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Boreal Community Media

Meet your Cook County neighbor: Introducing Mike Smieja

Jun 11, 2022 06:43AM ● By Editor
Submitted photos

A Boreal Community Media Exclusive - June 11, 2022

How did you land in Cook County?  

My family bought a place in Grand Marais 25+ years ago.  After my father passed away I took the place over from my mother.  

How did you get started in pottery?

I started taking pottery classes in high school.  I wanted to go on to college for pottery. My family convinced me that there wasn’t a future in being a potter.  So I went on to own 15+ businesses, got a bachelors in Marketing and Agriculture, a Masters in horticulture, then came back 13 or so years ago, and have been doing it ever since.  

Favorite music that you listen to while you are working?  

When I’m throwing I like to listen to the Grateful Dead,  when I’m trimming I like to listen to old school punk, and when I’m glazing I like to listen to classical.  

What is your most favorite piece of pottery that you have  created and why?

I have a woodfired bottle that I’ve always loved. It seemed perfect to me in the shape and the balance and the way the wood kiln did it’s job decorating it.  

What other hobbies do you have to relax when you are not  working

I collect outhouses. Small ones, not life size ones. I like to watch the Love Boat. I make hot sauce, apple butter, kimchi, and jams and jellies. 

What is the best road trip you have ever taken? 

For my senior capstone project Roscoe and I took a trip through Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin stopping at farms and talking to farmers.  

If your dog could speak, what three words would he use to describe you? 

Nuts, loving, and hungry.  

What is your biggest accomplishment so far in your life?

I’ve been sober for 18+ years. Without my sobriety, I would have nothing.  

Best advice you were ever given? 

I asked Dick Cooter, a potter from Two Harbors, what advice he had for a beginning potter. He told me “Mike, I don’t know. I decided that I was going to make pots I liked and hope that someone buys them.”  

If a customer wants to get a hold of you to purchase some of  your pottery, how should they reach you? 

Look up Grand Marais Pottery online, Instagram, or the Facebook. I’ll be selling pottery at the Broadway Art Park 6 Broadway in Downtown Grand Marais (next to the Beaver House) Thursdays through Saturdays and maybe more. 

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