Come August 20, 2017, the following designs will move from active production to permanent retirement.
It is always with mixed feelings that we cease to create any design. With each retirement we let go of pieces we have hand crafted and known intimately for years. Fortunately, as a collaboratively organized and ever-evolving art pottery, we thrive on progress and change – even while our techniques and styles are a solid reflection of historic tradition.
At Ephraim, we are part of a long tradition of collectible art pottery. Art pottery lends itself to collectibility because historically it tends to have been well marked with “shop marks” and it was naturally limited due to the making process. We have upheld the tradition of marking our pottery and because of the handmade nature of our process, the pieces are limited by the capacity of the pottery. We document how many pieces we make and publish these figures on our website in order to support collectibility.
Our art pottery and tiles are limited editions. Designs in our Studio Collection are limited to a maximum of 500 pieces. We also create limited, reserve and numbered editions of special designs. When a piece of pottery or a tile is retired, we officially close the edition, record the final numbers produced, and never revisit that particular design again.
As we soak up the long sunny days and marvel at the tremendous energy of the season we offer our limited edition 2017 Summer Collection. Like summer itself, this selection offers an array of flora, stunning heat, garden-fresh nourishment, and a dose of fantasy. The Summer Collection will be available for order through July only.
I have been working in the lab, making glazes at Ephraim, for a little over a year now. The lab is this space apart at the studio and the work that goes on here ebbs and flows like waves in an ocean. The discovery process for designing new glazes unfolds in utterly exciting and all-encompassing ways.
Imagine mixing a little clay dust, a little sand, some powdered rock, and an oxide that you last encountered in high school chemistry class. The mixture looks like the dry ingredients for a loaf of bread, yet you are aware that instead of ground seeds and grains, these are ground rocks and minerals. Next, you add a little water to the rock-flour mixture until it forms a creamy cocktail for a small test pot. The test goes into a small kiln and you can barely sleep while you wait the 8+ hours for the amazing transformation of heat on these humble elements.
Glazes are the most magical part of the ceramic process. I can’t think of any other artistic process that undergoes such a dramatic metamorphosis. My heart flutters thinking about all the possibilities that come from the same handful of ingredients – from our signature crystalline matte glazes that evoke the purest mineral deposit to glossy, glittery glazes reminiscent of a polished gemstone.
A successful new glaze beckons, inviting our engagement. We look for glazes that have a lively quality that results from flowing movement in the kiln, crystal growth that enhances the surface quality and depth, and color variation that breaks on a form in interesting, dynamic ways.
A New Glaze
Another component of glaze development at the studio happens outside of the lab. Ephraim glazers constantly experiment with new techniques for applying glaze; new ways to layer our existing glazes; and exciting, harmonious color combinations. The newest glazes that have come from the studio are the Periwinkle and sprayed Light Olive glazes that Becky developed and the bright red and orange accent glazes in the Rhythm Line that Jennifer developed. The ingenuity of our glazing team inspires me to keep seeking new treasures from lab.
As a result of months of work developing and refining designs, the studio is full of Experimental pottery. A sizeable group of these one-of-a-kind designs will become available online starting Wednesday, May 10, 2017, @ 12 PM (CDT). Each Item is unique, the exact piece represented in the photo and ready to ship in 2 business days. The following pieces and many more will be included in the sale. Prices range between $148 and $950.
Becky Hansen – Celebrating 10 years at Ephraim Pottery
What inspired you to create a Fuchsia vase for your ten year anniversary?
Each summer, it has become a tradition for me to place a fuchsia plant outside of my door to welcome me into my home each afternoon when I get home.I love watching all the stages it goes through to finally open up and present an elegant new bloom, sometimes daily.
When designing the piece, I wanted to incorporate a few of my favorite aspects of vases that I have sculpted in the past – the cutouts below the leaves, the nodding flowers, and the manipulated top.
Two of the first pots that I glazed when I started at Ephraim were the Cherry Orchard and Holiday Cranberry vases.Both pieces featured red or cranberry glazes flowing into the chestnut green background in such a beautiful and complimentary way.I wanted to capture this look for the Fuchsia Vase as a tribute to my start here at Ephraim and bring back a dynamic look.
What is it like to work at Ephraim Pottery? Being at Ephraim for over ten years now, I have seen many changes. These changes have included opportunities for the company and myself to grow and evolve.It is never stagnant here and each change is a breath of fresh air.Working at Ephraim is much like the Fuchsia – new opportunities open up, presenting a beautiful gift daily.
Two years ago, we asked, “What color glaze occurs from the accumulated glaze dust in our studio?” We discovered a black, speckled teal glaze and we used that color to make a limited run of “Earth Day Vases.” (read about the 2015 piece here). Inspired by our previous attempt at a recycled glaze, this year Becky wanted to find out what a glaze made from her scraping bucket would look like if she systematically omitted the green scrapings from the bucket. Becky painstakingly sorted her scrapings for an entire year. When the bucket was full, we reconstituted the glaze. The entire studio made predictions about the color – in the raw state the glaze was a chalky pink color that resembled many of our other glazes, but what color would it be fired to 2000 degrees?
The next morning when we plucked the sample out of the kiln, the whole studio had a good chuckle when we saw the color – green! Of course, in the end, this made sense because all of the yellow scrapings mixed with all the blue scrapings. The resulting glaze color is a unique shade of green with a softer tone than our leaf green; slightly bluish, though less blue than our teal glaze.
With this pleasing, creamy bluish green glaze in mind, we turned to Laura Klein to design a vase suitable to our new bucket of glaze and to an Earth Day theme. Immediately Laura seized on the idea of making a cicada vase. The rich symbology of a cicada from ancient art – representing rebirth and immortality, paired with poppies – representing sleep and death, seemed like the perfect, unique theme for this special piece.
At Ephraim Pottery sustainable practices are a regular component of the workflow. We recycle our used clay within the studio & by donating to local ceramics programs, we purchase energy from a solar and wind-sourced power grid, in the woodshop, John uses “scraps” of his quarter-sawn oak to build the smaller tile stands, and we offer reusable cloth bags in our galleries. Various staff members walk or bike to work, others drive fuel efficient vehicles. The list goes on…but you get the idea – we truly care about this beautiful planet and strive to protect the natural world which is our essential source of inspiration in our art.
We invite you to add this special vase to your collection and to also continually strive to make healthy choices for our planet. In honor of Earth Day, we will donate $20 from the purchase of each vase to The Alliance for the Great Lakes. Their mission is to conserve and restore the world’s largest freshwater resource using policy, education, and local efforts, ensuring a healthy Great Lakes for all generations. Happy Earth Day!
Artist Ken Nekola commemorates his 15 years at the Ephraim studio with this charming electric lantern. Ken especially wanted to make this piece for his anniversary in tribute to his early days of making functional pottery. His affinity for symmetry and order are legendary and he designed this piece with those sensibilities on display.