A quite monumental cylinder vase of heavy stoneware clay, this piece by Karl Spörck (1949-) of Brisling Pottery in Suttons Bay, Michigan is an exceptional accomplishment by this well-known artist. Done in shades of grey, there are three-petal, iron grey stylized flowers incised into the clay and arranged in eight vertical rows of three flowers each, all evenly spaced. They are matte finished and set against a glossy, pale grey ground, heavily speckled and spotted. At the top is a thick dark grey rim, while the base is banded in a 2 inch wide band in the same color; both of those are matte finished. The inside is glazed in the lightest of greys and Spörck's finger marks are evident inside and out.
There is so much to delight us on the bottom of the vase. On large pieces like this one, Spörck was able to inscribe into the wet clay not only his signature but sometimes a full date and a bit of information about the day. Here are his notations on this one: April 7 K. Spörck Record setting warm weather. 84 ° and sun today steelhead fishing tonight. 1991
He also painted on his cypher mark, shown in one of our photos. It is composed of the letter "K" with the lower leg curled into an "S." This mark has been turned on its side and mistakenly taken for "J.T." and even the pi symbol in several references online. It's helpful to see it on the same piece as Spörck's signature.
This vase stands about 12 inches tall, with a top circumference of 18 inches and a bottom one of 24 1/2 inches. The mouth is 6 inches across, the base 7 1/4 inches across, it weighs a substantial 6 3/4 pounds and is in excellent condition.
There is much information on the web about this potter, so we'll keep it brief. He was also a professor at Northwestern Michigan University, where he earned his degrees and the 2006 Adjunct Faculty Excellence Award. He established his studio in 1976 on the Leelanau Peninsula "on a good road" and named it Brisling Pottery. (Brisling are small sardines harvested off the coast of Norway, where Spörck's family had its roots.) His sales building was a tiny, cedar shake building, where you purchased his pottery on the honor system. We've included a photo of that shop, alongside an old photo showing his potting wheel and the entrance to his kiln. He's retired from potting now, so his existing pieces are more prized than ever.
This link takes to a charming story about Karl Spörck we thought you might enjoy (we did):