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    Jean Elton through the Decades: The 80’s

    When we last left them, it was 1979 and Bill and Lois of Jean Elton Studio had moved to Hanover, New Hampshire.  Bill was studying for his MBA and Lois continued her pottery.

    In 1980, Bill graduated from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth and they moved to Simsbury, CT.  They lived in an old house and transformed their basement into a pottery studio consisting of two potter’s wheels and a small, portable kiln outside (this was the same kiln that had been with them in Germany!).  Eventually, they outgrew this kiln so Bill built a larger gas kiln outside.


    In 1982, their daughter was born but even as new parents, they kept up with their pottery!

    In 1983, they moved to McLean, VA, where they lived in a one-bedroom, furnished apartment.  They had to put their kiln and wheels in storage for several years at this point, but they continued their pottery at the Fairfax County Rec Center, of which they have very fond memories.  Some of the dinnerware sets they made there are still in their kitchen to this day (as you can see after the jump).


    At this point, Lois did the large pots below.  Each coil is rolled by hand and placed on top of each other one by one.  Then she would take a small stone and smooth the whole surface.  She had a friend with a farm, who allowed her to dig a hole outside and fire both pots inside it.  She filled the hole with leaves, twigs, and newspapers, put a sheet of metal on top, and allowed it to burn for two days.  This is called “Pitfire Pottery.”


    Bill remembers: “I came home from work one day only to see the back yard smoldering in several places.  Alarmed, I asked Lois about it.  She calmly replied that she was pitfiring.  She had dug holes in our backyard to accomplish this!”

    Then, in 1986, they moved to Bridgeport, CT and while there, they took a short break from pottery.  But in 1987, they moved to a house with a large, unfinished basement.  In their minds, they saw a pottery studio down there, so in went their two wheels and the same portable kiln that was with them in Germany!

    They spent the rest of the 80s in that same house, slowly making improvements to their basement pottery studio.

    Check back later for more pictures of their 80‘s pottery, as well as Jean Elton through the Decades: The 90s to read more about their growing studio and the evolution of their pottery.

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