How Potter Michelle Dziadkowicz Found Her Voice In Clay
Behind every handmade ceramic lies a story, a tale of inspiration, experimentation, patience, and the maker. Ceramic artist Michelle Dziadkowicz's story reaches back two decades to her first experience with the wheel, a moment that sparked a lifelong love for the art of clay and evolved into teaching it professionally in Huntington Beach.
The Seal Beach local popped into our pop-up shop late last year, and within minutes we were collaborating on featuring her beautiful wheel-thrown stoneware. Earthy glazes, artfully carved nature designs, and expertly trimmed feet all define her work, and we're honored to be featuring her one-of-a-kind pieces in our online marketplace.
We asked Michelle a few questions about her craft to get "the story behind the storefront."
Main & PCH: Sum up your life story in three sentences.
Michelle Dziadkowicz: When I attended the Rhode Island School of Design as an art student, I discovered my passion for clay. Each day, I wake up excited to teach my ceramics students new ideas and techniques, and to share my love of clay with them. Every spare moment that I have, I try to use to create my one-of-a-kind wheel-thrown pottery.
Describe the "5 Ws" that led to you being a maker.
I have always had a love of the "handmade," especially ceramics. About 20 years ago, I took my first wheel-pottery class at RISD in Providence, Rhode Island, and after many struggles with learning to center clay, I started to really enjoy throwing as my main technique. After I moved to California, I started to take many workshops from a variety of ceramic artists and potters, and began to find my voice in clay.
What makes your goods unique?
I love the way that clay can be given dimension and texture through the use of tools. I have always been inspired by color and pattern, and I try to create a new design each time that I sit down at my pottery wheel.
Where do you currently live, and where are you from?
I was born and raised in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, and moved to California in the summer of 2001. I have lived in the Seal Beach area for the past 10 years.
Detail your creative process.
My work is wheel-thrown, one-of-a-kind pottery that I make myself. I sit down at my wheel, throw a bowl using terra-cotta clay, and brush a porcelain slip on the inside surface of the bowl. After the slip dries, I choose from a variety of carving tools to create the design inside of each bowl. When the bowl dries, I turn it upside down and trim a foot on the bottom of the bowl. Once the bowl is bisque-fired, I choose a transparent colored glaze to coat the surface of the bowl. The completed glaze-fired piece comes out with a stunning contrast of carved lines in the clay body.
What/who inspires you?
I am inspired by multiple things...the beautiful patterns that can be found in nature, the colors and designs used in woven textiles, and my travels to different places. I am also inspired by my circle of creative friends, who work in a variety of different media.
Why do you love Huntington Beach, aside from the weather and waves?
I love the laid-back, beach city culture of Huntington Beach and the variety of artists and crafts people that live and/or work there. There is a very bohemian feel about Huntington Beach that I seem to fit right into.
Where would you like to see your business in the next few years?
I have grown my business to the extent that I am making connections with shops and galleries and people are getting to know my work in the area. I have started this venture as a part-time business, but would love for it to become full-time in the next few years. In addition to teaching ceramics full-time at Marina High School in Huntington Beach, I teach private wheel-pottery and hand-building classes in clay for kids and adults at my own studio and at a ceramics studio up in Los Angeles called Full-Circle Pottery.
What's your motto?
"Love Your Life." It's so important to love what you do!
Is there anything else you really want readers to know about you, your story, and/or your goods?
I can make special order items. You can contact me with a special request for color and/or design.
Follow Michelle Dziadkowicz on Facebook.
Michelle Dziadkowicz is a featured maker in the Main & PCH Marketplace. Shop her creations.