Though Michael Schweggman has made pots for years as my sole income, he has always first considered the work he make as sculptures, even when they are “obviously” pots. This is to say, Schweggman is primarily concerned with his work having the right balance of form and surface, the attention to detail that an artist brings to his work. If it is a piece of pottery, it needs to meet the obvious conditions of “use”, but Schweggman also wants it to function as a presence of grace and mastery.
Schweggman believes that the function of something he makes is not complete if it meets only what we consider the baseline of hands-on use. For example, a plastic milk jug pours perfectly, is lightweight, you can see how much is left without picking it up, it will not break when you drop it, it is cheap, it takes up little space in the recycle bin or trash heap. In many ways it is superior to a ceramic jug. So why make a ceramic jug if the plastic one is superior?
There is not a difference between good sculpture and good pottery, but in his time making a living selling art pottery, Schweggman knows that most people think of pots and sculpture as two different things. Often times this is the case--we can say there are bad sculptures and bad pots. Another complication is that many United States audiences have been raised to associate “pottery” with “common knick-knack”, “grandma’s painted figurines”, or “brown, heavy, and ugly”. When one says “pottery”, many people are expecting the exact opposite of the kinds of things Schweggman makes. So often the response he hears when people come into his shop, “I wasn’t expecting this!” He has always worked to improve his design and craftsmanship, to go beyond the basics. Schweggman's intent has been to make good sculptures, good pots.
Shop more of Michael Schwegmann's work in our Cup Shop
6858 Paoli Road • Paoli, Wisconsin 53508 • 608-845-6600 • Located just southwest of Madison