Approach

How do I approach my making?

As I settle myself on my wheel, ready for a morning’s throwing, I often feel a deep sense of coming home, of coming back to myself, of being where I should be. As I bring my attention to this moment, my hands and my body know the pressure, the movements and the gestures necessary for making the form I have in mind. I try to be economical with my movements, not overworking the pot but seeking to bring a freshness and aliveness to each pot I make. Often, I am returning to a form made many times before, but each time there will be some adjustment, something I have reconsidered, a new interpretation. Making pots in series and repeating known forms is a practise that I enjoy and find endlessly engaging.

About the pots

I enjoy making a wide range of pots which respond imaginatively to our needs in the kitchen. The flames in a wood kiln are slow and gentle and seem to impart some of these qualities to the fired pots, maybe quiet in tone but revealing themselves over time. While each pot can be enjoyed individually, they are made to be used daily. Fired to a high stoneware temperature they are strong and highly durable. I have always wood fired and salt glazed my work. The process is challenging. The weather, the wood and the energy of the firers all have an effect and contribute to the finished pot, making each piece unique. Firing with wood means working with the kiln, getting to know it, understanding when it is hungry for fuel and when it is needing to breathe. The pots that emerge are rarely exactly as I envisaged them, but rather are the result of the particular journey of each firing.

Biography

Travelling in India in 1968, I came across and loved the earthenware pots used for everything and to be seen everywhere. The clay fired to a deep terracotta red, the same colour as the earth it was made from, and the connection between the earth and the pots was made. The first time I sat on a wheel, was when I was invited by Gurcharan Singh of Delhi Blue Potteries to have a go on his Leach wheel. I enclosed the clay in my hands and knew then, that this was the path I wanted to take. I returned briefly to Sussex University, but soon left determined to find a way to become a potter. Needing to get experience, I found work with Gratten Freyer at Terrybaun Pottery in Ireland, learning to make slip trailed earthenware and was then lucky enough to get a place on the Studio Pottery Course at Harrow College of Art, in London, run by Mick Casson and Victor Margrie, 1970-72. There I was taught by many practicing potters including Walter Keeler and Mo Jupp, encouraged by Gwyn Hansen and inspired by John Reeves. My first experience of making and firing with wood and salt glazing was after the first year at Harrow, spending a summer with Gustave Tiffoche, in Guerande, France. On my return to college along with a couple of other women students I built my first wood-salt kiln. Leaving college I returned to work with Gustave and then for a spell to Breda in Spain, where I worked in a traditional pottery, making wood fired earthenware.

In 1975 I moved to Bentham, North Yorkshire, and set up my pottery making wood fired salt glaze tableware under the name of Micky Doherty. After the birth of my two sons, Ciuin and Jo, I continued to work and reverted to my maiden name of Micki Schloessingk. Since 1987 I have been making pots on the Gower Peninsula in South Wales. I have continued to be committed to making and exhibiting my wood fired salt glazed tableware.

Over the years, many young potters have come here, learning about wood firing and salt glazing, sharing the studio and kiln. For three years, Fleen Doran worked with me, initially supported by Adopt a Potter. Currently Chris Jenkins is assisting and learning with me. I continue to explore and experiment and remain as committed as ever to my life as a potter.

Approach

How do I approach my making?

As I settle myself on my wheel, ready for a morning’s throwing, I often feel a deep sense of coming home, of coming back to myself, of being where I should be. As I bring my attention to this moment, my hands and my body know the pressure, the movements and the gestures necessary for making the form I have in mind. I try to be economical with my movements, not overworking the pot but seeking to bring a freshness and aliveness to each pot I make. Often, I am returning to a form made many times before, but each time there will be some adjustment, something I have reconsidered, a new interpretation. Making pots in series and repeating known forms is a practise that I enjoy and find endlessly engaging.

About the pots

I enjoy making a wide range of pots which respond imaginatively to our needs in the kitchen. The flames in a wood kiln are slow and gentle and seem to impart some of these qualities to the fired pots, maybe quiet in tone but revealing themselves over time. While each pot can be enjoyed individually, they are made to be used daily. Fired to a high stoneware temperature they are strong and highly durable. I have always wood fired and salt glazed my work. The process is challenging. The weather, the wood and the energy of the firers all have an effect and contribute to the finished pot, making each piece unique. Firing with wood means working with the kiln, getting to know it, understanding when it is hungry for fuel and when it is needing to breathe. The pots that emerge are rarely exactly as I envisaged them, but rather are the result of the particular journey of each firing.

Biography

Travelling in India in 1968, I came across and loved the earthenware pots used for everything and to be seen everywhere. The clay fired to a deep terracotta red, the same colour as the earth it was made from, and the connection between the earth and the pots was made. The first time I sat on a wheel, was when I was invited by Gurcharan Singh of Delhi Blue Potteries to have a go on his Leach wheel. I enclosed the clay in my hands and knew then, that this was the path I wanted to take. I returned briefly to Sussex University, but soon left determined to find a way to become a potter. Needing to get experience, I found work with Gratten Freyer at Terrybaun Pottery in Ireland, learning to make slip trailed earthenware and was then lucky enough to get a place on the Studio Pottery Course at Harrow College of Art, in London, run by Mick Casson and Victor Margrie, 1970-72. There I was taught by many practicing potters including Walter Keeler and Mo Jupp, encouraged by Gwyn Hansen and inspired by John Reeves. My first experience of making and firing with wood and salt glazing was after the first year at Harrow, spending a summer with Gustave Tiffoche, in Guerande, France. On my return to college along with a couple of other women students I built my first wood-salt kiln. Leaving college I returned to work with Gustave and then for a spell to Breda in Spain, where I worked in a traditional pottery, making wood fired earthenware.

In 1975 I moved to Bentham, North Yorkshire, and set up my pottery making wood fired salt glaze tableware under the name of Micky Doherty. After the birth of my two sons, Ciuin and Jo, I continued to work and reverted to my maiden name of Micki Schloessingk. Since 1987 I have been making pots on the Gower Peninsula in South Wales. I have continued to be committed to making and exhibiting my wood fired salt glazed tableware.

Over the years, many young potters have come here, learning about wood firing and salt glazing, sharing the studio and kiln. For three years, Fleen Doran worked with me, initially supported by Adopt a Potter. Currently Chris Jenkins is assisting and learning with me. I continue to explore and experiment and remain as committed as ever to my life as a potter.

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