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Pottery Thoughts

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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Landmark Moments: Anniversaries, Birthdays and Other Dates

I mark my days, weeks, months, years by what's happened in the past.  Two years ago this October we went to China. Twenty-one years ago John and I married. Seventeen years ago John's Dad died and my Mom died.  There are birthdays and holidays and weddings scattered throughout these years. It's easy to forget how much my past influences my decisions today, so making a point of remembering these moments and even celebrating them brings my attention to how important they are to me now. 

Actually, since we work hard every day making pottery, mowing the lawn, washing the dishes, weeding the garden, talking to customers, demonstrating in our studio, vacuuming the gallery floors, sweeping the cobwebs that re-appear daily, making a big deal of an anniversary may even seem like one more chore on my To Do list. And I even groan and whine to myself, why do I have to throw a party, again. 

Because we should pay attention to what we've done. We should honor the hours spent in the studio or gallery or on the lawn mower, that kept us here for forty-one years. We should stop and appreciate our own selves, and then share that amazement with our friends.  We are amazed that it's already been forty-one years in Ellison Bay at EBP.  

It IS a big deal, and on Saturday, August 22 from 1-5 we're going Celebrate our 41st year here AND John's 72nd Birthday all at once.  We're going to eat cupcakes and sip something cold and refreshing and toast ourselves and YOU, all of our friends.  We'd enjoy ourselves a whole lot more if you were here to celebrate this with us. 


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Take a Class with John this June at The Clearing in Ellison Bay

Over the years people have asked us to teach a class but we've had to turn the opportunities down because our studio is not large enough. Collaborating with The Clearing has alleviated this so we're announcing this first ever chance to learn from John Dietrich AND another great potter John Hanson. 

The week long class: Making Pottery: Beginning and Beyond 

This is from The Clearing catalog:

"In this week of pottery making, you will have the opportunity to explore some of the roots of the craft and get different perspectives and techniques from two long-time professional potters. Both Johns—Hanson and Dietrich—are fortunate to have had a long relationship with Door County's Potter Emeritus, Abe Cohn, who died in 2013. They will share some stories, philosophy, materials and tools from Abe and from their many years of teaching and making pottery.


Hand-building will be emphasized in this class. You’ll have turns on the potter’s wheel, with assistance from both Johns, to produce a variety of pottery. Work can be pit and Raku fired on Friday at Ellison Bay Pottery just across the road from The Clearing." Read more HERE

BUT! There's More!!

The Clearing has scholarships available. Contact them directly here: 877-854-3225. This information is NOT on the Clearing website but shared with the instructors. Please don't hesitate to call get more information. 

If you haven't been to The Clearing then you are in for a treat. I call it a sleep away camp for adults.

It's called The Clearing because the founder, Jens Jensen, world famous landscape architect, believed we as adults needed to get away from our every day life and clear our minds by learning something new.  Please take a moment to check out the website. 

The Clearing is right across Garrett Bay Rd from our home.  And they are the best neighbors that anyone could ask for. 






John Hanson started Mudslingers Pottery in Colorado in 1998. John Hanson also worked at the Potters Wheel, with Abe Cohn in Fish Creek. 

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Winter in Ellison Bay: Art Show--New Dog--New Ideas ---Oh My!!!

Valentine's Day means Art Show for us this February in Madison, WI at the Olbrich Botanical Gardens. If you saw us last November there then you know how fab the show was. Let your friends know. If you can't find us at our booth you'll know we're enjoying the gardens. 
Introducing our Studio Dog-who supervises us, or something like that. Mostly, though, he's looking for a lap and John is sitting down, so....? Bo is getting used to life in a pottery studio and soon he'll become our new gallery dog. 
NEW for this year is this deeper casserole or baking dish. There are lids, but I wasn't around to shoot those. I love these and I know you will too. John's going to make some bigger ones for those family dinners that come around. 
Bowls are on our mind all the time, but especially in the winter when we can focus on new shapes and art. Last year's Door County Potter's Guild show in May had all the potters making one of a kind bowls and we were hooked. Not quite obsessed. But almost. John throws these and we took turns adding our January thoughts to the surface. 
There are the regulars that are getting a make-over as well. The humble mug is really a sculpture you hold everyday making them uniquely personal. The handles are the same, though. They must fit your hand, whether you're a girly girl or a manly man, and John wants each person to feel like that mug belongs in your hand. But wait till you see the mugs and steins.  Oh, baby, they are, well, wonderful. 
That's it for now. Thanks for reading!

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Kiln Furniture is Not Comfortable

Kiln furniture isn't for sitting. It's for holding shelves in a kiln. This is where John stores his furniture between firings. 
This is for plates. The posts hold the plate stand and then we can stack two/three plates in one space. Very handy when we're filling a dinnerware order. 
Posts on the floor of the kiln. These will probably stay here until the next firing. 
And here is a pile of cone packs. 
Cone packs hold pyrometric cones that measure accurately the temperature in the kiln. John uses cone packs and a pyrometer and the color of the flame when he looks into the peep hole to manage his firing. I like to think the cone packs are a kind of art. 
New Shape
New Glazes
I love these. 

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Nature and Our Ceramics

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

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


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

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

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


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