Camano Island Pottery
ROGER COCKE, THE POTTER
Roger began his ceramics career in the early ’60s studying with renowned potter, teacher, and author, Susan Peterson at the University of Southern California. His studies continued at the Art Institute of California and Pasadena City College where he was influenced by the unique artistic vision of ceramic artist, Phillip Cornelius.
In 1995, after raising a large family and completing a career operating a successful architectural firm doing civic projects throughout Southern California, Roger re-entered the field of ceramic arts. He was soon offered a position as an instructor at the Foothill Creative Arts Group in Sierra Madre, CA where he taught classes, maintained the studio, and fired large gas kilns. In addition, Roger maintained a studio from 1995 to 2001 in Pasadena and exhibited ceramic art throughout Southern California.
In 2001 Opal & Roger Cocke moved to the Pacific Northwest. Camano Island became their new home along with a community of other artists in a variety of art fields.
I prefer to call my studio the pottery because it is where I, the potter, make pots. It represents more than a decade of my dreams and aspirations for a fully operational place where I can make and glaze my pots. My workspace is spacious and airy with lots of light from windows and skylights. There are trees all around so that the woods and the weather are ever-present for whatever activities are taking place in the pottery.
The pottery interior space is about the size of a two-car garage and has a fifteen-foot- high vaulted ceiling. Included are lots of cabinets, shelves and a large cleanup sink. The pottery is equipped with an electric kiln, a wet throwing wheel, and a dry trimming wheel. The slab roller is mounted on a wheeled cart so that it, along with two other carts, can be moved out when setting up for gallery display. A large work table in the center of the room is heavily used and cleans up nicely when it becomes the major display feature at gallery time.
My wife, Opal, and I, having lived in the Los Angeles area all our lives, were immediately impressed with Camano Island when we first drove onto it. The beauty of the farms and the residential properties, the contrast of the tall stands of timber and the seashore with its rocky beaches and high bluffs. Most impressive though were the people. They were laid back, unpretentious, and very friendly.
After living here for more than twenty years we still feel the same about the place. We found property on the west side on a high bluff offering scenic vistas of a nearby island and the very best sunsets and moonsets, each better than the last.
We soon found that the island is home to many artists and hosts an open studio tour for five days in May. In 2019 more than 40 artists presented a variety of quality art to thousands of visitors from all over the region.
I am amazed at how the beauty of this place has influenced my work. Colors and textures are not only everywhere, but they change all during the year. Even the abandoned old farm equipment with their rusting metal and peeling paint alongside a weathered barn with its cracked and textured boards keep me striving to express this influence in my work.