We're open, right now. 10-5 daily until the end of this already amazing year.
As usual, we planned on opening May 1. That's how my spring work calendar is set up. It must be the light, or the birds, or the resilient human spirit that won't accept one more snow storm anymore. It's SPRING damn it! I can hear everyone say.
And customers show up at our locked door and dark gallery: Please open for us, please?
So now, we are looking forward to seeing all you hardy adventurous art and nature lovers who, just like us, don't let a little snow dampen the feeling of spring in our hearts.
And here's the Event Calendar for May
May 7 and 8---
'What Do Flowers Want? Vases! Door County Potter's Guild Annual Pottery Tour is all about VASES. Tour is Free. Maps available at each member's gallery or online HERE. We've been having more fun than is legal stretching our pottery wings. Please come to our free demo on Sunday and watch John do some clay magic. We'll have new vases, ikebanas and small planters just pining away for some flowers. Help them out, won't you?
May 21 and 22---
Ellison Bay Arts Spring Event--each artist is planning and preparing for this "First Look' extra special Spring Event...All the new pieces are inspired by Door County and the world around us. There are new glazes and new ideas taking shape right now that can't even be described yet. That's how pumped up we are about our studio work this winter. There will be a free demo on Sunday.
May 28 and 29---
Another fabulous, varied and exciting "Almost Perfect Pottery' sale is coming up. After each firing we find we have some pieces that aren't quite up to our gallery requirements, which are dauntingly stringent: If it's not good enough for our parents, it's not good enough for the gallery. But they are good enough for a seconds sale.
May 28 5:30-7:30
Save The Dates
August 21 12:00pm to 5:00pm Is our annual Anniversary Party! This year it's our 42 year here at Ellison Bay Pottery and, as you know, every day is precious. We'll have yummy food, refreshments, music and YOU! It won't be a party without you. Bring your friends too. Let's celebrate John's many years creating the pottery that I love almost as much as I love him.
June 24, 25, 26
Olde Ellison Bay Days- It's Ellison Bay's 150th Anniversary year AND Olde Ellison Bay Days 50th Anniversary year. We're having a party for ourselves, and you're invited. Read the Peninsula Pulse's article about last years 'do' HERE.
Join John Hansen and John Dietrich for a week long workshop making pottery at The Clearing in Ellison Bay. Both Johns were mentored by Abe Cohn, Master Potter of Wisconsin and founder of The Potter's Wheel in Fish Creek, the first pottery in Door County. Both of these potters are wonderful supportive teachers. Inexperienced people welcome!
As usual, if you have a pottery emergency, call us and we'll spring into action.
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.