As the days shorten and shadows lengthen we see with fading light just how fascinating our little blue planet can be. From Twilight’s glow the 2017 Fall Collection reveals the stunning natural wonders, quaint creatures, and fairytale features of fall – the wildest season of the all. The Fall Collection will be available through September only.
Cinderella Pumpkin – Limited Edition. Thrown by Kevin Hicks, sculpted by Laura Klein and glazed by Allison Jellenchick.
“Victory Falls” is an awe-inspiring feat of ceramic art. At Ephraim Pottery we have great reverence for the past masters and have drawn so much inspiration from their art pottery. In this piece, Grueby and Teco Pottery were both influential. Artist, Kevin Hicks, appreciated Teco’s beautifully complex, double-walled designs – so ambitious they required molds and slip-casting. Similarly, the hand-thrown and organic nature of Grueby’s pottery has always been an important source of inspiration for Hicks. He wanted to merge hand-thrown pottery with the complexity of Teco’s slip cast pottery. The result is wonderfully intriguing. We are happy to share with you the creative journey of this pivotal piece.
A Process that Requires Skill
Without any straightforward instruction from books or other potters of the past, Hicks spent six-plus months of trial and error in different methods and materials to create Victory Falls. Two thrown parts must come together with an exactly equal diameter to make this piece. Hicks throws and scores the bottom of the upper, double-walled portion of the vase. He sets this first piece aside and carefully throws the lower form. Hicks delicately connects the two parts, finessing them on the potter’s wheel to join them seamlessly as one piece.
Sculpting & Carving: Finishing of the Form
After the form dries to leather hard, Hicks intricately carves into the form and applies the sculptural details of the bridge, rocks and water.
Collaboration of Glaze and Gravity
Once the form is fully dry it goes to the kiln for the bisque firing. Our master glazer, Becky Hansen, then applies the glaze – utilizing pouring, spraying and hand-brushing techniques – to finish the form and create the illusion of moving water with flowing glaze.
The Best Yet!
Kevin Hicks, “I like to look outside the box for creative ways to push forward – beyond what we have done in the past, beyond what other potteries are doing, and beyond what is typical.”
This special design is part of our Limited Edition Fall Collection and will be available for order only through September 30, 2017. It is our third version of a waterfall design and shows a progression of our creative expression. Below you can see “Victory Falls” beside our older waterfall designs.
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.
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!
Bittersweet—a wild vine that produces beautiful orange and red berries—grows in our neck of the woods. Ephraim artists have looked to bittersweet in the past and are again inspired by its beauty. In this charming vase, our studio artists sculpt intricately detailed vines and berries on a small bottle form. The delicate sculpting of the bittersweet, bright glaze combinations and humble motif make this a winning little piece.