Michael, 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 (Tevye in Yiddish Fiddler on the Roof), and has been known to waterski on Mahopac Lake and walk around town with their two Australian Shepeherds, Caleb and Mackenzie.
Throughout my life I have been drawn to activities that involve creating with my hands. I’ve learned macrame, 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 affair with pottery and the world of ceramics began in 2011, when after decades of procrastinating, I finally signed up for a pottery class.
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 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. 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. This exploration has been a delightfully challenging and hugely rewarding. I never want this love affair to end.