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Woodfired Pottery & Gifts

About Dunn County Pottery

Wisconsin Pottery & Gift Gallery

About Dunn County Pottery

“Living here, in a small rural community with the beauty and wildness of the river bottoms at our back door, reminds us to take a deep breath and let go. We offer this space in the hope that it will allow people to slow down and spend time together. The most important things in life are friends, family, and community.”
– John Thomas & Kathy Ruggles, owners

Dunn County Pottery, is a pottery and gift shop located in beautiful Downsville, Wisconsin. The property overlooks the Red Cedar River Valley, oxbow ponds and 65 acres of woodland, native prairie under restoration as well as ponds, and walking trails. Close to Eau Claire, Wisconsin and Minneapolis, Minnesota, it is the perfect destination for a family outing or a visit for easy local gift shopping.

Potter John Thomas founded the Dunn County Pottery in 1973. John apprenticed as a potter on the island of Awajishima, just south of Kobe, in central Japan between August 1971 and September 1972. He learned traditional production pottery, dug local clay from the earth, and learned to mix glazes by hand.

In 1985, John moved his pottery and showroom to The Creamery Restaurant and Inn, a joint venture by the Thomas family, which included a fine dining restaurant, gift shop, and inn rooms in the renovated historic creamery building.

In 2000, the pottery moved next door to The Creamery building. The historic Downsville Schoolhouse was moved to the Dunn County Pottery in 2008 to be a pottery showroom and event center. In 2020 John and Kathy moved their residence to the historic schoolhouse. John continues to make pottery in his workshop and make pottery sales from the small gallery.

John Thomas hand throws most of the pottery and also uses techniques like drape molding and stamping. Many of the glazes are custom mixed and the some of the clay bodies and glazes are made from local clays dug from the surrounding hillsides. John fires many pots in gas and electric kilns throughout the year.

His favorite pots are wood fired in a three chamber noborigama kiln, or climbing kiln, that was built by hand and is made of brick. This large kiln is generally fired twice a year just before the pottery hosts an open house. One small chamber in the kiln is reserved for salt firing, which increases the intensity of the colors created by the flames. The kiln is often fired with wood John sources from the restoration of the adjacent woodlands.

Dunn County Pottery

Sustainable practices

Sustainability and care for the environment are a primary focus of owners John Thomas and Kathy Ruggles.

Participants in the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), they received an award for practicing exemplary conservation and having the highest ranked forestland enrolled in CSP in 2012. The Simply Dunn facility is powered by a 10.8 kilowatt 48 panel fixed solar array, which is connected to the grid, and provides all the power needed for Kathy and John’s home and business. The array was installed by local company Next Step Energy. Gift shop items include local and fair trade gifts, arts, and crafts by local artisans.

Leader Telegram | September 10, 2016

Leader Telegram | December 13, 2014

Leader Telegram | December 13, 2014