Michael Gesiakowski was giving a demonstration at Kishwaukee College. Lucky for us, his demonstration ended at 6pm and our class started at 6:30. He took the time to talk with us about his woodburning firing techniques.
One thing that Michael said was that each piece of pottery is like a recording of what happened in the kiln. The wood ash will swirl in and around the piece. In this way he can tell where it was placed in the kiln as well as which side was facing the fire. I thought how cool it was to have a 'recording' of a specific place and time. He said that pottery from 4,000 BC has been found. How awesome it is that a single moment in time was captured for all time - someone today could still decipher the clues left in place by a person just living his daily life 6,000 years ago!
I purchased this bowl of his which was made with Benzene clay – it was named after an ancient firing place – and a modern version of Hagi, a type of ancient Asian glaze. He said it takes 10 days to fire. They gradually raise the heat then keep it at 2100 (?) degrees for 3-4 days. It takes a week to cool enought to open the kiln. and it needs to be manned 24 hours a day 7 days a week so someone can add wood to the fire. The outside is unglazed, wood-fired bezene clay pottery, It is a rough dark orange-brown. This contrasts nicely with the interior hagi glaze which is silken and has the appearance of irridescence. It reminded me of an oyster shell. It also reminded me of myself: two completely different modes of thinking in one person: both sides beautiful in their own way. It also has Michael's signature slices cut off the sides which creates a polygonal shape outside, yet smooth curved inside... and the [MG] stamp.
He currently fires his work at Waubonsee College, but is applying for graduate school and is also entertaining an internship with a potter using the same techniques in Wisconsin. He doesn't have a website yet, but his work will be available for sale at the Waubonsee Holiday sale.
I could see the passion and energy when he spoke of this work. It was inspiring to see! I can't help but feel that I now have work from a future master potter!