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Earth Day at Ephraim Pottery

If you take glaze scrapings from the studio and recycle them into a usable glaze, what color do you get?

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This spring, in honor of Earth Day, we wanted to discover what a recycled glaze would look like on a finished vase. The studio generates glaze waste in many ways. When we wash our brushes, it builds up in the sink; when we dip our pots, it is scraped away from the sculpture; and when we apply glaze with a spray gun, it accumulates in the spray booth.

PrintFor months, we have been collecting these discarded dry glazes. The other day Paul took them into the lab, added some water, mixed, and screened. The results were surprising and delightful! The glaze turned out to be a unique greyish, blueish, green
color with a robin’s egg crystal pattern. We ended up with a small bucket of this glaze – just enough to glaze a dozen vases.

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Laura designed a scarab beetle vase in a small run for this little project. The scarab, often associated with rebirth or regeneration, seemed like the perfect motif.

Sustainability is an important value here at the pottery and while we habitually recycle our clay and other materials to local schools (among many other endeavors), this glaze experiment taught us an important lesson. Orson Welles said that “The enemy of art is the absence of limitations.” On Earth Day, with this vase, we can see that not only in art, but in life, some of the sweetest moments come in the face of the greatest restraint.

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In the Making of Miniatures

A conversation with Ken Nekola & Becky Hansen about making miniatures.

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Where did the notion of making miniature pottery originate for you?

Master Potter, Ken: I have been throwing and sculpting production pottery since 1980 and one of my first experiences with miniature pottery was when I made a small coffee and cup set for my daughters to play with. Subsequently, the pottery I worked for was contracted by the Pleasant Company (American Girl Doll) to make tiny tea sets. I enjoy making these small forms.

Are there any special challenges or techniques required to glaze minis?

Master Glazer, Becky: Sometimes glazing miniatures can be trickier than glazing the same pot in a bigger size because there is much less space to create the same effect. The glaze must be applied thinner so that it does not run over the motif. The fine detailing requires a steady hand.

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Reserve Edition Mini Rose Jar 2015 in Cranberry & Algae beside the standard size versions of the Craftsman Rose Jar.
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Reserve Edition Mini Rose Jar 2015 – Shown in Teal, Autumn Reflections, Cranberry & Algae