Born in 1899 in Helsinki, Finland, Maija Grotell attended the University of Art and Design Helsinki where she completed six years of graduate work training in European methods of ceramic production, especially the potter’s wheel. American potter’s preferred coiling, slip casting and slab building techniques. Upon arriving in the United States, Grotell worked with Charles Fergus Binns at Alfred University. Binns and Grotell clashed over educational training and ceramic construction methods. Grotell, along with Marguerite Wildenhain and Gertrud Natzler, is among a key contingent of European émigré women who disseminated wheel thrown techniques to American students in the United States. Hired by the Cranbrook Academy of Art outside of Detroit, Michigan, Grotell ran the ceramics program from 1938 through 1966, Howard Kottler and Toshiko Takaezu were amongst her students.