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Yuriko Bullock

October 2023 People Feature
Photography: Conner Spangrud
Words: Nicole Gilmore

Tucked away on Orcas Island is multifaceted ceramic artist Yuriko Bullock. Her studio, built by a dear friend of hers, is nestled between a Melrose apple and Chojuro pear tree. The family’s hand-built wood-fired kiln is just up a gravel driveway adjacent to an airstream trailer, outdoor shower, and towering seabuckthorn plant. The studio and sprawling homestead feels intentional and unpredictable at the same time, exactly like her ceramics. Her wabi-sabi style, pinch-bowl technique, and unique eye for capturing magic in the kiln makes each of her pieces truly one-of-a-kind.

Yuriko and her family moved to Orcas Island from Hawaii over 35 years ago. They immediately began building their homestead on the west side of the island. Its goal was to support the extended Bullock family, which at the time included Yuriko’s two brother-in-laws, their partners, children, and visiting grandparents. It eventually became what it is today - a world-known permaculture homestead with a former skill-building program for interns and a fundamental location of advanced landscape design courses.

Yuriko is instrumental in the homestead's garden design, food production, land and animal management, as well as food preservation. Her passion and connection to growing and preparing food, as well as her years of Ikebana and Sado training heavily influence the way she creates and interacts with ceramics. For a period of time she also had a very successful kitchen-garden restaurant on Orcas Island.


“I don’t know which one I like more, pottery or gardening...

It might be gardening because it’s more physical. With pottery you are making it, but with gardening you need to have the environment right...the sun, water and the condition of soil. One little seed becomes a tiny seedling and becomes a bigger plant and gives you flowers or gives you food that you eat. Watching flowers, smelling the scent of the flowers...makes you feel fulfilled.” -YB

Yuriko’s aesthetic is rooted in her Japanese culture and its esteemed appreciation of ceramics. She keeps her inspiration active by regularly visiting famous pottery towns in Japan. Most recently, she visited Mashiko and had the opportunity to view its iconic ceramic wares that she had admired since early childhood.

“I have seen in Japan that tea bowls are never really perfectly thrown. It has a little bit of a misshaped look to it. That’s how I am relating to pretty pottery. In my mind that’s how I want to make them.”

Clay and pottery have had a profound effect on Yuriko’s happiness and quality of life. She now hosts small private classes to help others connect with clay and pottery. “The people I’ve taught, they felt their life changed by doing clay. Playing with clay made them much more fulfilled, happy. They don’t have to say ‘Wow, now what? What am I going to do with my life?’ But if they don’t have anything else to do, they have pottery. Sharing that excitement is my most favorite part of teaching.”

Please enjoy a special look into the wonderful world of Yuriko Bullock. See more of her studio and farm by watching Nicole Gilmore's artist spotlight film here. We hope you can make it into the shop to see her one-of-a-kind pieces in person. While in-store, make sure to experience our curated ceramic collection from her daughter, Ayame Bullock.


Shop the Collection Online

Yuriko’s collection was hand selected by Conner Spangrud and Nicole Gilmore for Glasswing