Lucien's "methods and approach to making result in extremely pleasing pieces. He has a natural affinity for form and balance and is discerning in his output. This translates to work which references but does not seek to intrude on Japanese tradition, preferring instead to pay homage to an aesthetic and cultural meaning with an individual style of the highest quality". - Howard Clegg, The Stratford Gallery, Broadway, England

Lucien M. Koonce was born in the North Carolina town of Greenville (Pitt County) and attended undergraduate school at East Carolina University, Greenville, NC. Majoring in Ceramics, he received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1978.

Covered Container

Stoneware clay, underglazes, lead clear glaze; oxidation fired to c/6.

7.5" H x 9" W x 9" D


His graduate Ceramics studies were at the University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, where he received a Master of Arts degree and a Master of Fine Arts degree. This three year combined degree program was completed in 1981.

Convergence #1

Extruded earthenware clay hollow tile; hand built and altered; reduction fired to c/9.

31.75" H x 27" W x 21" D


Lucien lived in Robbins, NC (Moore County; located within the Seagrove, NC radius) from 1986 to 2002. This eastern Piedmont region of North Carolina has had a heritage of pottery making since the mid-1800s. It was there that he established Horsepen Kiln Studio.

Avian Dwelling with Acorn Finial

Hand built local NC stoneware clay, flint rock chips, salt glaze, natural ash glaze; wood fired (Ben Owen groundhog kiln) to c/10 for three days.

11" H x 7" W x 7" D


From Robbins, he relocated to Charlotte, NC where he was an adjunct lecturer with UNC-Charlotte, teaching Ceramics Handbuilding and Three-dimensional Design. During this time period he re-established Horsepen Kiln Studio in the Asheville, NC (Buncombe County) area.

Three Orange Circles

Hand formed earthenware clay, terra sigillata, Mason stains; oxidation fired to c/4.

2.25" H x 16.5" W x 16.5" D


In 2008 Lucien left North Carolina and now resides in the western Massachusetts village of Haydenville, where he maintains Horsepen Kiln Studio. His ceramic work consists of hand built (kurinuki technique) functional and sculptural forms, which are wood fired, and are exhibited nationally and internationally.

Guinomi (Sake Cup)

Hand carved and hollowed (kurinuki technique) stoneware clay, natural ash glaze; wood fired (J. Shapiro anagama) for seven days to c/10.

2.5" H x 2.5" W x 2'5" D


Chaire (Tea Caddy)

hand carved and hollowed (kurinuki technique) stoneware clay with thrown lid, oribe glaze; oxidation fired to c/9.

4.75" H x 2.50" D x 2.50" W


Artist Statement

"I approach the composition of my work with spontaneity and immediacy, discovering the form during the process of making it. My alteration and manipulation of solid clay emphasizes the plasticity and gestural qualities of that material while achieving asymmetry. With functional ware I seek to push the disorganization and the subsequent reorganization of the vessel to becoming an abstract object in the sculptural realm while retaining its function. With sculptural/non-functional pieces I approach the surface in the same manner, seeking to connect the piece with the fragmentation of geological outcrops.

In the process of making, I begin with a solid mass of clay, utilizing various tools to shape the exterior surface. While I may have preconceived notions of the form, it is through spontaneous manipulation that the exterior of an object is derived. Regarding vessels, once the clay stiffens, I hollow out the interior by hand with a metal carving tool, a process known as 'kurinuki'*. This technique, in which a form is dug or carved out of solid clay instead of being shaped on a potter’s wheel or made from coils or slabs, is a process that allows me to strike a balance between the outer and inner movements of an open form.

My main glazes are oribe and shino, with wood-firing being a primary focus. This method of firing adds another dimension to the composition, ultimately helping to define ones interpretation of the whole. The inherent nature of continuous flame, intense heat, and ash upon the clay, whether glazed or unglazed, adds color and textural effects that are congruent to each piece. The unpredictability of the firing, juxtaposed to the implementation of as many controlled variables as one can, creates random visual beauty, or landscape, which harmonizes with the physical form. Subsequently, the form, whether functional or non-functional, has become like a diary, recording the thoughts and process of the maker and the kiln’s fire.”

Lucien Koonce

* I have been using this technique of forming since 2009. An article in the January 2009 issue of Ceramics Monthly magazine covered the work of Japanese ceramicist Kaneta Masanao, who is an eighth generation Hagi potter. After reading about how he "hollowed out" his forms using "kurinuki", it was as though a light bulb came on in my head!  As rudimentary as the method is, I found it to be a brilliant approach to creating vessels.