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Pottery Thoughts

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.  




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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. 


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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.

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Olde Ellison Bay Days Art Fair Invitation Letter and Application

Olde Ellison Bay Days Art Fair Invitation Letter and Application

50th Annual
You are invited to apply to the 50th Olde Ellison Bay Days Art Fair sponsored by the Ellison Bay Service Club. Ellison Bay is also celebrating it’s 150th Anniversary!
Located at the Ellison Bay Beach Park, Olde Ellison Bay Days kicks off the festival season in beautiful Door County. Olde Ellison Bay Days activities include the very popular ‘Best-minster’ Dog Show which promotes and supports the Door County Humane Society. Categories such as Best Jumper or Cutest Tail offer lots of entertainment. Each year attendance grows as attendees take advantage of the great food, music, activities and art fair. Because this is our 50th Anniversary, more surprises are in store. We hope you join us in welcoming the Summer Art Fair season in Ellison Bay.
In addition to the Art Fair and all that happens at the Beach Park all weekend, on Saturday there is the 3rd annual ‘Uncork Summer’, featuring Door County eateries, wineries and breweries held at Wickman House and sponsored by Door County North. On Sunday morning, The Liberty Grove Fire Fighters offer a Pancake Breakfast at the Beach Park. Parking and transportation is sponsored by the Ellison Bay Service Club.
Saturday, June 25 from 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Sunday, June 26 from 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Set up is Friday June 24 after 12:00 p.m. Saturday set up will be from 6:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. Coffee and Donuts will be available. You can drive your vehicle to your booth spot and there is easy parking. The highway closes for the parade. Be sure you’ve parked your vehicles by 9am.
Application deadline: June 1, 2016. There will be no refunds on cancellations after June 15, 2016. If your application is not accepted, your check for booth fees will be returned.
All spaces are 10’ x 10’. Each exhibitor gets a corner spot. No electricity is available. There is little shade.
And now, we have a favor to ask of you, our favorite artists. Please spread the word that we’re committed to a real fine art/fine craft show in Door County. For each artist that you recommend who is accepted for 2016, we’ll give you a 10$ credit towards your 2017 booth fee.
Thank you very much.
John Dietrich and Diane McNeil, and Jon and Mary Reddin: the OEBD Art Fair Committee.

Olde Ellison Bay Days 2016 Art Fair Application
Street Address:_______________________________________________
City: ____________________________State: _____Zip: ______________
Phone: ____________________Email:____________________________
Checklist: (Be sure to enclose ALL below items or your application may be delayed or returned)
_____Signed Application Form

_____The $15 non-refundable Application Jury Fee (made out to Ellison Bay Service Club)
_____Full Entry Fee ($90/one booth; $170/two booths. Circle the one you chose) on separate check-Made out to Ellison Bay Service Club

_____3 Photos/slides of your work plus 1 photo/slide of your outdoor display –
if you email digital images we can use them for promotional use on Facebook
MANDATORY: Indoor displays will NOT be accepted.
_____Completed Tax Form (Tax Form Included)
_____SASE large enough for slides/photos and show information
_____Late Application Fee $10 (deadline is May 15, 2016)
______ Mail the application to: OEBD Art Fair; John Dietrich; PO Box 28; Ellison Bay, WI 54210-0028 Questions? 920-854-5049 or

The undersigned does hereby discharge, release and hold harmless, Ellison Bay Service Club. (all cities, property owners, and associations) and all co-sponsors from any and all manner of action, suits, damages, or claims whatsoever arising from any loss or damages or claims, to the person or property of the undersigned while in possession or under the supervision of the sponsors during the Festival, and hereby consents to enforcement of all rules of this event. Furthermore, the undersigned artist hereby certifies that all display work is handcrafted and created by the show participant. Participant understands that any mass produced item on display can cause expulsion from the show or future shows. There are no rain dates. There will be no refunds if a show is cancelled due to rain, floods, hurricanes, or any other forces of nature.There will be no refunds on artist cancellations after June 1.
Failure to comply with the rules and regulations set forth on the reverse side of this General Release may result in expulsion from any and/or all events. Management reserves the right to make final interpretation of all rules.

The undersigned understands that if this application is not accepted, all fees and slides will be returned by mail, with the exception of the Application Processing Fee. If accepted, EBSC has my permission to reproduce my artwork, through the slides or photographs I have submitted, for the purpose of advertising and marketing the Festival. EBSC also has my permission to publish photographs or videos taken of me, my booth and my work during the Festival for purposes related to promotion of the Festival, past or future.

Signed: ____________________________________________________
Date: ______________________

Links that may be useful for your own promotion.

Olde Ellison Bay Days Facebook Page

Ellison Bay Service Club Facebook Page

Ellison Bay Pottery Studios Facebook Page

Olde Ellison Bay Days Art Fair Facebook Page

Uncork Summer 2015 Website

Door County North Facebook Page

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Thanksgiving at Ellison Bay Pottery---Our 18th Holiday Open House

Thanksgiving at Ellison Bay Pottery---Our 18th Holiday Open House

I decorate the gallery weeks before I decorate my house.  In fact, I clean my gallery more often than my house! I want our beautiful pottery to shine.  

This month I've been doing both.  Family will be here for for dinner and we're expecting our Holiday Open House to be as popular as it has been.  There's lots to do in Door County this weekend.  Holly Days in Egg Harbor. FOG Art Fair in Sister Bay and.......

Then, there's Ellison Bay--where the arts are number one.  Not only are we open, but other galleries and restaurants are. The parks so are beautiful this time of year. If you haven't visited Ellison Bay in the late fall or winter you're in for a treat.  

Open House Hours 11-4 Friday and Saturday

The store on our website is always open. 

As always you can call us in a Pottery Emergency 920-854-5049 

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What's so good about November?

The light for one thing.  Once the trees lose their leaves, the sunlight can get through and light up the woods.  It seems brighter around the barn and for that alone, November is good. 
The smells of autumn.  Leaves on the ground.  The grass mowed for the last time.  Crisp air which hints at the snows to come. Fall flowers still smell good and grace our home and gallery. Apples beyond ripe in the orchard fill the air with a certain piquant sweetness.
The pace slows down.  We're still very busy.  Stacking wood, throwing pottery, dusting the gallery, sketching the next new ideas for the winter, anticipating the last OPEN HOUSE of the year, trimming pottery, firing pottery. 
We've got one more firing to complete this year and it's going to be full of orders.  We take our promise to get these done and mailed in time for Christmas surprises. We love, love, love filling pottery orders.
The end of the season is bittersweet.  I love meeting new people, seeing old friends and learning something everyday.  But at the end of October, I'm ready to slow down a little, which is why we change to fall hours.  Gives us a little more time to think, something vital for an artist.  We get away from our little piece of heaven on earth and gain perspective.  

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The Studio Never Sleeps


There are a thousand stories in the studio and this is just one of them.....

It's true, though.  Pots dry overnight.  Ideas and solutions come from dreams. It's good to have the distraction of washing dishes or folding laundry to give my mind a chance to work in the background.  John uses splitting or stacking wood and weeding the garden.  John was drying a very very large vessel months ago so he put it on the wheel and placed a weight on the pedal so the wheel would rotate s l o w l y, thus avoiding warping the vase.  That ran all night.  The studio: humming along without us.  

Then there was the time when a cat jumped down and hit the pedal (there wasn't anything on the wheel at the time, whew) and boy did that get our attention.  Heart stopping attention!!

Lately, with all our deadlines, we've been working late finishing up projects or starting them so they could be finished the next day.  Dogs sleep on the dusty floor while we work and listen to a television show.  

This is what we're working on right now:

(ok, this isn't actually us working, it's just us having fun)

John is waxing pots so we can glaze and load Wednesday.  The fish and vases for our Raku Firing Party are drying and he will bisque fire those on Wednesday too!  Wait, what? What Raku Firing Party are we talking about? 

This weekend is our Annual Ellison Bay Arts Fall Crawl.  John and I thought it would be neat to have a Special Raku Firing Party (details on our Facebook page). The fish and vases, made especially for this weekend will be sold right out of the kiln.

AND for a fee ($50) YOU can pick out the fish or vase you like, the glaze you want and we will fire it for you right there.  So get here early to pick out the fish you want.  We start at 11am and end at 4pm both days.  If it's raining on Saturday, which may happen, we'll have a special kiln opening and still have Sunday to Party!!

The following weekend, Oct 31 and Nov 1 is the Madison Handweaver's Art Show at the Olbrich Botanical Garden in Madison WI.  It's quite a show with wonderful creative artists who are very strictly juried in every show so you know we're all bringing our very best.  We love being there and are grateful to the people at Olbrich for giving us this amazingly beautiful space for a few days.

 We begin work on our Christmas orders as soon as we return so that we can get everything shipped out in plenty of time.  There's still time to get on our list but that window will close Nov. 15. 

Thanksgiving was my Mom's favorite holiday so it's mine, too. It's also a very popular time in Door County and Ellison Bay.  Many of the galleries here hold Holiday Open Houses and ours will feature the hot cider from Seaquist's Farm Market and cookies and In Gallery Specials.    

I  can hardly wait for winter in the studio.  Hibernating is good for the artistic soul.  But, we love meeting and talking with our friends and making new ones every day.  We love hearing your stories and how our humble pots have had an impact on your lives.  If you ever feel like sharing, send your story on to us with some photos and we'll post it here on our blog and on our Facebook page.  

I have a small request of you, too.  Could you please leave a comment on TripAdvisor? It helps others find us and it helps our business so much.  We're also on Yelp if you'd rather leave a comment there.  Both are used by visitors to Door County.  Thank you so very much.

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Early Morning in Ellison Bay

Best time to walk the dog? 

Early morning when the air is crisp and pungent with the the mix of smells and aromas from the grasses, the apple and cedar trees, the late summer flowers. 

Bo is interested in that squirrel scrambling up the tree, the tasty treats (we call them bugs) on the ground and those smells only he's aware of. I want to stop listen to the few birds that are talking, the far away sound of cars on the highway, the silence of the trees around me.  

He wants to go.



I woke up before the alarm, again, to the sound of the sandhill cranes to the east discussing something.  Weather? Which route to take today? Who leads? Is there a leader?  I don't know.  Their call transports me millions of years ago.  I try to imagine this land that I live on before people were here. Before the ice age that changed everything for this place. I can't.

Every morning is special here.  If I can get up early enough, I can own the silence. At the end of August there's an urgency to get up early and not miss one.  Winter is coming, and it's just as wonderful to sip my coffee outside on a brilliant blue sunny winter morning, but the moments don't last like today's. 

When I can sit outside on my painted bench and take a Door County mini vacation.  


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August Newsletter Birthdays and Anniversaries and Parties.......

Hurray----It's summer in Door County and...........

it's hot and humid right now, I left the air conditioner in the gallery on this evening and I'm sitting in coolness enjoying myself and writing this letter. I think I'll sleep here!
Door County was called the "Air Conditioned Playground of the Midwest" years ago for years but not anymore. We have steamy hot days and nights when the fan doesn't do much but move the sticky air around.
Anyway, that's not the only thing that's hot here at the studio. We just had a firing and John unloaded the kiln today. You can go over to our Facebook page and see the new pots right now.

Work in Progress......




Here's one John and I created together. We think it's amazing. Can't even tell you how I felt when I saw it this afternoon. Stop in the gallery. We'll have the pots on the shelves by Monday.Or you can wait a week and come to our Anniversary/Birthday party on Saturday, August 22 from 1-5 and party with us as we celebrate 41 years here at EBP and John's 72nd birthday. I wrote a blog post sharing my thoughts on anniversaries and birthdays which you can read here.
We'll have cupcakes and refreshing beverages and stimulating conversation all afternoon. Please come.

Our September 'AMOST PERFECT POTTERY SALE' is coming up soon. It's one day only--Saturday September 12, 10-5. I'll send a reminder early September, but put it on your calendar.

A delegation from Jingdezhen was in Door County in July and they came up to our studio for a short talk and visit. (Eleven years ago Jingdezhen and Door County became Sister Cities; and two years ago John and I were members of a Door County delegation that were guests of Jingdezhen.) The delegation consisted of doctors and an administrator and they were most interested in learning about our health care system in Door County. They got to experience a good ol' Door County potluck and brat fry, visit some of the our parks and meet people. I've got more about that experience on our blog.

Thank you for reading.


One more thing. We're on TripAdvisor and we'd so appreciate it if you would leave us a comment or review. If you have a suggestion or criticism, email us. We're always looking to improve everything we do. Thank you very much.

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Jingdezhen in Door County

I still think and dream about China.  We flew over so many mountain ranges and they were beautiful.  The cities were full of an amazing variety of people and food and each building qualified as an antique.  History in every step.  And this history goes back thousands of years.  I still don't grasp this. 

John and I were in China in 2013 as members of the Door County Sister City delegation.  We were all guests of Jingdezhen and they provided a hotel and food and transportation and tours and entertainment for three full days.  

So when we heard a delegation from Jingdezhen was coming for a few days in July we knew we'd have to be as involved as our crazy summer schedule would allow.  We joined everyone involved with the Sister City relationship in sharing a uniquely Wisconsin tradition: a barbecue.  A brat fry, more specifically.  

The next day everyone came to our studio to visit and hear John and I give a talk about our work and so many photos were taken.  Of course, we all love taking photos with each other.


In our gallery we have a small display showcasing some of the porcelain pottery made in Jingdezhen, the home of porcelain.  In fact, the Chinese were pioneers in the technology to fire pottery at high temperatures using wood.  And no pyrometers.  Just by using their ears, eyes and brains.  Amazing. 

Here's a list of some articles from the July 2015 Jingdezhen delegation to Door County.

An article about the 2015 Door County delegation visiting Jingdezhen in April 2015


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