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Studio Scenes • March Edition

NCECA or Bust!

At Ephraim Pottery, we hung up our aprons and set aside our clay tools to travel to Minneapolis for the annual NCECA, National Council for Education for the Ceramic Arts, Claytopia conference. At the crack of dawn we piled into Leah’s big blue Eurovan and settled in for the epic journey ahead.

We fanned out to cover more ground, attend more lectures and demonstrations, and shop for new artist tools. With a focus on maximizing this rewarding and mind-expanding experience, it will no doubt enhance the dynamic of our work when we arrive back at the studio.

While everyone was excited to arrive and dig in, Ken found a welcome cup of coffee to shake off the early morning travel fog.

We had a blast at NCECA! Until next year!

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In the Making: Foretelling Vase

Ravens often symbolize insight and prophecy. An omniscient raven perches on a branch, silhouetted by the full moon. Cutouts on the rim suggest the architecture of the material world, to which the raven foretells a message from the eternal realm.

Design inspiration, creating the Foretelling Vase

Laura Klein designed the Foretelling Vase. Her initial concept began as a tile drawing. Laura is often inspired by Art Nouveau imagery and this piece exemplifies her Nouveau sensibilities.

Alek Schroeder throws the Foretelling Vase:

Jennifer Alexander glazes the Foretelling Vase:

 

Ephraim’s raven motif evolves

The raven appears as a more recent theme in our studio works. In 2011 it first surfaced as Take Flight, a Kevin Hicks design exploring the mysterious nature of birds through the raven’s intelligence and beauty.  Since then, this motif returned only five times–in low relief sculptural designs,  two-dimensional Craftsman-inspired pieces and as a silhouette against the night sky. Along with Ephraim’s new Foretelling Vase, there are two raven pieces currently in production, the Bungalow Crow and the Rookery.

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Annual Ephraim Employee Party

Ephraim employees (and their families) took a break from throwing bowls to throw a few bowling balls instead. Our annual party was a blast! We rented the historic bowling alley in the basement of the Fort Atkinson Club in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin. The kids all had more fun setting up the pins than rolling the balls…it worked out perfectly!

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Making a Catalog

Peek at the behind-the-scenes making of our 2019 Studio Collection catalog

Many thanks to Laura and Andy Salerno who graciously shared their century-old home for Ephraim’s 2019 Studio Collection photo shoot. Each year we scout out a unique site that acts as a backdrop to our new designs.

Built in 1897 for the Scholl family as a double residence, or a modified duplex to accommodate mother and daughter, this charming Queen Anne-style home with American Gothic influences graces the tree-lined south end of Main Street in Lake Mills. It’s nestled between several other historic homes and its interior boasts original pocket doors, wood floors, a coal-burning fireplace and embossed Victorian wallpaper, or Lincrusta, among other period-specific architectural details.

Meet Jacob, the Norwegian Forest cat. With his hardy disposition and curious nature, he is the “alpha kitty” among an endearing bunch of felines who happily abide in this cozy home.

These meticulous and artful architectural renderings of the Salerno home were discovered behind a neighbor’s shelving unit 100 years after the home was built. At the age of 43, the architect Charles P. Rawson worked for the Radson Architectural Company in Madison. He was an original contributor to Architectural Digest and a published subject matter expert, authoring several books in his day.

Last, but not least, a big thank-you to our photographer, Nicole Cooke for her incredible technical skill and artistic eye. And to our graphic designer, Tony Cooke for his creative work pulling all the little pieces together into a sweet catalog.

Would you like to receive the 2019 Studio Collection catalog in your mailbox? Click here to join our mailing list!

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A Photo Journal of the Miniature Making Process

Miniature Process

During late winter, Ephraim artists boldly engage in an emerging tradition. We find space on our shelves and in our creative consciousness to build miniatures based on beloved Studio Collection designs. Our fine motor skills are already honed from holiday ornament production which intuitively turns our attention to what we fondly call “minis.”

 

Miniature Octopus Vase

In fact, it’s the artists’ experience over the past 15 years in developing and making hand-thrown ornaments that led to experimenting with one-of-a-kind miniature vases. The process offered our studio unique challenges, taking years to work through.

 

Miniature Stalwart Oak Jar

While the finely-wrought details in glazing and sculpting minis require similar techniques to their full-sized counterparts, it also requires more delicate motions, sharper tools, and ongoing patience. Loading an asymmetrical, minuscule figure with a tiny foot into the kiln demands precise balance so the pots can fire evenly.

 

Miniature Craftsman Rose Vase

To date, Ephraim has only managed to offer four miniature designs in short-run, limited editions – all in the last six or seven years. We will continue to welcome this post-holiday challenge because, in the end, the effort keeps us nimble and each successful attempt keeps us cherishing these astonishingly adorable and rare mini reproductions.