Sunset Hill Stoneware has the most dedicated, skilled employees of any pottery company in America. It shows in the quality of each handcrafted mug and handmade beer stein we produce. They care about every detail of your stoneware, from when they start out as lumps of clay to the time they arrive at your door as personalized mugs or steins.
Here is an in-depth look at the skilled artisans whose hands and minds create your stoneware. All of these talented individuals work at our shop in Neenah, Wis.
This blog will be updated with new profiles of Sunset Hill Stoneware’s potters, glazers, shippers and more as we publish more Employee Spotlights.
Every potter at Sunset Hill Stoneware put a part of themselves in the stoneware pieces they create. The subtle grooves inside your mug come from their fingertips as they shape the clay. However, their talents and stories extend even further beyond the pottery you have in your hands.
The brains behind our production operations, Jason Sonsthagen is a master potter who started here before he graduated high school.
In addition to being an Ironman triathlete and an all-around good person, Jason takes on some unique projects for us. Some of his more unusual endeavors with us include giant mugs, unique stoneware trophies and customized coffee mugs for local individuals with rare genetic conditions.
Originally a member of our shipping team, Eli learned how to throw and became one of our artisan potters. However, when he’s done for the day, Eli gets his hands dirty with something else: sawdust. He creates woodworking pieces with both purposes and artistry.
Mike isn’t just one of our fastest potters. He’s THE fastest potter. In November 2019, Mike broke the world record for the most pots thrown in one hour by an individual. Meet the man behind the record and learn about some of his other accomplishments, including keeping aquariums and hosting a dart tournament with some unusual rules.
If you look at the handle on your stoneware coffee mug, you’ll notice an indentation shaped like a thumbprint. That thumbprint comes from our handlers, who ensure that your stein or mug’s handle is secure before it goes any further in its journey. These craftsmen also place your medallions on the customized mugs and steins before the stoneware dries prior to bisque firing.
One of the people hand-applying your handles and medallions is our own Elena Chevalier. Elena has worked in our handle and medallion application department for almost two years. She’s all too familiar with the work that goes into handcrafting your mugs and making them like no other.
Our Medallion Pressers
We have a dedicated team that cuts out every medallion for your custom coffee mugs. These artisans work every day to make sure your art looks perfect on each mug we make. They’re also a vital part of our team that keeps our operations running so we can get your mugs to you faster than anywhere else.
Half of the team making your medallions is Linda Fleming. Linda has years of experience in designing displays and has brought her expertise to Sunset Hill Stoneware for three years and counting. She’s also one of the supporting reasons as to why we’re able to move so fast.
The glazing team makes your mug beautiful, whether you ordered mugs in a natural clear glaze or one of our bolder colors like Electric Blue. They help ensure your mugs will be durable enough to last through years of potentially daily use. However, our glazers are also part of our team of mad scientists—there’s no telling what new glaze combinations they’ll concoct next!
As the head of our glazing department, Wade Pratt develops new glazes and has our glaze colors down to a science. Learn about the tools of the trade from Wade, plus some of the secrets of how our glaze colors bring your stoneware mugs to life.
A lot of behind-the-scenes work in our firehouse goes on before we fire your mugs at temperatures exceeding 2,000° Fahrenheit. Here are the crew members who prepare your mugs for firing.
Jordan Johnson started out at our prep and finish station, sanding the bottom of our mugs for a smooth finish. But, in his free time he makes Jackson Pollock-style drip paintings that are found in area coffee shops.
After your mugs are fired for the last time and ready to go out into the world, our inspection team makes sure that your mugs pass our rigorous quality control standards. If they meet our requirements for size, weight, ounces and more, they’re sent to our shipping department to be mailed to you. They also make sure your mugs are packaged safely before we send them to you. However, when they aren’t running a tight ship with our orders and using our custom packaging to protect your mugs, our shipping department follow their own creative endeavors after hours.
Hayley is one of the team members who makes sure every mug we send out meets our quality standards. She revealed to us that she inspects and packs about one thousand mugs each day, so we caught up with her to see what she looks for in a mug, and how she’s adjusted to life in Wisconsin after moving here from Illinois.
Our Graphic Designers
Sunset Hill Stoneware’s graphic design department adapts every piece of artwork that goes onto your mugs and steins. Whether your artwork is sleek and simple or full of fine details, this dedicated creative team can bring your unique ideas and designs to life.Elizabeth Babicky graphic
Liz Babicky, our sole graphic designer, adapts thousands of designs each year into our mug medallions. A jack of all artistic trades, Liz not only adapts your artwork onto our mugs, but develops original designs for Sunset Hill Stoneware as well. However, when she’s not showing off her mug design skills, she’s venturing into the world of beekeeping.
Our Sales Team
Out of everyone who works at Sunset Hill Stoneware, these are the people you’re most likely to meet. Our sales team works with you directly to help you choose the glaze color, stoneware coffee mugs and stoneware stein styles to go with your artwork.
Brandi Sickler, the head of our sales team, knows our products inside and out. She can help you find a way to bring your most creative ideas to life, and she has completely reversed the way our sales team operates—for the better. When she’s not helping the Sunset Hill Stoneware sales team with her expertise, Brandi is an avid knitter and crocheter who has been working the needles and hooks since she was very young.
Wesley Staedt, a key member of our customer experience team, is one of the people our customers are most likely to speak to. She’s also an important member of our sales team who helps find the right mug for every logo or design. Outside of work though, she has a passion for history and changing the world for the better that has surfaced multiple times in her life.