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Pottery Thoughts

Nature and Our Ceramics

Our ceramics are inspired by the stunning natural beauty of Door County, the southern part of the amazing Niagara Escarpment.

The arbor vitae cling to the cliffs and fill the air with it’s tenacious aromas, the fresh air off Lake Michigan and Green Bay lift spirits, the clear water and skies expand hearts and minds of all who visit.


It’s impossible to not be inspired. Our shapes, images and glazes reference the lakes, cliffs, forests, beaches, and weather in each piece of functional art we make.

We translate these powerful experiences into abstract and universal images that elicit an instant response by the viewer which makes visiting our showroom an interactive experience.

A bowl or pitcher may be reminded of a certain beach, person or moment, or a certain season, night sky, a concert or meal when you see a bowl or pitcher.  A connection is made, the story becomes yours and you know you've found what you were looking for.  


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The Party

What was the best part of the party for me? I could say that not raining was the best part since the party was outside. I could say the food, since it was the FIRST time I'd ever had Paella.

But no, the best part was the friends old and new, some of whom drove hours just to celebrate with us. The friends who couldn't be here who took photos of their collections and sent them to us. The friends who called or took us to the Players or out for drinks in the following weeks. 

I'd include the music, which was the first time I'd ever learned of murder ballads or death folk (google that and be amazed). 

Again, it it weren't for all our friends we would have had a lonely evening, so-----

Thank You to all who came, sent well wishes and pottery photos

and gave us presents. We probably didn't get to talk to everyone but we did try.

Thanks also to Nick Hoover and Jess Holland: 'Death Folk' for their amazing and beautiful music;


The Brew Coffee House in Ellison Bay for the delectable Ooo Laalaa's and coffee, Island Orchard Cider House for the best cider ever and


Scott McEvoy Culinaria for making that yummy paella which everyone raved about.



Thanks to Martha Beller of Tweak, who gave us good advice; to Pat Keenan Graphic Design for her artwork in our ads, to the Peninsula Pulse and Kathleen Maci for that glowing article about John.


Thanks most of all to our children- Vanya, Tim and Carly, Shannon and Ella and granddaughters Taylor and Isabelle--everyone got a chance to help us prepare and host this party and for that we are forever proud and grateful.  



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Potter's Pets and Other Shenanigans

Bibi, the Maine Coon, supervising John's throwing.
Albion, one of the early cats, looks to be sizing this space up for a cozy hide-away.
John and Harry Hybert working on the side porch with Snuffles keeping an eye out for ________?
It wasn't always serious ART WORK around here.  

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What's the 40th Anniversary Party Story?


Sunday August 24 from 4:00pm to 7:00pm is our 40th Anniversary Party AND also John's 71st Birthday Party. Of course, we are planning some special treats for everyone.

Beverages by Island Orchard Cider

Coffee and Desert by Brew Coffeehouse

Music by Jess Holland and Nick Hoover

This is John's first poster for Ellison Bay Pottery that his Mother, Margaret Dietrich, created for him in 1975. It's a pen and ink drawing of John's first studio. 

Here is John in the mid-80's. Behind him you can see his ubiquitous 3x5 cards that was his order system.  He uses the same system minus the clothes pins. It's worked for all these years so why change. 

1980's Porch

                                                                                   2014 Porch 


What you can do-------------

Bring (or email) pictures of your John Dietrich pottery collection so I can include them in the book I'm making for John.


Be prepared to enter our PHOTO BOOTH Where you can take a candid picture of yourself holding some current pottery.

You can leave a comment in the Guest Book too. We'd love to hear your stories and memories.  

Keep up with all the changes and additions by LIKING our Facebook Page.





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Hand-thrown Stoneware Mug Contest - Who Really Won?

Thanks to everyone who left a comment on our Facebook Page

The responses were amazing, the entries were heart-warming and funny! 

It's possible that we are the real winners here.  But the Winner is Joni W. who suggested we mail this mug to our dear friend Michael B. who moved away from Door County. The criteria: Posting a Comment; Liking our post and Sharing with Friends and Ms. Joni met all those and more. Thanks Joni W. 

I'd consider myself the real winner here. So many people shared their stories with me and everyone else. Each story changed my day, enriched my life and gave me joy. Thank You to everyone who took the time to share. Wish we could give you all a mug. 



The Entries! and The MUG!


Hand-Thrown Stoneware Mug (10oz) by John Dietrich with his glaze: Anagama Red
1. Nancy:  Love the colors that are reflective of DC. We are celebrating 31 years of marriage and total happiness while in DC. Door reflects harmony, peace and nature as does this pottery.
2. Kimberly L. Anderson:  I would give it to my husband who loves Door County in honor of our     32 years of marriage and the seven best kids the Lord has blessed us with! We honeymooned in Door Co in 1982. 
3. ArianaandMom Pensy:  My daughter and I would give it to my dad (grampy!). My parents introduced me to Door County 33 years ago, when I was a child. It was love at first sight and I have been coming there multiple times per year ever since. It always felt like leaving home when I had to leave. My daughter is 10 years old and she has been in Door County multiple times per year every year of her life and she loves it as much as I do. My parents became permanent residents of Door County two years ago; they used to live in the same town as we do. We have missed being together and have visited them several times per year and always felt like we were leaving home when we had to leave there. But, life is very good and my daughter and I have sold our home and next week - in 8 days to be exact! - we are moving into our new home in Door County! We will now be permanent residents of Door County! Finally and at last after all these years, we are coming home for good to where we always knew home to be! My dad (and mom too!) has helped us a great deal to be able to do this and we feel so lucky! It feels like having been away for a long, long time and now we are finally coming home to Door County - a one way trip this time! Dad (Grampy!) is AWESOME!  xo
4. Karen:  I would present it to my husband John of almost 44 years. We love Door County! Have spent many summer weekends camping in the Door when our children were young. We continue to take summer rides to the Door, enjoying every mile and every minute.
5. pottery by ... Debra: I would give it to my husband ... he keeps stealing my mugs. Even though I do enjoy my work, I also LOVE and appreciate work from others and enjoy adding it our growing eclectic collection of mugs !
6. Patty:  I would give it to my boyfriend of 11 years, while we have no children of our own we do have four fur babies and he loves them and me unconditionally even when we are at our worst!
7. Gini:  My husband needs that mug because we collect unusual, beautiful mugs. When our friends come over they love to go to the cupboard and pick out their favorite mug. This mug would be a great addition. Maybe my husband wouldn't let anyone use it. It has the perfect handle.
8. Daniel-Beth:I would give this mug to my kids so they could give it to me. What can I say, it's a cool mug and I don't have one. Just being honest.
9. Tamara: I do believe my partner slash husband deserves a strong cup like this one. He loves clay objects! His kids live away and I would give him this gift in their honor and he would invoke their spirits in his presence whenever he would use it!
10. Sue: Actually, I'd be hard pressed to give it away at all. I love it.
11. Kim: If love to give this to an amazing dad, my husband.
12. Su: My Dad needs this mug because he introduced me to pottery in every facet - took me to see potters at work and introduced me to his favourite artists. This is big handled for his hands and he'd savor the wonderful deep colours..
13. Mickey: I would like it for myself.
14. Rosane:  First choice would be to give it to me as it would be soothing to drink my fresh brewed from tea leaves from it. But would give it to my wonderful son who took me to a tea tasting for Mother's Day and has taught me to appreciate the drink more. But most of all because he is my rock since we lost his dad.
15.  Carol: So dad has past..but to be honest I would use it myself..something comforting bout drinking coffee from a beautiful cup
16. Jana: I would give this to my husband because he has what we call "Fred Flintstone fingers" and it looks like his fingers would fit this mug for his morning coffee!!
17. Liz:  I would give it to my husband so he would start drinking coffee. If this great mug won't get him to start drinking coffee on the deck with me, nothing will!
18. Carol: Amazing answers! Exquisite piece! Love it!!
19. Klaudia: To my wonderful dad ! Who build us house with his bare hands in Europe, got us out of communist country and misses me after I moved to door county ... This great mug would remind him of me when he has his coffee 
20. Sandy: I would give it to my husband because I love him very much and want something beautiful to remind him of me when he travels. Perhaps it would even coax his Texas heart to visit my Door County with me!
21. Connie:  I would give this mug to my dear friend Rudy Scheerer who will be 96 this December and still makes his own cup of coffee every morning and is the kindest man I know and would do anything to help anyone who needs it.
22. Cara: Perfect for my brother in law who buys a piece every year in DC but can't go this year due to a stroke...
23. Holly: I would give this to my husband Jerry. Not because he drinks a lot of beverages or would even appreciate such a beautiful piece of art. But because my husband is just the kind of guy who knows how much I love it and would immediately give it to me! By the way, I got a riding lawn mower for Mothers Day!
24. Jackie: I would give this to the best man in my life, my dad. He helps my husband and I at our Bait Shop a couple days a week. He's the smartest man I know, (yup even more than my husband, lol). The funny thing about my dad helping us is he never takes any money for his time, and always pays for his bait and stuff he needs for fishing. He's the best fisherman I know too. His first day working, he brought this little coffee cup from home to keep in the cupboard at the bait shop, to drink the DC coffee I make every morning, so as not to use a paper cup every time he comes. His cup is probably only the size of an 8 oz measuring cup! I love seeing that cup in the cupboard on the days he's not there. I may have even used it a couple times...
26. Chris: I would give it to my husband because I love him
27. Susan: Love it
28. Joni: Michael B. needs this mug to drink a Guinness in after he chills it in the freezer down in Kansas City ! Then each time he uses it he can miss Door County anew!
29. Bonnie: I would give it to my husband Tom. He drinks his coffee from an ancient plastic mug from Fuel Cafe in Milwaukee. I don't want him to die of plastic poisoning.
30. Colleen: My husband married me and became a dad instantly to my two children. He has been an amazing husband and father. Because of him my kids learned the true meaning of unconditional love and saw what a true father looked like. He would love this!
31. Stefanie: My hubby needs this! It looks like a perfect size to fit some cold beer in it!
32. Annie: Looks like mine!!! 
33. Heather: my daddy...he always makes sure to keep my own cup full ...i would want to make sure his was bigger than i can keep his full in his later years of life
Unlike · Reply · 1 · June 11 at 9:04pm
34. Carla: I would say my bro-in-law but really, I would want to keep it for myself. It looks to be the same coloring as all the other pieces that I own from your studio. Surprisingly, I have no mugs! 

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Ask The Potter--How Do You Throw Goblets

We've decided that learning about the process of anything gives us a better appreciation for the finished product. We have many artist friends and often all we talk about is the new process we've learned. We all can't get enough of that. 

That's why we open our studio to anyone twice a week during our summer season here In Door County so they can watch John throw pottery and ask all the questions they want, even the silly ones. Those often turn out to be the best ones. 

Today we'll share our two videos on the goblet process. First, John throws a few goblets and the Second one shows him trimming it and applying his artful designs. 

And your job? Ask the Potter--John--anything, about pottery, you want. 

Throwing Stoneware Goblets

Trimming and Decorating Stoneware Goblets


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The Joy of Winter at our Pottery in Door County

                       It's quiet at our pottery in Door County in the winter. I don't mean no customers. I mean, it's QUIET. The snow muffles the noise cars and other vehicles make. And softens the grinding and scraping noises the snowplow makes while it's cleaning the highway.
                        When I take the dogs out first thing in the morning, before the sun is even up, I can hear the little chickadees and nut-hatches and other winter birds chirping or otherwise talking to each other, or maybe to themselves.
                          Snowfall at night is another time I like to escape our warm and cozy barn. Sometimes I leave those puppies inside so I can focus on the sound snow makes falling on the snowy ground. Or feel each flake touch my face. I've never grown out of the whole magic of snow and my fear of slipping on ice hasn't crushed my appreciation of winter's beauty.
                       Getting back into the studio means making lists of products to make, inventory holes that need filling, brainstorming new ideas and eliminating products that just didn't get the response we hoped for. Taxes. Paperwork. Accountants.
                    BIDNESS takes over and soon I stop going outside for fun and only for a run to the Post Office. I spend too much time here, online, managing our online presence and not enough time in the studio. John spends all his time in the studio with breaks to clear snow, haul out wood-ash and haul in wood for our wood stove.
                     So that's why this afternoon I grabbed my phone and John, slipped my naked feet in my big snow boots and slipped outside with my fleecy red robe over my clothes so John could take some photos of me reading and sipping coffee while sitting on my bench on our circle. It's where you will find me as the early morning sun peeks over our building when the weather is finer. Grabbing a quiet moment before the hullabaloo of the season propels us forward to another wonderful, quiet, beautiful winter day in the snow.
We're open every day here in the winter but we don't get too many adventurous souls down Garrett Bay Rd. Those who do usually ask us what there is to do up here all winter. There are other questions but this is probably number one.
It's pretty busy up here with music and theater, silent sports and raucous broom-ball, learning and volunteering everywhere. We focus on reading, walking, napping, visiting and filling our shelves with more beautiful pottery that makes our life wonderful, and yours, too.

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Shipping Pottery - Our Holiday Tradition

Shipping pottery, admittedly one of the most important parts of our business, isn't rocket science, but there is as much anxiety.

Our pottery lives or dies by the 'Rule of 3'.

Three inches of packing material surround the pot, which is in it's own little box suspended in another box. Sometimes John has to construct boxes, so a little creativity is necessary. We count on this Rule to get the orders delivered safely.

We find bags of peanuts and stacks of boxes on our porch delivered personally by our friends and neighbors. A few local businesses will call us when it's our turn to get their boxes and peanuts. We are happy to recycle everything they give us.  There are times, though, when this serendipitous system fails us, and sometimes it happens when we need the stuff badly.

It takes just a few moments to transform our pottery studio into a shipping department and it usually happens after we're done glazing and while the pottery is being fired in our kiln.

First, John cleans the studio of all the detritus of glazing. Drips and drops of glaze can be found on the floor, walls, our clothing, our glasses, our hair after several days of glazing. Though we do shower regularly during glazing week, we don't clean the studio until we are all done and the pots are loaded.

After washing off the table, John goes up into the storage area above the gallery where extra inventory and most of our packing materials reside. In the winter this unheated room is, well, cold. The fluorescents flicker, casting shadows everywhere. There are probably mice somewhere watching John moving boxes around.

It's like a treasure hunt up there. He knows what he's shipping, so he looks for the right sizes. But, all the boxes don't necessarily fit so there is the trusty box cutter to cut boxes down to size. And the tape gun, one of my favorite tools, puts everything together.

Huge bags of packing peanuts, know 'affectionately' as ghost poo, are poured into the boxes. Sometimes a small dog has settled onto one of the bags and John has to nudge her off. Boxes are nestled into boxes, business cards and candy are placed carefully and the tape gun seals the flaps down.

I'm upstairs printing labels on three different sites, nervously matching the addresses and the pottery. And double-checking everything, twice, like Santa. Only it's not as much fun, since a mistake can cause too many interesting moments.

Finally, boxes are sealed. Labels are in the pouches and on the boxes. Boxes are in the van.  John transports the boxes two blocks to the Post Office.

He returns, empty handed.

The studio looks like a cyclone went through it. The office floor is littered with slips and scraps of paper. Lunch is cold as is the coffee.

Christmas starts.....NOW 





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15th Annual Holiday Open House -- Thanksgiving Weekend in Ellison Bay

Welcome to our 15th Holiday Open House.  We started this Holiday Open House tradition after we both lost parents that year and decided we'd find a way to spend more time with our family that weekend. John and I take turns personing the gallery and working in the studio and watching the games or shopping with sisters in law.  Now it's a fun and relaxed weekend.

A few years later Ellison Bay Arts was formed and many of the galleries and schools and culinary arts people would participate in the Holiday Open House (read last year's blog). Each year is different, but the core group: Clay Bay Pottery, Gills Rock Stoneware, us, and Turtle Ridge Gallery plus the Island Orchard Cider, are getting ready for an art-filled weekend.

We look forward to seeing you here.



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