Ted Ernst

I began taking pottery classes in the mid-1990s at Linn-Benton Community College (LBCC) in Corvallis, Oregon as an outlet to exercise the right side of my brain. My education and career have been in ecology and applied statistics. I felt that the artistic/creative part of my brain had atrophied and I needed a way to shut down my left brain when I wasn’t working to achieve better balance in my life.

Initially I considered myself a scientist with a clay hobby.  Somewhere on my journey circumstances led me to cross the threshold into being a potter who supported himself with science. I found myself adjusting my work schedule to accommodate my pottery schedule. I volunteered as an instructional assistant and eventually began teaching in the ceramics department at LBCC. My wife, Sandy, and I built a pottery studio on our property and began pursuing making and selling pottery more seriously.

I create functional and decorative stoneware and porcelain pottery that is strongly influenced by Japanese folk-tradition and southwestern Native American forms. I strive to combine strong forms with quiet surfaces which enhances the interaction between my pieces, the kiln and the clay. Most of the surface decorations result from natural ash glaze from Japanese wood-fired anagama kilns and colored slips and wood-ash in gas-fired salt-glaze kilns. I also produce pottery using Raku techniques and cone 10 gas-fired reduction kilns.

Anagama kilns, use an ancient Japanese-style kiln design and firing process, which requires a small community of usually 8-12 potters to load and stoke the kiln with wood around the clock for several days. Each finished piece reflects a collaboration with the fire, the kiln, and the collective decisions made by the potters during the loading and firing. Although I create pieces with certain intentions and decisions, and often start with pots similar to what I have previously made, each kiln and firing condition is different and adds its own unique characteristics and subtle palette to create beautiful finished pots.

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