. $2,000.

Ben RichardsonDeflection No. 1 & 2. Wood-fired ceramics. 12 x 5 x 3. $500 each.

Ben RichardsonDeflection No. 2. Wood-fired ceramics. 12 x 5 x 3. $500.

Josh Copus, Large Stone Vessel No. 2 & No. 11. Wood-fired wild clay. 25 x 15 x 6 & 28 x 17 x 16. $900 each.

Josh Copus, Orb. Wood-fired ceramics. 7 x 8 x 8. $250.

Josh Copus, Large Orb Vessel. Wood-fired wild clay. 19 x 16 x 16. $900.

Ben RichardsonAs Darkness Falls No. 1 & 2. Wood-fired ceramics. 6 x 5.5 & 7 x 5.5. $600 each.

Josh Copus, Erosion. Wood-fired wild clay. 7 x 7 x 2. $240 each.

Will Dickert, Jar Study, No. 1. Wood-fired stoneware. 9 x 7 x 7. $200.

Will DickertTrough Form. Wood-fired stoneware. 8 x 9 x 28. $995.

Jeff Shapiro pieces. Details below.

Jeff Shapiro, Ice Flow Series No. 1. Wood-fired ceramics with natural ash deposit and glaze. 6.5 x 12 x 10. $1,600.

Jeff ShapiroUntitled No. 1. Wood-fired ceramics with natural ash deposit and glaze. 21 x 9 x 4. $2,300.

Jeff ShapiroUntitled No. 2. Wood-fired ceramics with glaze, ash, and shell marks. 15 x 17 x 4. $1,500.

Josh Copus, Large Stone Vessel No. 9. Wood-fired wild clay. 24 x 16 x 8. $900.

Will DickertBoat Form. Wood-fired stoneware. 6 x 8 x 22. $425.

Will DickertLinear Form. Wood-fired stoneware. 7 x 33 x 9. $975.

Michael Hunt & Naomi Dalglish, Fluted Oval Vase. Wood-fired local clay with Nuka glaze. 6.5 x 12 x 5. $175.

Michael Hunt & Naomi Dalglish, Onggi Shield Vase. Wood-fired local clay with slip and glaze. 19 x 14 x 5.5. $800.

Michael Hunt & Naomi DalglishLarge Square Tray. Wood-fired local clay with wax resist and iron. 16 x 16 x 2. $475.

Michael Hunt & Naomi DalglishCarved Tray with Handles. Wood-fired local clay and Nuka glaze. 4.5 x 17.5 x 2. $125.

Michael Hunt & Naomi DalglishSquare Bottle. Wood-fired local clay with slip glaze. 11 x 5 x 5. $175.

Michael Hunt & Naomi Dalglish, Long Tray No. 1. Wood-fired local clay with slip, sgraffito and green deco. 22 x 7.5 x 2. $375.

Sandy LockwoodBlack Jar. Wood-fired salt-glazed stoneware. 7 x 3 x 3. $450.

Sandy LockwoodOrange Platter. Wood-fired and salt-glazed stoneware. 10 x 10. $900.
Sandy LockwoodCups. Wood-fired and salt-glazed stoneware. 5 x 3. $105 each.

William Baker, Triangle Vase. Stoneware, thrown and altered. 7 x 11 x 5. $220.

William Baker, Square Bowl. Stoneware, thrown and altered. 8 x 11 x 11. $495.

William Baker, Bottle No. 1. Stoneware, thrown and altered. 15 x 6 x 6. $325.

William Baker, Bowl No. 2. Stoneware, thrown and altered. 7 x 8 x 8. $260.

Josh Copus, Large Stone Vessel No. 8. Wood-fired wild clay. 24 x 8 x 7. $700.

Close up: Josh Copus, Large Stone Vessel No. 8. Wood-fired wild clay. 24 x 8 x 7. $700.

Eric Knoche, Untitled Form No. 3. Wood-fired stoneware with slips. 36 x 24 x 14. $5,700.

Close up of: Eric KnocheUntitled Form No. 3. Wood-fired stoneware with slips. 36 x 24 x 14. $5,700.

David Peters, Bowl. Wood-fired local stoneware. 5 x 13.5 x 13.5. $375.

David PetersSeven Sided Jar. Wood-fired local stoneware. 14.5 x 17.5 x 17.5. $1900.

David PetersFour Sided Jar. Wood-fired local stoneware. 8 x 13 x 13. $600.

Eric KnocheUntitled Form No. 2. Wood-fired stoneware with slips. 18 x 16 x 14. $2,800.

Eric KnocheUntitled Form No. 1. Wood-fired stoneware with slips. 16 x 18 x 15. $3,000.

Akira SatakeSculpture No. 1. Wood-fired porcelaneous clay. 12.5 x 7.5 x 5. $1,800.

Akira SatakeSculpture No. 5. Wood-fired porcelaneous clay. 6.25 x 8 x 7. $725.