The Island Gallery

The Island Gallery features leading Northwest artists working in wood fired ceramics, an ancient art form revered in Japan and with a growing following throughout the United States and abroad. The vessels are fired at Anagama and train kilns in the Northwest. The damp forests of the Northwest supply both the fuel and inspiration for artists working with wood fired ceramics.

The Anagama firing process lasts for about one hundred hours, the artists continuously feeding and stoking the fires until the interior temperatures of the kilns reach 2000-plus degrees Fahrenheit. Along with this extreme heat, many other elements affect the outcome of each piece: clay; season of firing; condition and genus of wood; placement in the kiln; and glazes. And then there is fate; many vessels do not survive the kiln; of those that do, there are never two that emerge exactly alike.

Our ceramic artists have long experience as potters and educators and their wood fired ceramics include large and small vessels, sculptural pieces and functional ware. We also feature pit fired lamps and vases.

Wood-fired ceramics artist Jenny Andersen notes:

Firing methods, which demand close interaction with the fire itself, have always been important to me. For many years I worked primarily with raku, pit firing, bonfiring, and other "primitive" firing techniques. I participated in my first Anagama firing in 1999, and since then I have been pretty well consumed by high temperature wood firing. I love the hard work involved, the community effort required, the huge fire rumbling in the kiln for days, and most of all I love the feeling of collaborating with nature in order to complete the work. Inspiration for my work comes largely from my interest in historical art, especially the ritual bronzes and ceramics of Asia. People from all parts of the earth have been working with clay and fire for thousands of years, and the legacy they have left us is rich and vast. Whether working on sculpture or exploring vessel forms, I look to this legacy to keep me reaching for the highest standards.

Faith and Fortuitous Beauty
Thoughts on wood fired pottery
by Susan Neal Roth / Bainbridge Island 2005

Living as we do in a society known for mass production and instant gratification, what a joy it is to discover wood fired pottery, an art form that exactly opposes these qualities.