The Saint John’s Pottery lighting ceremony and kiln firing is Oct. 20

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October 4, 2017

Kiln Firing

Johanna Becker, OSB, — for whom the kiln is named — lights the kiln during a previous firing.


Richard Bresnahan, master potter and Artist-in-Residence.

The public is invited to the 2017 lighting ceremony and kiln firing of the Johanna Kiln at the Saint John’s Pottery. The lighting event begins at 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 20, and the kiln firing continues through Sunday, Oct. 29. 

The Johanna Kiln is the largest wood-burning kiln in North America. Firing a kiln of this scale is the result of two years of planning. Local clay and glaze materials are prepared, and Forest Stewardship Council certified firewood is gathered from the Saint John’s Abbey Arboretum. 

Designed and built by Master Potter and Artist-in-Residence Richard Bresnahan, the Johanna Kiln can hold up to 12,000 works of pottery and sculpture. 

The firing will also include works by participants of the Saint John’s Pottery Jerome Foundation Emerging Artist Program (Debra Keyes, Nadine Terk, Jason Jaspersen and Cadence Nelson), as well as pieces by visiting artists from around the world. 

For the participants, a kiln firing is in some ways like a homecoming. Several large crews gather to maintain the fires over a continuous 10-day period. Key to each firing is the one-of-a-kind sense of community that forms among participating artists, volunteers and visitors. 

The event will be held in honor of Mitsuo Kakutani, a potter and sculptor who studied at the University of Iowa and taught at Earlham College. He was a tremendous influence to countless students and potters whom he graciously mentored. Kakutani championed wood-firing at Saint John’s University, helped build the Johanna Kiln and participated in 28 wood firings with the Saint John’s Pottery. He passed away May 24, 2017. 

About the Saint John’s Pottery

For over 35 years, the Saint John’s Pottery has embodied a commitment to the integration of art and life, the preservation of the environment, the linkage between work and worship and the celebration of diverse cultures. 

The studio engages artists, students, and visitors in the work of artistic creation in relationship to the natural environment.  It supports an Apprenticeship Program and an annual Jerome Foundation Emerging Artist Program.