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Pottery Thoughts

Handmade Pottery Gift Giving Guide

Handmade Pottery Gift Giving Guide

It might not seem like it, but the holidays are going to be here faster than you think. It’s a great idea to start thinking about what you’re going to get for your loved one, and our Door County pottery studio can think of no better gift to give than the gift of handmade pottery!

Unique and individual, the pieces from Ellison Bay Pottery Studios make for a perfect present. Learn more about the types of pottery we feature, and place your order or visit our Door County pottery studio today!

Baking Dishes

We all know that person who simply loves to cook. It’s a cathartic experience for them, they love trying new recipes, and making the same old comfort foods time and again. A handmade baking dish is the perfect gift for this exact person, and they will appreciate how original this gesture is. Not to mention, this form of artisan pottery is not only gorgeous, it’s functional! All of our pottery is oven, microwave, and dishwasher safe!


When you know someone moving into a new house or starting a new chapter in their life (such as getting married), they’re likely in need of some basic household items. But the thing is, anyone can get regular old bowls at Target or another department store. The bowls that you order from our Door County pottery studio are ones that are built to stand the tests of time, and are such an individual and personal gift. These will be the bowls that your loved one(s) think of fondly, with plenty of nostalgia, and you can order them with ease from our online store.


We all know that person who loves the quirky and eclectic parts of life, and for them, a goblet would be a perfect gift. Having something to sip on during “Game of Thrones” becomes infinitely more enjoyable when consumed out of an incredible piece of pottery. It’s an unexpected, but greatly appreciated gift — goblets are also great for religious or other ceremonies as well!


Practically everyone can appreciate the beauty of a handmade mug. From Ellison Bay Pottery Studios, you can expect gorgeous mugs in multiple shapes and designs, such as small and travel sizes. For the tea lover or the coffee fanatic, this is a gift that’s sure to spruce up every morning.


As we say frequently at our studio, “Life without art is simply not a life worth living.” Our artisan pottery prides itself on being functional, but sometimes you just need the function to be a beautiful and thought-provoking one. Our pottery vases, urns, and more are amazing gifts for the artsy person in your life, or the friend or family member who’s decorating a new space.

The holidays might be coming up, but truly, there’s never a bad time to order handmade pottery from Ellison Bay Pottery Studios! We put attention, care, and detail into every one of our handmade pieces, and we’re positive that you and your loved one will be thrilled with your purchase. Place your order today — the person you’re giving a gift to is about to be in for a wonderful surprise!

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Fall Activities In Door County, Part II

Fall Activities In Door County, Part II

Welcome back to our blog series on fun things to do in Door County this fall! Door County is a magical place with so many amazing activities all year round, but there’s something especially wondrous about a fall trip up to Wisconsin’s spectacular peninsula. The other-worldly colors, the crisp, cool air, a visit to Door County just can’t be beat.

Ellison Bay Pottery Studios has the handcrafted pottery that you’re sure to love, but we also have the inside scoop on places to check out in Door County. Stay tuned for some great fall activities, and stop by or shop online from Ellison Bay Pottery Studios today!

Bring Your A-Door-able Costumes

With the many Halloween-themed activities that happen in Door County, the end of October is an excellent time to visit — particularly for families with kids who love dressing up. Jack O’Lantern Days in Fish Creek is great for trick-or-treating, mask making, a costume contest, and even has live owls that kids can observe. Thrills on Third is another great Halloween opportunity, where Sturgeon Bay features activities such as pumpkin painting, walks through haunted houses, a costume parade, and slime making. Both of these events take place the weekend of October 26th.

Eat Everything

Apple pies and crisps, cherry cobblers, pumpkin muffins, fresh seafood — whether you’re checking out a farmers market or dining at an exceptional foodie restaurant (which are truly everywhere in Door County), there are infinite foods to enjoy and try while you’re on the peninsula. For some truly unique and delicious meals, try the cheese curd pizza at the Wild Tomato in Fish Creek, a whitefish kimchi BLT from Wickman House in Ellison Bay, or some Swedish fare at Al Johnson’s — and be sure to check the roof for some surprise guests!

Shop Around

One of everyone’s favorite things to do in Door County is to visit all the wonderfully quaint shops that dot the peninsula’s streets. From clothing and local food items (cherry jam and homemade cheese, to name a few) to handcrafted pottery, you simply can’t go wrong when you spend some time shopping in Door County. Park your car in one of the staple towns, such as Fish Creek, Ellison Bay, or Sister Bay, and stroll around while window- or actual shopping. Not only are you finding some excellent souvenirs for yourself, you’re supporting local businesses as well.

Watch a Pottery Demonstration

Ellison Bay Pottery Studios offers free demonstrations for visitors! Our handcrafted pottery is unique in many ways — each piece is handmade and individual, but also functional, and can hold food and liquids, as well as go in the dishwasher and microwave. You can witness first hand the process that goes into making our handcrafted pottery, and find incredible gifts to take back home with you. Whether for yourself or for a loved one, a piece of handmade pottery is a timeless and thoughtful souvenir.

We’re located at the very northernmost part of Door County, in beautiful Ellison Bay. Stop by our store or shop our online collections — we hope to see you and are thankful for your business!

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Fall Activities In Door County

Fall Activities In Door County

Something that every Wisconsinite (and many an Illinoisan) know is that there’s no better place to visit than Door County in the fall. The incredible colors of the deciduous forests, the striking landscape of rock and water, a trip to Door County is one of unparalleled beauty. There are so many reasons to come up to the peninsula all throughout autumn, which is why Ellison Bay Pottery Studios has compiled a list of the best activities for the season. Take a look at our list, and while you’re driving around, stop by our Door County pottery studio for demonstrations, gifts, and incredible artwork!

Take In Some Views

“Stunning” is about the only word that best describes Wisconsin’s scenic peninsula. In autumn, the vistas become even more mesmerizing. Drive up Northport Road for some winding fall views, all the way up the peninsula. Make sure you spend some time at Peninsula State Park in Fish Creek — on a warm day, renting bikes is ideal. Heading east towards the Lake Michigan side, you’ll see some wonderful beach views and one of the impressive Great Lakes, which will probably make you feel like you’re standing at the ocean instead of the edge of Wisconsin. These are just some ideas, but there’s not a bad view in sight when you’re traveling up through Door County.

Visit Washington Island

With ferry rides leaving every hour on the hour (from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.) from right here in Ellison Bay, you can traverse up to the beautiful Washington Island. Check out the hidden Stavkirke, an historic replica of a Scandinavian church, as well as Schoolhouse Beach, a pebble beach with crystalline water that’s sure to bring a sense of serenity to everyone who visits.

You’ll need to drive around on Washington Island, but it’s not a problem — cars can be driven onto and transported across the water!

See the Pumpkin Patch Festival

Just down the road from our Door County pottery studio in Egg Harbor is the annual Pumpkin Patch Festival, held this year on October 5th and 6th. With live music, food and drink tents, carnival rides, and games for every kid to enjoy, it’s guaranteed to be fall fun for the whole family. It’s a pretty busy weekend, so it’s recommended to get there earlier. View the schedule of events here.

In addition to the Pumpkin Patch Festival, there are tons of other fun fall festivals to check out in Door County each fall. The Apple Festival in Sister Bay, the Townline Art Fair in Ephraim, the Autumn Lighthouse Festival featured at the Maritime Museum — the list goes on and on!

Our next blog will cover even more incredible fall activities for you to enjoy. Door County is a magical place to visit, and you can make your trip even more special by stopping by Ellison Bay Pottery Studios. With demonstrations and ideal Door County pottery gifts that everyone will love, this is one stop you don’t want to miss on your trip. We look forward to seeing you, but if you can’t make it this time around, shop our collections online!

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Come to our Anniversary Party Sunday August 20

Summer in Door County is beautiful and this summer has been greener because of all the rain we've had and that means that the wild flowers filling fields are just a wild forest of color and texture-queen anne's lace, cornflowers, clover, flowering oregano, daisies, sweet peas, day lilies. The sun is hot and the air is cool and the afternoon is really only good for naps-every time the cicada sings I get sleepy (holdover from my childhood).

Of course, there is no napping here in our studio. John and I are working hard on our next firing. We're planning on opening the kiln right before our 43rd Anniversary Party August 20.

Don't miss our 3rd Annual Anniversary Celebration Sunday August 20 from 4pm - 7pm.  We'll be donating a portion of our sales that day to our local organization 'Door County Secret Santa' as we've done in the past.

We're looking forward to seeing everyone here on the 20th at 4pm.  It's going to be a lovely afternoon of friends, food and art

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Our May Shows - The 'Treasured Teapot' and 16th Ellison Bay Art Crawl

Our May Shows - The 'Treasured Teapot' and 16th Ellison Bay Art Crawl

Two in one-We've got two very special events going on this weekend!

Our Treasured Teapot Collection Show - with Tea provided by Tea Thyme of Sister Bay- is our first big event this weekend, and in fact the rest of this month.  (just not the special teas, though)

invitation to pottery teapot show in door county

This was a 'Teapot Winter'- John set aside several weeks to devote all his time to time consuming teapot constructing.  There are many, many parts and steps to making each teapot.  It was interesting to watch. Quietly.

images of potter making a teapot
Large teapots
handmade stoneware  copper red teapot
Small Teapots
handmade stoneware  blue teapot

And this weekend is ALSO the Ellison Bay Art Crawl.  For 16 years the artists of Ellison Bay open their studios, serve refreshments, offer studio tours and artist discussions, drawings for a piece of art, have demonstrations.  This gives you a chance to see and buy before the County gets full of art collectors. 

invitation to art crawl in ellison bay wi

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Fifty Muddy Years Cup Collection Flash Sale is OPEN

Fifty Muddy Years Cup Collection Flash Sale is OPEN

These one of a kind collaboration Tea Bowls are fun to make but we take them very seriously. John takes extreme care to make them with attention to detail.  He focuses on each one individually and really does think about the person who will eventually own this cup and use it every day.

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2017 Marks John Dietrich's 50 Years in Pottery

2017 Marks John Dietrich's 50 Years in Pottery

This year, as all we know, has been full of major changes and huge announcements that have rocked the world. We’ve got the biggest one of all to announce:

2017 Marks John T. Dietrich’s 50 Years in Pottery

John’s short story begins way back in 1966, the Dark Ages to some. While John was hanging out with friends in the pottery studio at the Peninsula School of Art in Fish Creek, a friend said ’You should try this, John’ meaning throw on the potters wheel. John threw a dog dish. He. Was. Hooked. What big changes can you look for?  You'll see them in the gallery, in our newsletter and blog and social media especially Instagram which is particularly good for images.  But first, more about John.  Without him and his hard work I'd have nothing to tell you.

After finishing college and a year in graduate school he knew he wanted to be a studio potter so in 1967 he talked to Abe Cohn, a Wisconsin master potter with a studio/gallery in both Milwaukee and Fish Creek about an assistant’s position. After 6 years with Abe and his wife Ginka he bought the property in Ellison Bay and started his own studio and gallery: Ellison Bay Pottery.

So for me, for us, here, this is a very important milestone. It’s wonderful to look at photos of the barn as it was and as it is today. John has wonderful stories of how it was to live in this big wooden tent with no well and no septic and no heat for three years. He worked hard to create the gallery and then studio in the first year so he could be in business as quickly as possible. His living quarters came last, but eventually everything was done. All the while he was working in his studio developing his skills, his ‘voice’, distinctive his style, his signature, his glazes. Surrounded by his various cats and dogs that made up his ‘Ellison Bay Pottery and Pet Farm’ he was often guided by those adorable creatures. This is Bibs giving John a should massage, or suggestions.

After all those years of creating a successful design and recognizable signature, we as artists are faced with choices: To continue down the safe road or venture off into the unknown. Stretching creative muscles isn’t easy and coasting on past successes is very, very easy. It’s also boring. No one wants to be bored, or boring!! So I’ll reveal a few new things we’ve been working this month.

Ikebana    Mug      Dish


John and I are in the middle of developing a new ikebana. It’s going to be completely hand-built. Look at these photos as a potter’s sketchbook. We expect to see changes. The first iteration will be fired and ready to show you soon and then we begin change it again! These photos are of green-ware: pottery that is just drying and not even close to what they will look like when completed. The mug has a new foot (that's what we call bottoms of things) and a different surface design. My square dishes are continuing to evolve. 

While we are committed to functional pottery that can be used every day, the need to make decorative ceramic art is deep.  John is working on a series, which he is currently calling his 'Planet' series which is beyond exciting to me.  These were shot in the studio, not very good lighting.  But their shapes don't need good lighting.







































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We're Looking for a Few Good Artists and Other Exciting News

We're Looking for a Few Good Artists and Other Exciting News

Good Morning!
A few exciting things are happening in sleepy Ellison Bay:

1. June is coming: Artists are invited to apply to the Ellison Bay Fine Arts and Fine Crafts Show which is part of Ellison Bay Days, sponsored by the Ellison Bay Service Club June 24 and 25. If you want an app, send me your email. If you know an artist, forward this post so they can contact me (I'm on the Art Show Committee).  If you're not an artist, plan on coming and enjoying!!

We're a small, very well attended event and our artists bring their very best work. On Saturday there's a Parade, a variety of music and food and a trolley to help people get around. On Sunday, there's the very popular Fireman's Pancake Breakfast, then Best Minster Dog Show with awards like Best Tail Wag and Highest Jump which keeps the weekend excitement going and of course, the ART. I promise more updates.
2. It's Brrr Cold: John needed something big enough to warm him up after walking the dogs this morning. This fabulous stein (Death's Door) can either be a hot chocolate, big coffee or tea mug that will warm up more than fingers after outdoor fun. Chill it for a beer later or do what I do-drink a breakfast smoothy from it.

Think out of the box, or goblet! Have you thought of sipping tea or orange juice from your elegant goblet (Door County Sky)? Along with drinking mulled wine with friends on the weekend, use your goblets as water glasses at dinner. There are no rules when it comes to food or pottery.
3. Process is Everything: Our ceramics are handmade with attention to every detail. Extreme care is taken with each step in the process.  For 50 years John has been devoting himself to making beautiful objects for you, the user.  BTW-John bought his potters wheel 44 years ago, which is before he started EBP 43 years ago. That's taking extreme care.

Ellison Bay Pottery tea bowl
4. Studio Time: Saturday John was working on tea bowls. I've included a video of John at the wheel making tea bowls for an up close and personal demonstration for you. So far I've used mine for tea, coffee, ice cream, wine, cereal, vodka, water, salsa and pencils.  I'm sure there are more uses. We call this glaze: Newport Park.

Thanks for reading and as always--Stay wonderful
Diane and John
Winter Hours TH,Fr,Sa 12-4

PS Call 920-854-5049 when you have a Pottery Emergency. What's a Pottery Emergency? Usually it's the the need for a last minute gift.
We can solve that one--Easy: These Baking Dishes are very popular. 
PPS We'll be in Madison Feb 11, 12 participating the in Madison Weavers Invitational Art Show at the Olbrich Garden.  We are thrilled to be included along with an amazing group of artists. I'll send you a reminder.
PPS We do leave the island. I'll post updates here and on our Facebook page. You can LIKE our page and follow us to stay in touch.

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January is Soup (Mug) Month

January is Soup (Mug) Month

One of the perks of winter is fun in the snow.

Taylor and I made a snowman last year. I'm waiting for the right kind of snowfall to do it again and for my 14 year old granddaughter forget how old she is and play with me.

We don't have to wait for the snow to fall to make chili or Irish Stew or chicken rice soup but it's so cozy to steam up the windows while there's wind and snow swirling around. 
John bought us a slow cooker cookbook for Christmas.  This chili recipe isn't from that book.  This one was inspired by a recipe I found on Pinterest with suggestions by our CCMJ-otherwise known as Chief Chili Maker John. His chili is the best, but he likes this one too. 
Slow Cooker Turkey Chili
1 pound Ground Turkey, fully cooked
1 can of Kidney Beans
1 can of Black Beans
1 can of Navy Beans
pick two cans or one..use what you like. 
Increase the meat, too if you want. 
Remember to increase the seasonings to your taste.
Tomato sauce, 28 oz
Petite diced tomatoes, 28oz
Yellow onion, 1 diced
1 clove garlic diced
Bell pepper, 1 large diced
Ancho Pepper 2 tsp
Chili powder, 2 tbsp
Cumin, 2 tsp
Oregano, 2 tsp
Salt, 2 tsp
Optional topping: Cheddar Cheese and sour cream and hot sauces
Add your fully cooked ground turkey to your slow cooker.
Add the rest and stir.
Cook on low for 8 hours or 4 hours on high.
Serve with rice or macaroni and/or
with shredded cheese and sour cream
and additional hot sauces and serve!
There's more to do outside during the winter than make snowmen. I take photos!
I like to make soups and stews on the stove.  I like to let them simmer and check on them occasionally, stirring them, tasting them, adding to them.  But I'm ready to try this recipe for Irish Beef Stew in the slow cooker if only because I'm always looking for something delicious and easy.  I think I liked cooking more when I was younger with a younger family.  I am still used to cooking for 6 or 8 people and doubling that for leftovers, so there's always enough for days.  That's THE best.  This one is also inspired by the new cookbook and Pinterest, and tweaked by all the years of eating stews.  We have been eating gluten free for over 20 years so I have changed a few things. 
Irish Beef Stew
wash the carrots and potatoes carefully-you don't have to peel them-or peel them-up to you
1 pound carrots cut into equal chunks
1 pound waxy potatoes cut into equal chunks
1 pound floury potatoes cut into equal chunks
1 TBS oil
1 pound beef stew meat
1 large onion diced
2 garlic cloves diced
1 large celery stalk diced
4 C beef broth
OR 3 C beef stock and 1 C Guinness Stout
1 sprig thyme
1 sprig rosemary
3 bay leaves
    To finish

    1 tablespoon cornstarch stirred into a little bit of cold water to make a slurry When making the slurry, stir cornstarch into cold water until it has the consistency of cream. This can be set aside until it's needed, but be sure to stir it briefly before you pour it into the sauce to redistribute the starch granules in the water. You should pour it into your stew toward the end of its preparation.


    1. Place the carrots and potatoes in a 4-6 quart slow cooker.
    2. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Brown meat on all sides, then transfer to the slow cooker on top of the vegetables.
    3. Add the onion and celery to the skillet and cook over medium heat until softened. Pour in the beef broth and add the thyme sprig and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and simmer for two minutes. Taste test and add salt and pepper to your liking.
    4. Pour the hot broth over the contents of the slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW for 8-10 hours or on HIGH for 4-5 hours.
    5. Minutes before serving, stir in the cornstarch slurry and finish cooking.
    6. Serve hot with a big hunk of Irish soda bread!

    Eating leftovers is easy too.  Fill the mugs up, cover the top with waxed paper and microwave the soup or stew.  The handle stays cool enough to touch, unless you're like John and you want your lunch to be HOT.  Leftovers and these soup mugs are definitely a winter PERK for me. 


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      Pottery Studio Lessons: "Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep." Scott Adams

      Pottery Studio Lessons: "Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep." Scott Adams

         We're in the middle of glazing, which is the perfect time to dream about what we're going to do next.  John has made all the glazes he wants to test in this firing.  I've still got to decide which glazes to use. The fun comes when we start talking about what we'll do after this firing: what we'll make and what we wish we would make. Glazing isn't a horrible part of the pottery making process, just a time consuming part. Most of our art designs were done on greenware so there are just a few creative decisions left.
      Which glaze goes on what pot and whether we want more and more or less and less. It's a focused and detail driven process.  But once those decisions get made and we've written ourselves notes (essential!) then the hard work of being on our feet for hours begins and so does dreaming.
      Kiln furniture is for pottery.
      Then, there's the moving furniture stuff that is all John's job.  The kiln is outside and today it's not so cold, so I'll be running cups of hot tea out once in a while.
      Above is kiln furniture--which holds kiln shelves up.  Each firing has different shapes and sizes of pots so he builds the shelves as he goes.  Kinda like using those cool bricks and blocks of our childhood.  He records everything he does. 
      We joke that it's almost like Christmas here when we open the kiln, but it's better than that.  It represents 8 weeks of work and many answers to so many questions.  And that exhilaration energizes us to clean everything up and do it again.  

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