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Pottery Thoughts

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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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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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.

AND

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 pretty...my 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 mine...so 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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Bowls. Bowls. Bowls.

The best part about this year's challenge to make one of a kind bowls?

Making the bowls, of course. 

John began the series by throwing the bowls and altering the edges and shapes. There was one afternoon when we worked together, like the call and response you hear in music. He'd do something, I'd do something, then he'd react to it. That was probably my favorite day. Some of what we did turned out well and others were, well, interesting, but all of them tell a story. It's up to you to 'hear' it.

(starting at the top) Green Squares $34; Gold Squares $34; Green Smiley Face $34 Green Cosmic $34. The Green Smiley Face and all the other smiley faces are in honor of my artist brother, Dean, who passed away last fall. The smiley face was one of his recurring images and I wanted to explore that as well.                       

( left to right) Green River Smiley $34; Turquoise Smiley $34; Turquoise/Green River $34. the last bowl was a very happy experiment. We used two copper green glazes together for the first, but not last, time. Really excited to explore this further in this firing cycle. 

                      

 (L-R) Multi-Glazed Leaves $40; Blue Squares on Blue $34; Cosmic Fake Ash Green and Blue $34. The bowls with Leaves is also a 'firsts' bowl. First for those two glazes, first for those leaves and first for all the bumpy textures. 

 

Starting with the largest bowl $80, $48, $34. After John throws each bowl he applies the color using colored clay slip. In these bowls he brushes cobalt blue and then chrome green on as the bowl goes around and around. This way the colors are both individual and blended slightly. Then he uses a smaller brush to apply a translucent porcelain clay and rutile (the sparkly gold). Finally he applies the white porcelain line pulling the whole image together. 

 

One of the interesting experiments we tried was using a glaze called Simple on other colors besides copper red. It gives GOOD red consistently and we love it. This last firing we applied it to cobalt blue. That large Cosmic Blue bowl ($80) is so intensely blue it verges on black. The same Simple glaze is on that small cosmic bowl on the R $40. The Chun Blue in the front $40 and the smallest one, also Chun Blue $34 are a brighter, almost happier, blue. But the new blue--fabulous. 

 Cobalt Blue and Copper Red Cosmic $34

 Small Fake Ash and Chrome Green. The gold is that rutile which is less sparkly when this glaze is used. This matte glaze is elegant and classic. John wants to take an inert material - clay, and impart life and movement in and on each piece. He's been imbuing his pieces with parts of his heart and soul and he hasn't run out of either so far. Although this is a recognizable signature design, the new, the one of a kind-ness of this bowl is subtle. See if you can find the obvious one. $34

 

 One experiment, putting the Anagama Red glaze over chrome green, resulted in this deep and mysterious color. This is John's glaze recipe, one he created, so it's personal and our favorite. Many of our customers love this too. This is the first time we've used it with green and we won't forget how much we fell for this one. $34

 Deep deep bowls, so I took two photos of these lined up. I wanted you to see the inside glaze BUT I also wanted that visual of the 4 bowls standing there, repeating. Each is $34

 Sold the smallest one yesterday. All four were either a new size, shape or had altered edges. John really likes bending those edges. I guess we could say he's edgy, but I'd rather not be that obvious. I like the way the glaze breaks on the rims, like it's framing each bowl. $38 for each

 

 These bowls are residing on one of the tie-dyed table-clothes we brought home from China last fall. The Smiley Face is $34, the one to the left is $48 and the one on the right is $48 as well. Three different blues, three different pieces of functional art.  

These are perfect for noodle bowls. We had to try them, they are so new so we finally tried them out a few days ago. Perfect for noodles or soup. Nice and deep. $40 each 

 

 A bit smaller and these are some that got us all excited, stepping out of our comfort zone and into a new realm. Not even sure what any of this means or where we'll go with it. $34 each

 Deep and different, like the ones above a bit. $40 each. We have only two of each glaze.

There are many many smiley faces everywhere on this. The eyes, nose and mouth are a mix of green and red, though I intended this to be all red. Kiln gods are part of the equation, I was reminded, once again. $48

 $34 Blue squares on a porcelain background and sparkly gold flowers.There are flecks of red, can you see? Crazy. 

 White squares on blue and red flowers. $34 I might make more of these, since I am stuck on repeating images this year. 

 John used a different matte glaze on a Cosmic design and got a really interesting blue. And the glaze had some interesting effect on the creamy white parts. $40

 $34 Dark dark blue squares on green background with abstract white lines. The combination of the green and blue with this new glaze gave me an idea for something else, which I just love. 

 These Cosmic bowls, each $34 with wavy edges and  different colored slips applied. I'd keep them just to look at them. So I dust them and enjoy instead. 

 I really loaded this up with rutile and glaze and it mixed just right. This photo just can't capture to depth $48

 

Small $34 bowls. John threw these and I applied the dots. Boy did I ever. The 2nd from the right sold yesterday as well. 

 

And the whole experience? John and I aren't done yet. We've been talking and comparing ideas and more importantly, we've been listening. Our customers, you, give us valuable feedback. It may be the most important ingredient in what we do. Our inspiration is all around us, and the response from our audience is what keeps us going. 

Leave a comment or suggestion. It will be like you're here, in the gallery, and we're talking about pets and pottery. Our favorite subjects. 

 

 

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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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Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeve - Valentine's Day Party at our Gallery

We're doing it again:

Having a Valentine's Day Party in support of Women's Heart Health.

We're calling it 'Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeve'.

The details are pretty simple:

  • Come to our gallery Friday or Saturday February 7 and 8 from 11-4 wearing RED and we'll surprise you with a GIFT.  That's right, a gift just for wearing red and visiting our gallery.
  • When you purchase anything in the gallery I'll donate 10% of that total sale to my National Wear Red Day Fundraising Page.
  • If you can't make it for the Party, then click on the link and donate what you can to my fundraising page.
  • If  you chose to shop here on our website, then I'll take 10% of that purchase and ship you the gift too!
  • Refreshments! Could be the most important detail, right?  Cherry juice and heart healthy and gluten free cookies with, you guessed it, dark chocolate and almonds.

Another Heart Healthy yummy we suggest would be some Red Wine, but I bet you know where to get that. We can recommend any of the great Door County Wineries and they do ship. Here's a link to the Door County Visitor's Bureau website with a complete listing of wineries.  We love them all.

Please shop and enjoy and we'll do the rest!

 

 

 

 

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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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