An Original Craftsman

Attorney Spotlight: Noel Benedict
By: Carole Korn

Noel Benedict’s law office has the feel of an art gallery. It’s decorated with whimsical animal teapots, mugs with faces on them, and pottery adorned with loads of frogs. The artist: Noel himself. While in law school at the University of Georgia , a potter he knew gave him a lump of clay, and says Noel, “It just felt right. Ask any potter and that’s what they’ll say.”

He played around with clay on his own for about six years before beginning classes at Chastain Arts Center. His first pieces were little creatures that could hold your toothbrush. While he’s been practicing law for thirty years, he’s simultaneously gained expertise as a potter. Over the years he graduated from toothbrush holders to more intricate pieces. The work is tedious and time consuming, but it’s obvious Noel has a great love, and talent, for art. His work is impressive: he’s sold pieces to individuals, as well as to art galleries. He currently works on his wheel at home in his basement.

potteryBut Noel’s talent isn’t confined to clay. He crafts all kinds of jewelry too. He hand-draws designs such as lizards, sharks, rabbits, and snakes. He works with silver, gold, and various stones. “My wife, LaDonna, was doing metal smithing and she got me into it,” says Noel. Noel is a gem junky, and admits to having a huge stone collection. He’s building up an inventory of earrings, bracelets, rings, and pendants, which he plans to sell at various venues in the south. If you’re in the market for one of his creations, most go for about $60.00 to $120.00. Noel, a civil litigator, practices law full time. Still, he manages to devote 7-10 hours a week to the arts.

Before he became quite the artist, Noel’s curiosity and zeal for life took him into the darkness of caves. He started repelling into the rocky underground when he was twentyseven. The adventure could be quite dangerous though, moving through small areas, sometimes with little oxygen. Noel even appeared in a documentary about a cave, “Run to the Mill,” north of Chattanooga. Because of his exploring efforts, his name appears on a couple of maps. After his son was born ten years later, Noel decided to give up the perilous sport.

Son Clay (Noel insists he’s not named for dirt but a relative instead), is currently a freshman at Georgia Tech. Once Clay graduates, Noel has a goal for himself. “I’d like
to spend 3-4 days a week in my home in Franklin, North Carolina.” You see, as fate would have it, Noel bought that house from a potter. It’s fully equipped with a pottery
studio where Noel can create to his heart’s content.