Ellison Bay Pottery – John Dietrich and Diane McNeil « Ellison Bay Arts

Ellison Bay Pottery Studios
Across from The Clearing on Garrett Bay Rd., down a long driveway, behind a row of trees and beyond a ledge of limestone sits the fruit barn built in the early 1930s’ by Sid Teller, Sr. and remodeled by John Dietrich in the 1970s’.
Sid bought the property for his orchard, named Driftwood Farms between 1918 and 1930 while he was managing Ellison Bay Orchard Company, located where Clay Bay Pottery is today.   He planted almost 200 acres of cherry and apple trees in that time.  He had to blast a hole in the limestone for each tree, and he planted 100 trees per acre.  He used the limestone from that blasting for the stonework on the barn, where he sorted, stored and packaged the fruit.
John bought the barn and 10 acres in 1974 and transformed it into his studio, gallery and home.  There were no modern conveniences at the time, so it was much like camping, for three years.  The property was also the migrant camp, so there were several picker sheds around the great circle which were later moved.  Alongside the driveway was the shower house which provided showers, laundry facilities and cooking water for the migrant workers.  Many children who grew up at the Farms have returned with great stories of working with Mr. Teller, who insisted the worker’s children attend the local school before allowing them to work.
John and his wife Diane McNeil make functional stoneware and pit fired ceramics in the studio that was built by German POWs in 1943.  They also represent painters Tom and Margaret Dietrich, John’s parents.  Tom helped design the curriculm and teach at the Clearing with Jens Jensen.


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