Michael lives and maintains a studio and wood kiln in Portland, Ontario. He is constantly expanding his vision of the art of ceramics by seeking out and developing new techniques.
When examining work from a thousand years ago he looks for small fingerprints. He sees how a person held the pot, how the maker left his body in the clay and this gives him a connection to that person, their process, and the ancient joy that comes from the act of creating.
For Michael the processes of using the material ‘freezes’ a moment. Thus his works are like bookmarks – or frozen moments. His use of material supports living in the moment, and pushes the technical limits of the medium. The result is a form, a single piece, but in fact is really a continuum of creation. The work symbolizes life forces. His work combines an artistic experience with a rugged functionality.
Michael is still exploring his childhood love of the Natural World, taking his influence from the waterways and rocks of his rural surroundings.
What is Wood-firing?
In Asia about 3500 years ago, kilns were built that could fire to 1300⁰C fueled by wood. Michael built such a kiln at his Portland, Ontario pottery studio.
When achieving this extreme temperature, the combusted wood ash fills the kiln atmosphere and coats the interior chamber (and the pottery it contains) in unpredictable ways. The ash is fused to the clay body by the high temperature flames which curl in and around the pots. As the kiln cools, the ash deposits form a glazed surface. The pots sometimes fuse to the kiln shelves – frozen in place by the melted fly ash – and have to be ground to remove sharp edges. Small mars, glaze imperfections and variations in colour are all results of the process and cannot be replicated in other firing methods. Surface qualities that are unwanted in commercially mass-produced pottery are typical and prized in wood-firing. The wood-fired aesthetic enhances evidence of the fiery process.