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Featuring Artist Becky Hansen

Becky Hansen – Celebrating 10 years at Ephraim Pottery

What inspired you to create a Fuchsia vase for your ten year anniversary?

Becky’s fuchsias at home

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.

Becky glazing her Fuchsia Vase

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Earth Day 2017

Earth Day Vase – 2017 Edition (recycled glaze) $218, with $20 per vase donated to The Alliance for the Great Lakes. June update: We had enough recycled glaze to create 46 Earth Day vases. That means that together we have raised $920 for the Alliance for the Great Lakes! Thank you!

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.

Artist Laura Klein throwing the Earth Day Vase – 2017 Edition
Artist Laura Klein sculpting the Earth Day Vase – 2017 Edition

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!

Earth Day Vase – 2017 Edition (recycled glaze) $218, with $20 per vase donated to The Alliance for the Great Lakes.
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A Beautiful Time to Visit Cambria, California

Five years ago, on a leap of faith, Kevin Hicks, owner of Ephraim Pottery, opened Ephraim Pottery West Gallery in Cambria, CA. California’s Central Coast enchanted him and the beauty – so different from our Wisconsin surrounds – continually inspires us. The locals have been so warm, inviting, and enthusiastic about our art pottery. We feel like Cambria is a hidden treasure that we would love to share with you.

Our gallery manager, Shari Little – a California native and our wonderful ambassador to the area, answers some of our questions and provides a bit of insight into visiting her neck of the woods this season.

Shari Little – West Gallery Manager

Here in Wisconsin the weather is damp and grey in April. How is Cambria in April?

We’ve had over 35 inches of rain this season in Cambria and another storm due here on Friday.  Most people like to visit when it is sunny, which it typically is, so they can do all the outside activities – biking, kayaking, walking, hiking, paddle boarding, etc.  The positive side of all the rain is that it has brought our flowers early and lots of them.  I had a customer in this morning who shared some pictures of the Poppy Reserve she had just visited. 

Craftsman Poppy Vase in teal & Pacific Poppies Bud Vase.

Heavy rain has caused problems with roads and bridges in the area. How has that affected tourism?

I’ve spoken with other business owners here and we all agree that we’ve seen a very significant slow down because of the Big Sur – Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge collapse on HWY 1.  Right now, there is nothing but parking everywhere – East Village is the same.  If anyone would like to visit this time of year, they’ll have the towns to themselves with plenty of parking (unlike Summertime).

What are the must-see stops for visitors to the Central Coast?

If you have a day or a weekend to visit Cambria our sunny West Village gallery is a must stop. Here you will find an ever-changing offering of handmade art pottery, art tiles, woodwork and Arts & Crafts style furnishings. Our neighboring shops and eateries also have quality goods to offer, plenty to make for an enjoyable day of leisure!

While in Cambria there is great hiking and walking along the boardwalk next to the ocean at Fiscalini Ranch. Very nearby in San Simeon, there is a great spot to view the elephant seals. Also, a tour of the famous Hearst Castle never disappoints. Just south of us, Avila Beach is the warmest beach on the coast and is an upscale town with a golf course and a working pier. Nearby San Luis Obispo also has wonderful shopping and a fabulous night farmer’s market on Thursdays.

Fiscalini Ranch Preserve in Cambria, CA
Cambria coastline
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Connect with us, share your photos on Instagram

Share the love. Join the conversation.

You are invited to join the Ephraim Pottery Instagram community, a network of art pottery enthusiasts who share their love about living artfully in the modern world.

To join simply post a photo of your Ephraim pottery with the hashtag #myephraimpottery and tell us what EFP means to you. Have fun and show your sense of style!

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Colossal Dragon Vase – Experimental

WebHave you heard of the phrase: “Art for art’s sake?” Once in a while we get the urge at the studio to push boundaries. We take these risks for the thrill of the ‘what-if’, to find the limits, to stretch ourselves, and frankly to see something new. Kevin came to work one quiet weekend in June and in a fit of inspiration threw this colossal form. No small task, the forming and sculpting of this piece took a couple days of work and a lot of careful handling through the modeling, drying, and firing processes. We expected to learn a lot along the way, but we never expected a first quality piece to result from this experiment in ‘art for art’s sake.’ Follow the blog to see the process of making our Colossal Dragon Vase and witness our jaw-dropping excitement at the beautiful end result.

The form was thrown by Kevin Hicks using the method of throwing a base, adding coils, pulling the layers together and adding an inverted form at the opening.
Kevin used a torch to accelerate the drying process on this challenging form.
Kevin greatly enjoys creating dragons which can take so many shapes and really allow the imagination to run wild. The body, wings and horns were all wheel-thrown elements.
The Colossal Dragon Vase dried for over a month in our humidity controlled tent. Shown here beside a Walden Pond.
Loading into the kiln for the bisque firing required the kiln to be disassembled and rebuilt around the form once it was in place. The greenware is very fragile.
The Colossal Dragon was bisque fired with another experimental dragon vase.
The large size of this vase combined with the fragile sculpture created a challenge in glazing the interior. After much experimentation a “sploosher” was built to spray a quick, even coat of glaze up into the vase.


Kevin Hicks and Jennifer Grelk inspect the interior glaze application.
Jennifer Grelk applied the base layer of sprayed glaze.
Jennifer spray glazing the base layer of glaze.
Allison Jelenchick applying a speckle coating of glaze to create a dramatic finish.
Allison glazing a “Petite Violet Bowl” while Jennifer applies the brushed glaze to the sculpture.
Jennifer Grelk applying the many intricate glaze elements to the dragon.
Jennifer glazed the dragon in pumpkin, grey, black & sun.
Loading into the glaze firing was less challenging since the form was stronger from the earlier bisque firing.
The Colossal Dragon Vase (shown here hidden under a cloth) was revealed to our staff during a party at Leah’s. We gathered to share home-cooked Indian food, including naan baked on our kiln shelves over the fire, and to celebrate the surprising success of this experiment. It was an unforgettable evening filled with camaraderie, amazing food and shared delight in our achievement!





At 23 inches tall, 15 inches wide and 39.6 pounds this form is more massive than any previous ceramic work from Ephraim Pottery. We are thrilled and amazed by the first quality results of this ambitious form and excited to offer you the chance to own this historic piece.

Kevin began this form to explore creative boundaries, not thinking at all of the potential profit. We feel tremendously lucky to have received a first quality result from our kiln and wish to share our good fortune. 50% of the sale of this vase will go to charity. To carry on the spirit of Kevin’s original artistic freedom expressed in this dragon we will donate 25% of the proceeds to local youth arts programming (in Lake Mills, WI & Cambria, CA).  In addition to supporting the arts, we feel a strong need to support the hungry in our community. A further 25% will be donated to our local food banks. The remaining 50% will cover shipping costs and the expenses accrued in creating the piece.

The Colossal Dragon Vase Experimental will go to auction on eBay beginning this Friday evening with the auction closing Nov 2.

Update: Thank you everyone for your interest in the Colossal Dragon Vase. The vase fetched $5,487.88 at auction, which means we raised $2,743.94 for charity! We had a lot of fun creating this unique piece and greatly appreciate your positive response to it.


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John – at home

As part of our continuing “Living an Artful Life” series we are featuring Ephraim artist John Raymond this week. In addition to 2016 marking our 20th anniversary, this year we are also celebrating John’s 15 years working as an Ephraim artist. His innovative ideas, thoughtful design work and unparalleled craftsmanship were utilized in the glazing department initially, but more recently John has been the inspirational force behind our woodworking studio. He moved away from the glazing department and developed the wood shop in 2013. Currently, John designs and produces all of the wood items we offer. Clearly the way in which John lives – which is to spend his time taking care of his old farmstead, exploring the way things work, collecting objects of intrigue and building his own (anything) with his bare hands – directly supports his mastery of woodworking.



When did you first begin to explore woodworking?

It has been a long time! In high school I helped take down an old barn for my Aunt. She gave me some of the barn boards and I used them to build shelves & furniture. At that time my buddies would come over and say “let’s go do something” and I would be too busy working with my dad’s tools, the lathe and such, to socialize. Eventually they started to say “Raymond is always in the basement doing something”.


What is it about your collected jeeps and old bicycles that originally sparked your interest?

Well after I graduated from high school I decided to do 2 years of automotive training and 2 years of art. The automotive coursework was focused on theory and that really fit well for me. I like gasoline engines and built a high end double engine go-cart when I was 15. Once I had my driver’s license my interest grew. A friend returned to Cambridge (WI, my hometown) with a jeep and I completely fell in love. While my parents were away for the weekend one time I bought a jeep of my own. I had to bring it home on a wrecker, but had it running in weeks. My love of bikes also goes back to high school when 10 speeds were the new cool thing. I bought my first bike in ’72 for $200, a very good bike at the time. I then started to collect vintage bikes.

John maintains the woods and trails on his land, has planted a Christmas tree farm and has a sizable wood collection to draw from. His frisky dog, Coco, is a dedicated companion.
John converted the original pig barn into useable storage for gardening tools and built a rain water collection system on the structure.

What are your next projects?

What I enjoy most is a challenge. I really thrive on designing, building and testing. Attending shows and viewing antiques spurs my imagination. Basic clean design work, like Stickley designs, appeal to me. I do not care for overly decorative work. At Ephraim I am always looking into ways of improving my wood designs. One example is with the tile stands – it would be great if I could come up with a folding tile stand that would ship flat.  At home I still have the go-cart I built as a teen in the attic. Someone wanted to buy it recently, but I couldn’t let it go. Probably in retirement I will work on it again.

The southern WI land surrounding John’s place (and also the Ephraim Pottery studio & wood shop) is biodiverse, healthy and very green in the warm months. It is truly an easy place to live connected with nature.