From The Ground Up Pottery
Seagrove Pre-Conference Artist
Michael Mahan fires for the effects of natural wood ash and flashing in his Manabigama, a cross-draft kiln designed by potters Bill Van Gilder and John Theis. His firing methods vary as he and his son have spent considerable time trying different ways of firing and cooling, using a wide variety of clay and local materials. Mahan built his first wood-fired kiln in 2009. He built a second kiln of similar style in Ireland in 2013, where he and his Irish wife Mary Holmes spend their summer every year. Michael has been making pottery since the early 1980s.
Michael was born in Miami, Florida, where he lived until he moved to Waxhaw, NC, in 1974, to live with his father. In 1977, he went to NC State University and studied writing and editing, working for the school newspaper and later for two small-town newspapers in Monroe and Asheboro, NC. It was while working as an intern at the Enquirer-Journal in Monroe that he developed an interest in pottery after doing a story on a potter there.
A couple of years later, Michael moved to Asheboro to work as a reporter for The Courier-Tribune. He discovered Seagrove, a small community 15 miles south of Asheboro where about a dozen potters lived and created functional pottery. He met his first wife, Jane Braswell, at the paper and they decided to open up their own pottery shop after attending production pottery classes at Montgomery Community College in Troy, NC. They called the shop Wild Rose Pottery and raised three children there while making decorative functional pots fired in an electric kiln.
Michael’s son Levi now operates a pottery shop at what was formerly Wild Rose Pottery.
Levi Mahan grew up in Seagrove, North Carolina at Wild Rose Pottery, run by his parents. Since 2009, he has worked for and learned from his dad at From the Ground up Pottery. Levi has assisted with wood kiln building, loading, and firing for potters across North Carolina. He fires with wood while focusing on incorporating local materials whenever possible.