Door County is in the unique position of being an “art destination” built on decades of artists, potters, jewelers, photographers and sculptors having have gravitated to this invigorating and creative area.
It’s not merely the landscape artists that draw inspiration from the beautiful natural surroundings of the Peninsula. In 1976, the Door County Potters’ Guild established a formal organization in order to share ideas and their appreciation of each others’ unique and distinctive styles. But even more importantly, they sought greater visibility and public awareness of their timeless traditions. Group exhibitions and studio tours are a key component of this plan. Their annual self-guided tour takes place this spring over two days, Saturday and Sunday, May 7 – 8, from 10 am to 5 pm.
Seven of the eight member’s potteries will open their studios and galleries for demonstrations, refreshments and a sneak peak at the newest pieces of pottery for 2011. Visitors will have a chance to see the inner workings of a potter’s studio and learn more about their individual style of creating. Each pottery will have brochures available with a detailed map to help you find the other member’s galleries and studios.
The potters in the Guild cover the widest range of styles and techniques in porcelain and stoneware clay. They fire using electricity, gas or a wood fire and some specialize in raku or pit firing. Focusing on either functional or decorative pottery, it is delightful to see and use unique works of art in domestic life. Not only do these potters work in their studios on site, but they also represent many other fine artists in their galleries. Choosing to start from the north or south, it is well worth the drive to visit and enjoy all of these beautiful galleries and talk with the artists.
If you start the tour south of Egg Harbor at Chad Luberger’s Plum Bottom Pottery, you will meet one of the newer members of the Guild. Chad works primarily in porcelain clay and makes functional and decorative pottery which he fires in a gas kiln. His red and green shimmery glazes are lovely.
Renee’ Schwaller’s Off the Wheel Pottery is further north in Egg Harbor. She throws and hand-builds in white stoneware and fires in an electric kiln. Renee’ uses the technique known as scgraffito, (Italian for scratching through slip) to create designs and scenes on the pottery before firing. She will be featuring new carved jewelry,demonstrating sgraffito carving, and will serve chocolate chip cookies and Door County apple cider.
In the center of Fish Creek at TR Pottery, Tony and Renee’ Gebauer not only showcase Tony’s functional and decorative wares fired in electric and wood kilns, but they represent many other fine artists. They have a wide array of useful and beautiful work.
Around the bend in Highway 42 on the north end of Fish Creek, you will arrive at the Potter’s Wheel. Abe Cohn will not be open until Memorial day but stop in then!
Brian and Tracey Fitzgerald of Ephraim Clayworks practice the fine art of raku firing in addition to creating a line of functional stoneware fired in a gas kiln. They have a wide variety of shapes and beautiful glazes. Brian’s work and the work of other artists are housed in a historic cabin in Ephraim.
Just before you enter Ellison Bay, you will find David and Jeanne Aurelius’ of Clay Bay Pottery. They both throw and hand-build pottery, specializing in Door County scenes, tiles, and lady vases which are fired in electric kilns. In the ‘quiet’ winter months they develop mural projects in schools throughout Wisconsin. They will be demonstrating how to make teapots and serving David’s famous cookies and punch.
Thor and Judy Thoreson of Gills Rock Stoneware are in the heart of Ellison Bay Their decorative and functional pottery, both wheel0-thrown and hand-built. They have a unique color palette, fired in an electric kiln. “Thor” is well known for his large urns decorated in floral motifs and scenes of the area. Here you can find lighthouses as well.
And finally, at Ellison Bay Pottery Studio, on Garrett Bay Rd., John Dietrich and Diane McNeil both throw and hand-build functional pottery with gem-like glazes fired in a gas kiln. Their pit firings create unusual decorative work. The duo will be demonstrating collaborative sculpture.
The Door County Potters’ Guild welcomes you on these special days as well as throughout the season. Pick up a brochure and take the self-guided Tour. The variety and unique functional, artistic wares are waiting for you and your home. Pottery is the best gift for weddings, birthdays and anniversaries. Can’t make the tour in May? Pick up a brochure with a detailed map and have a self-guided tour any time you make it to the the arts destination that is Door County.