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
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
(right)- FASBG SOLD
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Invitation and Application is here as a PDF.Continue reading
OLDE ELLISON BAY DAYS ART SHOW INVITATION
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.
DATES AND TIMES 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
City: ____________________________State: _____Zip: ______________
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 email@example.com
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.
MANAGEMENT RESERVES THE RIGHT TO DISQUALIFY ANY EXHIBITOR CAUSING ANY PROBLEMS TO FELLOW EXHIBITORS OR MANAGEMENT.
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.
BY SIGNING BELOW YOU ARE AGREEING TO ALL POLICIES, RULES and REGULATIONS
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