Michael Schwartz ~ Pit-fired Pottery

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Artist Biography

First, each piece is carefully thrown on the potter's wheel. When leather hard, it is trimmed and burnished to a soft luster with a smooth stone.

After leather hard gives way to bone dry, the work is kiln fired to 1800F. The heat increases the clay's strength but leaves it porous enough to accept color into its body. Some areas of the now cooled form are covered with copper or steel mesh and then the entire piece is sprayed with copper and rock salts.

The pot is then buried in sawdust in a pit, set ablaze and left to smolder overnight, as was (and still is) done by Indians in the American Southwest.

The next day is a cross between gift opening and archeology when I see what has come from the ground. The pots and bowls are washed, allowed to dry, then rubbed with wax to return the burnished surface's satiny sheen.

What you see before you is due to the interaction of fire and smoke on salts and metals. No glaze has been used. Each piece is one of a kind...a work of art with its blacks, grays, greens, reds and an occasional small chip or crack. This work is not meant to be eaten from and because of its porous nature will not hold water. It's purpose is to feed the eye and the spirit!

Mike is a retired psychiatrist whose motto now is, "May all your crackpots be made of clay only".

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in Old Town Florence, Oregon


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