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    Jean Elton through the Decades: The 80’s

    August 17th, 2011

    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). Read the rest of this entry »

    Jean Elton through the Decades: The 70’s cont’d

    June 3rd, 2011

    This is an addendum to our last post, Jean Elton through the Decades: The 70’s.

    In 1978, while living in Quechee, NH, Bill attempted Raku in a garbage can in the back of the house. First he put sawdust on the bottom of the can, then placed the piece inside, added more sawdust, then lit it on fire. He put the top back on and left it for about an hour. Unfortunately, when he went to open it up, the flames shot way up to the side of the house and almost caught on fire! Because the fire is starved for oxygen in the garbage can, when the lid is eventually opened, it shoots up very high.

    Bill says, “The house in Quechee was built on a slope with the garage down below in the back and the main living area and kitchen one floor up (but on street level out front). We did the Raku just outside of the garage. Once, when we were finished Rakuing for the day, we went upstairs to the living area to host a few friends over for lunch. As I went to the kitchen to help prepare lunch, I noticed flames outside the kitechen window and rushed down to see the garbage can I thought I had shut up tight was burning madly with 15 foot flames coming out of it making them visiable at the upper stories of the house. Needless to say, I was a little more careful with Raking after that.”

    For more Jean Elton through the Decades, keep checking back in the next few days for The 80’s!

    Jean Elton through the Decades: The 70’s

    January 11th, 2010

    Their journey with clay began in Lawton, Oklahoma, in 1973, where Lois and Bill fell in love with pottery.  They learned there was to be a class at the military rec center on pouring molds by an instructor who had an MFA in pottery.  Upon arriving at the rec center, however, they were disappointed to learn the class was not on pouring molds, but on using the potter’s wheel.  But Providence intervened because their whole lives changed that night.  They loved working on the wheel and they spent many nights and every weekend at that rec center to learn more.  While Bill continued working on the wheel, Lois began hand-building slab teapots.  Looking back now, she says, “They were hysterical!”

    In 1974, they moved to Heilbronn, Germany.  They had a small wheel installed in their kitchen, so they could continue what was then only a hobby.

    lois at wheel

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Jean Elton through the Decades: Introduction

    December 11th, 2009

    Though this blog is relatively new, Jean Elton Studio and Gallery has been around for decades. It is a business owned and run by William and Lois Barker, and has spanned the length of their 35-year marriage. Dishes that they made over 30 years ago are still in their cabinets and used every day.

    They began in 1973 in Lawton, Oklahoma when Bill was in the military.  Lois would go to a local rec center and build her signature coiled vases.  Then, in 1974, they moved to Germany, where Lois showed her artwork in military craft shows in Stuttgart.  In 1977, they moved back to Oklahoma and their pieces were in a gallery in Oklahoma City, as well as The Galleria in Dallas, Texas.  In 1979, they moved to VT and continued to work and show their pieces.  Eventually, after moving a few more times, in 1986 they moved back to Connecticut and built a studio. It started with a potter’s wheel and a small kiln and evolved into what it is today.  Now, they continue to develop new designs for their artwork and dinnerware, which you have seen and will continue to see on this site, as well as in their store.

    For a more detailed history, keep checking this blog for the new series “Jean Elton Through the Decades”.  You will learn how the business started and see the pottery (and the artists!) evolve through the years.