Michael and Naomi collaborate in making wood-fired utilitarian pottery. Although they make and glaze the pottery together, individually, Naomi makes the figurative sculptures, and Michael makes the large jars. Michael got hooked on clay in high school, and became a student at Penland School of Craft shortly after graduating. It was there that he met Will Ruggles and Douglas Rankin who became teachers and mentors to him. Several years later he was invited to go to Korea to learn the traditional method of making large Ongii storage jars with master Ongii potter Oh Hyang Jong.
Naomi began making pottery with her grandmother as a child. She studied clay at Earlham College with Mike Theideman, a former apprentice of Warren MacKenzie. She spent a semester studying with Mexican potters and began making pottery and sculpture inspired by pre-colombian and Japanese Haniwa figures. After college, Naomi came to Penland to take a kiln building class and met Michael, who was building a kiln at his studio. Michael and Naomi discovered they shared a similar passion and approach to making pottery. Now they work together as full time potters, firing their kiln four times a year, and occasionally teaching workshops. They exhibit their work nationally.
“We make our pots using primarily coarse, impure local materials. Our pots are thrown on a slow turning Korean-style kick wheel, and the large jars are made using a traditional Korean paddle and anvil technique. We then fire in a large, Thai-shaped, wood-burning kiln which is a modification of traditional kilns from Thailand. The pots are loaded through the door in the front of the kiln, which is then bricked up for the firing. The kiln is continually stoked with wood for thirteen to sixteen hours until the pots are 2350 degrees Fahrenheit and the glazes have melted. After cooling for about two days we can unload the pots, which is always exciting because each firing is a little different. The wood ash from the kiln lands on the pots and creates subtle variation in the clay and glazes. The varying atmosphere from reduced (or “smoky”) to oxidized (or \"clean burning\") also has a powerful effect. Through this collaboration with powerful materials and processes, we hope to create an environment in which pots can be born with a beauty beyond what is possible with our own hands.”