Before Ephraim Pottery, potters Kevin Hicks and Ken Nekola, made miniature pottery as part of their work at Rowe Pottery. Rowe had a line of miniatures and sold doll tea sets to the Pleasant Company (American Girl Doll). Miniature-making required a special skill set and when it came time for Hicks to start Ephraim Pottery, he earned extra money working as an independent potter for the “Miniature Pottery” in Edgerton, WI.
Ornaments lead to Miniatures
Hicks’ and Nekola’s experience making miniatures eventually translated into hand-thrown ornaments at Ephraim. The ornaments, in turn, led to occasional experimentation with one-of-a-kind miniature vases. The finely-wrought details and demands in firing present a unique challenge that has taken the studio years to overcome. To date Ephraim has only managed to offer three miniature designs in short-run, limited-editions – all in the last 5 or 6 years.
Little Details make Divine Miniatures
This year, thanks to our master kiln-loader, Alek Schroeder, the fine motor sculpting skills of Ken Nekola and Laura Klein, and the amazing attention to detail and quality of our glazers, Jennifer Alexander, Becky Hansen, and Allison Jelenchick we are able to present you with three miniature designs in multiple glazing options. We are especially proud of the intricate details encompassed in this collection and hope you enjoy them as much as we do.
Introducing the 2017 Winter Collection. May these colorful designs brighten your home during this spirited season and bring you years of delight. We offer our sincere gratitude and holiday cheer for your loyalty and goodwill throughout the year.
This year’s Winter Holiday Series – Lyrical Poinsettia Vase – will be available until all 85 of the numbered edition pieces are ordered. The rest of the Winter Collection will be available in our galleries, online, or by phone 888.704.7687 through Dec 15.
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.
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!
Did you know that we work in limited editions? We make up to 500 pieces of each design. The popular Dancing Dragonflies Bowl is approaching 500 and will retire soon. If you admire this design, order soon!