About Gordon Hutchens Pottery
About Gordon Hutchens Pottery
A five-minute drive from the Denman West Ferry terminal, you can visit renowned master potter Gordon Hutchens in his gallery and studio beside his home set on 19 forested acres.
From functional ware to museum-quality pieces, Gordon’s work is known for the depth and diversity of his glazes and the strength and refinement of his forms.
In 2019, the Board of the BC Achievement Foundation honoured Gordon Hutchens with the Creative Achievement Award of Distinction, Carter Wosk Award in Applied Art + Design honouring his nearly 50-year career and his contributions as a ceramic instructor and mentor to the potter community
Gordon uses a variety of clays, techniques and firing methods to create his one-of-kind pieces, including his hand built Tozan-style Anagama wood-fired kiln
Gordon formulates and blends all his own clay bodies using many different clays from across North America, England and even from his own property on Denman Island. Seaweed, smoke and wood ash are some of the natural ingredients used to create unique glazes.
“I’m attracted to variable glazes where subtle differences in the action of the flame can make a dramatic difference in the character of the glaze ~ where fire tells a story. I get excited by the power of heat, the way fire brings about the transformation, the metamorphosis of elements I’ve combined into something new.
For me the most important thing is finding balance, not just physical balance, but the balance between control and spontaneity, traditional and contemporary, technique and inspiration.”
Using a broad range of techniques, clays, and firing methods, he produces a variety of work from sculptured to functional, and utilizes an extremely broad range of techniques.
Raku – A 16th century Japanese technique, closely associated with Zen Buddhism and the tea ceremony. In it’s North American variation, the pieces are removed from the kiln at the peak of the firing while the glazes are still molten, and then placed in a sealed container with straw and sawdust to cool. This smoky atmosphere, combined with copper and silver in Gordon’s glazes, create lustrous and iridescent surfaces. Since the clay is very porous to help withstand the tremendous heat shock, it is not suitable for holding water.
Salt Glaze Stoneware – A technique of Medieval European origin, where salt or soda ash is thrown into the kiln at around 2300°F. The sodium combines with the vitrified clay to form an orange-peel textured glaze, with colours from the natural clay or coloured clay slips.
Crystalline Glazed Porcelain – First done in Europe in the late 1800s, Gordon has spent any years developing his own personal palette of these glazes. This complicated technique emulates the natural formation of crystals in rock cooling deep in the earth, though the patterns create many other natural images. The glaze contains a high % of zinc, along with metallic colourants, such as titanium, copper, cobalt, nickel, silver and gold, to grow natural, spontaneous crystal patterns impossible to duplicate.
Reduction Fired Earthenware – Related to the French Art Nouveau ceramics of the late 1800’s, a low temperature firing creates rich colours and lustrous surfaces, while retaining the depth and complexity of high fire. This is one of the areas where pottery is closely related to Alchemy, both aesthetically and historically.
Denman Lustre – Over many years of experimentation Gordon developed a new technique similar to some raku glazes, which he calls Denman Lustre.
“My goal was to create a piece that looks as though it could be very ancient and at the same time very contemporary — timeless.”
After an initial bisque firing of water-tight porcelain, the piece is covered in a glaze that contains about 40% high-metal content clay from Gordon’s own property and fired to 2350F (1300C). When cooled, accents are brushed on with a preparation of gold chloride and resin and re-fired to fuse the gold to the surface. Different metallic salts are used during this firing to create “interference colours”, a complex surface that bounces light waves in opposite directions simultaneously, creating a velvety iridescence like that used on Art Nouveau blown glass.
Wood-firing in an Anagama Kiln – Gordon’s Tozan-style Anagama kiln on Denman Island was built more than 20 years ago by Yukio Yamamoto, a master kiln builder, potter and sculptor from Japan.
The wood-fired kiln that burns up to 1250 degrees C, creates ash that blows around the pottery and adheres to the surface as a glaze and creates interesting colour effects.
Every year, Gordon invites potters across BC for a week of firing in his Anagama kiln.
About the Artist
Gordon Hutchens is a master potter with an honours degree in Fine Arts.
He has exhibited extensively in Canada, the U.S., and Japan and his permanent collections include the Bronfman Family’s “Claridge Collection” and the Canadian Museum of Civilization.
He is currently the instructor of North Island College’s Professional Potter program and recipient of the 2019 BC Creative Achievement Award of Distinction Carter Wosk Award in Applied Art + Design.
Denman Island has been his home for nearly 50 years and he is a major supporter of arts on the Island, as a mentor, art show and pottery tour coordinator, and host to dozens of BC potters who come to use his Anagama kiln each year.
“Life on Denman Island gives me both the solitude and the rich aesthetic stimulation to be creative.”
~ Gordon Hutchens
Gordon welcomes to visitors to his studio to view and discuss his techniques and inspirations.
Samples of his work are also on display at the Denman Craft Shop.
“One of the highlights of each trip was visiting Gordon’s studio. His pottery is astonishing and he was never too busy to talk about the artistry and science of his pottery, not to mention his beautiful chickens!”
Circle Craft Christmas Market, November 7-11, 2019 at the Vancouver Convention Centre West
Out of Hand Modern Market, November 22-24, 2019, Crystal Garden, Victoria