Michael Cole, a resident of Mahopac since 1997, has taught wheel throwing in Putnam and Westchester counties and has taken workshops with such inspirational potter/ceramicists as Deb Lecce, Steven Hill, Jon Townley and Simon Leach. Michael has been invited to show his work at The Peekskill Clay Factory and The Putnam Arts Council, where he received a body-of-work award for his functional pottery.
A “Recovering Actor” (having performed in musical theatre productions in New York and across the country), Michael makes his living as personal assistant to Stephen Schwartz, composer and lyricist of the Broadway shows GODSPELL, PIPPIN and WICKED. Mr. Cole’s singing voice can be heard on the soundtracks of the DreamWorks animated feature Prince of Egypt, the Wonderful World of Disney television special Geppetto and Disney’s live-action feature Enchanted.
Michael is married to actor Steven Skybell, and has been known to water-ski on Mahopac Lake and walk around town with their two Australian Shepherds, Caleb and Mackenzie.
Mastercraft_Ceramics on Instagram
Throughout my life I have been drawn to activities that involve creating with my hands. I’ve learned macramé, crochet, knitting, cake decorating, finish carpentry, tiling, cooking, baking, set construction, sewing and more. I enjoyed the process of learning these skills and often enjoyed the results, but when I put my hands on a wet lump of claying spinning on a potter’s wheel, I found a new passion. My love for pottery and the world of ceramics began here at the Putnam Arts Council in 2011, when after decades of procrastinating, I finally signed up for a pottery class, which was taught by the late Maaike Hoekstra.
One of the things I find so wonderful about ceramics is that there are so many different “lanes” to try, for example: raku, wood-firing, soda firing, porcelain, stoneware, functional pots vs. sculptural works, wheel throwing vs. hand-building, jewelry, beads, and on and on… I have explored many of these different aspects of ceramics and find all of it endlessly interesting.
I have been wanting to learn the process of mixing glazes from scratch instead of using commercial glazes (think baking a cake from scratch vs. buying a box mix) and this is where I find myself on my clay journey today. The images I’m sharing here are a representation of some of my tests and some finished work featuring these new glazes. It is a labor-intensive process that requires much testing, note keeping and problem solving.
Now that I have some glazes that I’m happy with and as I learn how they behave, I am also beginning to explore new shapes and gestures in my work that will correlate with these new glazes. Very recently I have been challenged by my mentor Jon Townley to try and bring a unified “shape language” into each piece I make, which has been a delightfully challenging and hugely rewarding exploration.
My pottery studio is my happy place. I never want this love affair to end.
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