About Simply Dunn

Home of Dunn County Pottery

Pottery, Gallery & Community Event Space

“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

Simply Dunn is located in beautiful, historic Downsville and overlooks the Red Cedar River Valley, oxbow ponds and 65 acres of woodland, native prairie under restoration as well as ponds, and walking trails. The perfect destination for a weekend trip or an upcoming event.

About Dunn County Pottery

Simply Dunn, home of Dunn County Pottery, is a working pottery, gallery, and event space located in beautiful Downsville, Wisconsin. 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 2000, the pottery moved next door to The Creamery building. The Downsville Schoolhouse was moved to the Dunn County Pottery in 2008. The building was renovated and became a gallery and community meeting space.

John hand throws most of the pottery and also uses techniques like drape molding. Many of the glazes are custom mixed and the clay bodies are often made from local clays dug from the surrounding hillsides. John fires the 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 woodlands adjacent to Simply Dunn.

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

They are participants in the Conservation Stewardship Program and were award recipients for practicing exemplary conservation and having the highest ranked forestland in 2012. The 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 Simply Dunn. Gift shop items include local and fair trade gifts, arts, and crafts by local artisans.

Articles About Simply Dunn
& the Dunn County Pottery

A Place for Gifts, Ideas, and Space