|ABOUT THE PROCESS
|process PROCESS THE PROCESS
|MALGOSIA NOWAKOWSKI produces a unique collection of handcrafted raku and stoneware pottery.
Each piece is one-of-a-kind and has an original design. Some pieces are thrown on a potter’s wheel while
others are hand built with coils, slabs and extruded pieces of clay. It is a long journey from a lump of clay to
the finished piece at your home.
First, the potter wedges or kneads the clay to remove any air bubbles and to insure that the consistency is
uniform throughout. Then the wet clay is either formed on the wheel into a various shapes or hand–built.
Malgosia likes to combine coils and slabs in her work. She usually makes a texture to add some character to
each piece. Embossments are made from stamps that are hand carved from clay then fired and impressed
into wet clay. She also likes to add an illusion of movement to the piece – especially to the boxes – she
makes them dance.
The finished piece is allowed to dry to the leather hard stage. Then it is trimmed and various types of
decoration may be applied. The piece is now set aside to dry completely.
Unless the pot goes through the fire, it remains fragile, easily broken, and of little use. Every piece goes
through two firings and every firing is a transformation. During the first firing, the temperature of the
greenware (unfired clay) is slowly raised to the desired temperature and all the remaining water is driven off.
The bisqueware which emerges from the first firing is less fragile than unfired clay, but is still relatively
unusable until glaze is applied and the piece is fired a second time. After the pot is bisqued, Malgosia applies
glazes. For raku firing each piece is painted free hand with a brush giving spontaneous life to each piece. For
high fire she usually applies the glazes by dipping and pouring or adding some oxide decorations.
The second firing can be either raku, high fire or horsehair.
Raku is a method of firing pottery based on a sixteenth century Japanese technique. The process entails
opening the kiln when red hot and quickly lifting the pots out with long metal tongs. Americans took this
process further by placing the hot pieces into what is called “reduction atmosphere” using a metal container
with combustible materials like sawdust, leaves, pine needles or newspapers. The porous clay body then
captures the smoke, and the glazes react by creating beautiful luster or unique crackle patterns making a
one-of-a-kind art piece. The Raku process leaves the pieces porous and should be considered decorative –
not for functional use for food.
HIGH FIRE STONEWARE
High fire stoneware has been fired to 2300 degrees Fahrenheit in a gas kiln, vitrifying clay to create a strong
and durable finished product. Stoneware pots are functional, waterproof and they can be used in a
dishwasher or microwave.
Horsehair pottery is made from a white stoneware clay that has been bisque fired to a lower than usual
temperature. This leaves the fired clay body quite porous, enabling it to absorb the carbon from burning
hair. Later, the bisque is warmed up in the kiln to about 1300 degrees Fahrenheit. When it is removed,
individual strands of horsehair, preferably from the tail, are laid against the hot surface. If the temperature
on the surface of the piece is just right, the hair will attach to the pot, shrivel up, and begin to burn. As the
ash forms, a small deposit of carbon and smoke is absorbed into the clay surface, leaving a permanent trace
of the horsehair. As the temperature falls below 900 degrees Fahrenheit, the pot will no longer accept the
hair, and the process is over.
The purpose of the piece that Malgosia is working on determines the firing technique that is going to be used.
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