Ephraim Pottery lover, John Hein’s enthusiasm is contagious.

He’s a loving husband and father, and an avid bicyclist who rides for childhood diabetes.

He is also a self-described horror movie buff with a gargoyle named Clyde living on his front porch. Yes, you guessed it, Halloween is John’s favorite!

Although John isn’t tacky or fanatical with his mischievous holiday hoopla, some might consider him a little eccentric. For instance, each October he swaps out his wife, Amy’s prized still life for his Explore Transylvania by Train oil painting to create a Halloween odyssey. Seasonally themed custom and Experimental pieces from Ephraim Pottery—bats, animated trees, skulls, crows, pumpkins and more—take over the Hein’s shared living spaces.

Adding to his collection involves many, beginning with his wife and son. John’s biannual fall family road trip brings them to our studio gallery. This year he explained how he enjoys the pursuit, the fact that he has to arrive on site and in-person to explore the 2019 pumpkin patch. “It’s a whole different reality,” he explains, “I love the variety of forms, sculpture and glaze designs up close.”

John was initially drawn to Ephraim Pottery’s green and crackle glazes, reminiscent of the celadon pottery he discovered while living in Korea. His enthusiasm spilled over into our studio a few years back when a fire claimed all of his cherished Ephraim seasonal ceramics. We couldn’t honor his request to recreate them because the designs were retired. His disappointment led him to learn about Ephraim’s custom capabilities. He was thrilled that we could create one-of-a-kind pieces inspired by everything he loved about his originals. The bat pumpkin became a bat jack-o-lantern, the favorite cranberry bat vase design featured new, three-dimensional shadowbox sculpture with luster glaze. John enjoyed interacting with the artists through sketches and idea sharing. John reports, “It’s unimaginable, but I love the custom pieces even better than the originals!”

Emboldened by his love for surprises and his broadening admiration for Ephraim’s artistry, John then requested his own “customized custom”  process where artists create a top secret shock-and-awe Halloween-themed piece. Of course, he loves surprises!

This idea gets tricky because we customize pieces to reflect each custom collector’s aesthetic sensibilities. Collaboration with our customers in this way helps us evolve our creative ideas to include the ideas of Ephraim pottery lovers. We gather concepts and feedback in places like our galleries, on social media, as well as through this custom process.

This year John shared his Ephraim back story as context for the design and agreed that we incorporate a cauldron theme. We hope that by adding what he calls the “Ephraim artists’ magic” to these foundational ideas, we elevate the project to an awesome surprise for John. Last year’s project was captured in the background of a Studio Scenes email, and consequently several customers requested custom variations of his Twisted Raven Tree House with Tealight.

We believe that from his family to our artists to the greater Ephraim community, John’s one-of-a-kind enthusiasm is indeed contagious!