In the mid-nineties, with the rise of the cubicle and mass-produced goods, Kevin Hicks revered a time when people made objects by hand. Hicks, a skilled potter with a business degree, imagined a modern artisan guild where collaboration could thrive and handmade products showed the hand of the maker.
In the first two years, Hicks focused on equipping a workable studio and developing the characteristic Ephraim style.
Caption: Potter Kevin Hicks founded Ephraim Pottery in a small studio space in Deerfield, Wisconsin. The studio relocated to a larger studio in the countryside outside of Deerfield in 1997 (above).
Caption: In 1997, Ephraim Pottery attended its first shows – The Grove Park Inn, Craftsman Farms, and the Pasadena Heritage Show
During this period, the fledgling studio had found a solid audience interested in Arts and Crafts Revival Pottery and began to expand into original, more adventurous designs. Our expanded oeuvre stemmed from traveling to shows and adding new artists Laura Klein, John Raymond, and Ken Nekola to the studio.
Caption: Laura Klein (above, far left), Ken Nekola (above, center, left), and John Raymond (above, far right) all joined the studio in the early 2000’s. The studio also designed its first bat vase (above, center right).
The years leading up to the studio’s ten year anniversary were marked by rapid expansion. During these years there were many notable events. Due to an increase in collectors the studio experienced a nine-month lead time for pottery.
Caption: The holiday party became an annual event (above, left). Ephraim reached the 500 limited-edition mark with the Narcissus Bud Vase -a first for the studio (above, center right) and the vases in the Bird Series became iconic designs from this era (above, right).
During this time, the studio became situated in its current surroundings in Lake Mills, Wisconsin. Ephraim also opened two galleries – one in hometown, Lake Mills and another one in Cambria, California.
Caption: In 2008, Ephraim renovated the dirt floors and crumbling fieldstone walls of the Old Municipal Building in Lake Mills for our light and bright studio.
Caption: In 2011 Ephraim opened a gallery in Cambria, California (above, right) and in 2012 the studio opened a new gallery in downtown Lake Mills, Wisconsin (above, left).
The last five years have been highly creative. The studio opened a woodshop, pioneered low relief designs, engineered a new tile-making system, began teaching workshops, experimented with accent lighting, and celebrated our twenty year anniversary.
Caption: In 2013 Ephraim Pottery opened a woodshop to make Arts and Crafts style quarter-sawn oak frames, tile stands, and shelves (above, left). The studio added innovated new low relief designs, exemplified by the Lyrical Poppy Vase (above, center left) and offered new lighting options (above, center right). We celebrated our 20 year anniversary with a commemorative stamp and began offering limited edition seasonal collections (above, right).
Ceramics is a never-ending source of inspiration. The more we work in ceramics, the more ideas flourish. As we continue to expand our studio and encounter new artists, their new perspectives open us up to fresh avenues of exploration. Right now is a profound time of appreciation. We have spent the last 20+ years refining our collaboration model and the mood in the studio is dynamic and thriving. The future seems as wide open as it has ever been.