Out of the ashes

Ken Lundemo’s Seabeck workshop is surrounded by stacks and stacks of firewood. It looks like he is prepared for a very long and cold winter, but actually all the wood is a small portion of what is needed to fuel his current passion — a wood-fired anagama kiln.

Lundemo explained that “anagama” is Japanese for “tunnel oven,” and that is exactly what his pottery kiln is. A 23-foot long tunnel made of firebricks and clay, with three levels inside for stacking pottery.

Firewood is piled around the pieces, and the resulting heat and ash creates the finished product.

It takes about six cords of firewood for each firing, keeping the oven baking at 2300 to 2500 degrees for five days.

The process also takes a crew of six to a dozen people, working around the clock to keep the fires going.

The process is unpredictable, Lundemo said, and opening the kiln is akin to opening presents on Christmas Day.

“It’s a neat process,” Lundemo said. “You can really get hooked on it.”

The pieces Lundemo creates tend to be based on the natural world, with salmon being a favorite subject. He uses spawned out salmon from the local hatchery for molds, creating life-sized works of art with the unique ash glaze.

Lundemo also combines his pottery pieces with sculpted stone. These pieces will be in the exhibit, “Between Rocks and a Hot Place,” showing at Collective Visions Gallery through Oct. 29.

Many of his pieces also incorporate Native American motifs, sometimes with a sense of humor as well. A piece that looks like a Native American woman dressed in a salmon costume is called “Salmonella.”

“I like to refer to the Northwest native culture and their relationship with nature,” he said.

Lundemo is a Northwest native of the Caucasian variety, and has lived in Seabeck for close to 20 years, and Silverdale for many years before that.

He first studied art at Olympic College in 1949, then went on to a stint in the N avy and a career with Pacific NW Bell, which became Qwest.

He continued to take evening art classes in ceramics and bronze casting, and received an associate of arts degree from Olympic College. After retiring in 1983 he was able to pursue his art full time.

He works in a variety of media, including wood, stone, metals, plastics, glass and found objects.

His work is represented in many private and corporation collections, and he is a founding member of Collective Visions Gallery.

In 1975 he created the first piece of sculpture purchased by the Washington State Arts Commission for its One Percent for the Arts in Public Places program, and this year his piece, “Fall Journey,” took first place at the Kitsap Arts and Crafts Festival.

Showing through Oct. 29 in the Boardroom Gallery at Collective Visions is “Currents,” by Bernice Walsh, featuring a collection of monotypes and paintings that “captures the energy of Earth’s dynamic movements in oceans, skies, winds and tectonics.”

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