Arrow Fat Left Icon Arrow Fat Right Icon Arrow Right Icon Cart Icon Close Circle Icon Expand Arrows Icon Facebook Icon Instagram Icon Pinterest Icon Twitter Icon Youtube Icon Hamburger Icon Information Icon Down Arrow Icon Mail Icon Mini Cart Icon Person Icon Ruler Icon Search Icon Shirt Icon Triangle Icon Bag Icon Play Video

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!

Continue reading

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

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.







































Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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. 


      Continue reading

      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.  

      Continue reading

      Winter Soup Mug Flash Sale Extended till Monday Morning!! Special Thank You Gift included!

      Winter Soup Mug Flash Sale Extended till Monday Morning!! Special Thank You Gift included!

      The One - The Only - Super Soup Mug Sale

      Friday 3/25  9am-8pm

      + a BONUS!

      A secret surprise thank you gift with each purchase

      Until I met John in 2003 I hadn't used a hand thrown soup mug.  Years before, my Mom and I had been in John's studio to buy my brother and his fiancé a shower gift (goblets, of course) and we loved everything we saw. But I just didn't think of it as something for me.  Someone else, yes. Me, no.

      I had small children and I assumed that pottery was too fragile.  Took too much care.  Wasn't really practical.  

      Sale?  What about the sale?

      So marrying John and using pottery day after day was quite an introduction.  Turns out my children couldn't easily break the plates and bowls; they tried to get out of washing dishes. They fussed over the rules a bit (one dish in the pan at a time to prevent chipping....OMG it takes sooooo long--said some whining child!).  Soon it was second nature for even the youngest daughter. 

      Although I thought of only using the soup mugs for soup or stew, I soon learned to enjoy John's great chili in a mug and then there's the hot oatmeal in the microwave that is perfect for a morning like this. My children quickly found the soup mugs were the perfect size for ramen (with peas, or eggs, or left over chicken) and each kidlet went to college with a soup and a coffee mug.  

      And then there were the brilliant customers who used them as a watering dish for their bunnies and ferrets. No tipping was the selling point! More people pointed out how good they were as candle holders for pillar candles--the handles are the most romantic part.  

      What do you mean secret surprise gift?  Tell me more, please.

      And then there are leftovers: zap your choice in the microwave and TaDa----Lunch or dinner.  

      Easy wash up.  Food safe glazes and no wacky plastic chemicals to worry about either.  Sturdy and beautiful.

      They are truly little works of art you can use everyday.  

      hand made pottery soup mugs




      (front)-DO SOLD

      hand made pottery soup mugs

      (left)-CB SOLD

      (middle)- ANB

      (right)- FASBG   SOLD

      (front)- GR


      Details of the sale:

      Each mug is $44.  Shipping is $15-$18 depending on the number of mugs you buy. 

      Special Secret Thank YOU Gift with each purchase.  This gift was selected especially for this fun soup mug sale.  

      Send me your email with your selection and I'll send you a PayPal invoice.  I'm not running this through the store this time.  If you really don't want to use PayPal, call us at 920-740-5859.  

      As soon as I get your order I will note that sale on the website and on Facebook.  




      Continue reading

      Making Enough Pottery for the Season and Preparing the Soil for Planting in Door County

      Making Enough Pottery for the Season and Preparing the Soil for Planting in Door County

      small pottery studio production

      John loads up the glazing table with cups and covered dishes for me.  These are two of our most popular glazes. 

      There was a time, years and years ago, when Ephraim was our family's vacation destination.  Then my folks bought a hotel in Ephraim and I started cleaning bathrooms.  I got summer jobs in the tourism industry, mostly housekeeping and dish-washing and as a server. I went to college and finally married and moved to Baileys Harbor to become a ------ dairy farmer/dairy farmer's wife. Yeah.  How did that happen?

      Years after that, once I sold the cows and machinery, I moved myself and my four children to Ellison Bay and married a potter.  It didn't take long before I noticed that the seasonality of my previous dairy life was similar to our studio and gallery life. 

      On the farm in Baileys Harbor, the job I hated the most was picking stones in fields, preparing them for planting.  Hate is a strong word, I understand that.  But it doesn't even get close to how much I loathed that job. 

      Door County's soil is mostly rock with a little dirt thrown in.  If you've gardened here you'd be nodding in agreement.  Look around as you drive through the county and you'll see those cute rock fences.  Those were made by farm families every spring.  Parents and children, and if they could afford it a hired man, would walk out or ride the bucket attached to the front of a tractor, to the first field to be cleared of stones.  A seed planter can be damaged by rocks and stones in the field, so this was a very important, never ending, chore.  Winter with it's freezing and thawing heaved new rocks and stones up from the core of the earth to make my life a living hell each spring. 

      In small fields we'd fill up the bucket on the tractor and Dave (my first husband) would then drive it over to the rock fence that seemed a little thin and drop those rocks. With larger fields, we'd pull an old manure spreader into the field and fill that up.  We'd each carry a white plastic five gallon bucket and fill it. Then walk over to the spreader. Dump. Repeat.  Our two older kids shared the bucket and would help each other carry it to the spreader, but they needed Daddy to pick it up for them.  They were probably better at picking rocks than I was because I was so crabby about having to do this task. 

      It was a cold, damp, dirty, hard job.  But vital to our survival and success on the farm.  We all worked together as a family, something that built a strength in our family. 

      When I moved my family to Ellison Bay, it wasn't obvious to me just how much my life on the farm, with it's cyclical nature, would have prepared me to life in the tourism industry.  Farms had better months for milk production and pottery galleries have better months for pottery production and income generating. 

      The seasons corresponded as well.  January milk production would drop based on the fertility of our cows and, as everyone knows, Door County is totally closed after Christmas.  (That's a joke by the way.  It's people's perception that everything is closed so they don't come up and then businesses have to close for the winter because no one comes up; that's the Circle of Life--cue the music).

      What we did on the farm in the winter was maintain and repair machinery.  We deep cleaned the milk house and updated records. Researched how to get a better yield with better seeds and how to improve the genetics of our cow's offspring and keeping our cattle healthy consumed us and increase milk production.  I'd spring clean the house in the winter so in the spring I could be outside picking those damned rocks. 

      In the studio we learn what pottery sold the best last year, what glazes were most popular, what new items we've been thinking about should be made.  We create plans for events, for inventory building, for maintenance and repair inside and outside of the gallery. Paperwork.  Improvements in the business, advertising to try and to drop. And we make pottery, lots of pottery, so that our shelves are full when we open the doors in May, or April, or whenever people start driving down the driveway a lot and we put up the open sign for good. 

      Building an inventory can feel not so arty and more like a business, yet we have to think of what we do as a combination of creativity and taking creative risks and practical pragmatic decisions and jobs that must be done.  In order to keep our creative muscles strong we give ourselves some time each day to play with clay, to experiment with textures, or shapes or watch a YouTube video on a different way to fabricate a box or mug.  There are jobs that are not so cool such as recycling scraps of clay using the pug mill, with smells really bad and is loud.  That's John's job.  Keeping the inventory straight is mine.  All of these little things combined plus commitment to going to the studio and working every day is both ordinary and extraordinary. 

      I mentioned the job I hated on the farm was picking stones.  One of the reasons was that there are so many sizes, from grapefruit sizes to Cadbury Egg size and smaller.  We had to have a limit or it would have taken days to clear one field of all stones and rocks.  But there was an upside.  Sometimes I would find pink quartz.  Sometimes I'd find granite rocks.  Sometimes I would find amazing fossils.  If I could get over my disgust with this essential job I could get into the treasure hunting excitement that even my kids, who were under 10, had.  Learning about the geology of Door County became a passion of mine.  I've always collected rocks and stones and they moved with me for over 40 years.  I remember where I got each one.  My Mom collected stones and rocks, as did my maternal Grandmother and they kept those collections close, like lining up the precious stones on the window sill in front of the kitchen sink overlooking the garden they came from. 

      Then one day I meet a potter and begin learning a completely different aspect of stones. Of granite.  Learning where clay comes from. How it's created, by the earth, over millions and millions of years.  How we can transform this sticky plastic material into a kind of stone when we fired it just to it's melting point. 

      I miss so much of my previous farming life: working with my children in the barn or field.  Dealing with my 'girls' in the barn and out in the field.  Fetching my 'girls' in the pasture at 4:00 am every morning and seeing shooting stars and amazing northern lights.  Slipping into the barn at 10:00 pm to give them one more slice of hay.

      Then I think of how I, right after dinner, slip into the studio to cover up some project I've been working on, watch John at the wheel, sketch my ideas everywhere, write, meet people who fall in love with John's work, greet returning customers.  I get to create a display in the gallery. We get to have a picnic on our porch for lunch every day during the busy season. 


      picking rocks in the spring

      I didn't take photos when we were picking stones in the 80's so I've borrowed this one from a dairy mom in Ohio.  I had no idea Ohio had rocks in it's fields as well. 


      Continue reading

      Olde Ellison Bay Days Call for Artists

      Olde Ellison Bay Days Call for Artists


      We're looking for fine art and fine craft for our small art fair in June (25, 26).

      This year Ellison Bay celebrates it's 150th anniversary and our 50th Olde Ellison Bay Days festival  We've got so much planned and we'll be revealing the details as time goes on.

      There's also a food event called Uncorked Summer at the Wickman House restaurant in Ellison Bay. And the Liberty Grove Historical Society (Liberty Grove is actually the township name. Ellison Bay is a hamlet in the township.)has a fish boil fund raiser planned for the 23rd.

      For more information please call 920-854-5049 or email us at

      Invitation and Application is here as a PDF.

      Continue reading
      Powered by Top Rated Local®