"I use to work for HaloSource at the Port of Willapa Harbor. When they moved I went with them but shortly returned to the Harbor," said Van Ornum.
First taking clay from the earth, Van Ornum gathered native clay samples from the surrounding forest and streams.
"I have always been interested in pottery and have been playing with it for many years. But in the last five years I have really started intensely putting forth the effort to one day have this as my sole business."
Working native clay into Pinch-Pots and firing them by campfire, Van Ornum started experimenting with the clays, glazes and looking to see just what he could create from the native earth.
Now a more traditional potter making everyday household items on a wheel, soup and coffee mugs seem to be the most popular in the local market. And blue it the most requested color.
"I am not sure why, but everybody seems to like blue pottery."
Van Ornum keeps a shelf of his earlier works in his home studio to remind him of different color schemes that he has created and techniques that he looks to incorporate now working with commercial clay.
He has created several custom pots for plants some that start with 20-pounds of clay and stretch 18 inches in diameter. But for the most part he concentrates on building up his inventory to fill the several locations that house his pottery and he is starting to get more calls for his work.
Locally you can find Shoalwater Pottery at the Dungerness Seafood Company along with other local craftsmen, and he has items at Elixir Coffee, Tea and Flowers for almost a year.
"The local support has been great for me, as I have only really been doing this for a few years, this is a great place to create a business."
With no real formal training, Van Ornum speaks of his self taught method working the clay and doing a lot of trial and error before he gets a form that he likes to put out for the public.
"I learn a lot from books and talking with other potters and of course trail and error. I do take my items to shows all the way up to Seattle, and a few other places right now, but look to expand in the next few years."
Van Ornum also takes many items from nature to help in the creation of some of his other items like candle holders or soap dishes.
"I take things like leaves, flowers or branches and work them into the piece to make a relief."
Making an interesting pattern in his work, Van Ornum is always on the look out for other pieces of nature to help inspire his work.
And the results of which make a very fine detailed and unique piece. With no two items exactly alike, as each is hand thrown, he does make full sets of dinnerware. All items are microwave and oven safe, as well as all glazes are non-toxic and lead free.
"I make a whole range of functional pottery items."
From water pitchers to small cups and bowls, Shoalwater Pottery is worth a look if you are in the market for handcrafted clay items for your home.