Read this wonderful article written by one of my students in 200?.  Updated and published in the Chinese ceramic publication "Art Design" in 2010.

Graceful Elegance .doc

Graceful Elegance .pdf


"Wood-firing is like a volcano," says Ken Turner, who speaks of ceramics as an almost sacred art. "It re-creates what happens on the earth." Several times a year, Turner a local ceramist and instructor at the Bellevue Community College and Burien's Mosier Arts Center, travels to Sumner to "visit" a rare wood-fire kiln that he and a fellow potter Michael McCullough built themselves. There, they sit in vigil, stoking the fires for three days straight.

The 41-year-old artist, who was introduced to ceramics by Regnor Reinholdsten a teacher at Sammamish High School and has been involved with the Pacific Northwest Arts & Crafts Fair as both an exhibitor and juror for 10 years, is better-known locally for his more refined gold, platinum, and copper decorated work. But his explanation of the wood-firing method, his latest interest, engages his listeners: Stoking the fires for three days raises the kiln's temperature to the appropriate 2,400 degrees Fahrenheit, causing the wood to emit ash. The ash then chemically combines with the silica in the clay pots and melts to form a natural glaze on the surface. The pieces are unevenly colored as a result an area closer to the fire becomes glossier than the rest. It's an imperfect look, with several "wad marks" clearly visible where the pot was held during the firing. However, Turner says that such markings are valued in Japan and Korea, and are considered perfect in their unpretentiousness.

This fall, Turner will be one of the first instructors to kick off Arts 2000, an innovative joint venture of BCC and the Bellevue Art Museum. The program will bring classes and the actual making of art into the museum, dusty ceramics studio and all. While he won't be teaching wood-firing in Arts 2000 classes he will concentrate on the "finer" arts of raku and high-fired pottery he does hope to turn students and other Eastside’s on to the simpler beauty of woodfiring as well.

It seems fitting that at this point in his career, Turner would take this more natural approach to his art. "I want to reintroduce some human character into my work," he says. Hopefully, local patrons and galleries such as Kirkland's Anderson Glover Gallery, where he has previously exhibited, will catch Turner's enthusiasm for his changing style.


September 3rd, 1997  EASTSIDEWEEK

Raku Firing on the Web
by Helen Bates

Article originally published by Pottery Making Illustrated, a publication of The American Ceramic Society.

Ken Turner

Ken Turner ScreenshotRaku Workshop Pictures
Ken Turner built these fiber raku kilns based on the original clamshell design by John Harris and Mike Blackwell. His photos show how the upper parts of the kilns fold down on either side to aid in loading and unloading, then fold together vertically for firing. The kilns are also on large casters for ease of transport. To enter the site, click on the pot with the gold lid, then scroll down the left-hand menu for the link to "Raku firing." From there, click on the small photo at the top of the page or scroll down the page and click on "Raku Workshop Photos." Again, while you are at the site you'll be tempted to check out Ken's many wonderful pieces, both handbuilt and wheel thrown, with sophisticated combinations of "lava" glazes and gold and silver lusters.