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St. Ben’s Professor Builds Kiln To Ignite Art Interest [VIDEO]

Ashli Gerdes

ST. JOSEPH – The College of Saint Benedict and St. Johns University recently welcomed a brand new addition to the art department,  igniting new interest in pottery on campus.

Assistant professor of art, Sam Johnson saw a need for the College of Saint Benedict to have its own kiln, so he built one.

“What I had envisioned was creating a program here in the art department at St. Johns and St. Bens that will allow the students to be able to work with these ideas on their own” says Johnson.

Johnson received generous donations from local companies and community members to help fund the project. Numerous volunteer hours went into planning and constructing the Sister Dennis Kiln.

“I had somewhere in the neighborhood of 17 volunteers who worked in the kiln from the 15th of May to the 15th of June. We worked five days a week from 8 O’clock in the morning until about five in the afternoon” says Johnson.

Sister Dennis Kiln is a wood burning kiln, which requires frequent attention to maintain its 2,400 degree Fahrenheit temperature.

“It begins like a bonfire that happens for about 12 to 20 hours, where we are slowly warming the kiln up. Outside of the kiln itself there is a fire, and it slowly builds temperature inside of the kiln. It drives out moisture, and makes everything inside of the kiln hotter. As we start to approach 1,200 degrees fare height…we start to put wood inside of the kiln. That builds up the heat even more. The kiln is fired around the clock for about three days” says Johnson.

The kiln is named after OSB, professor emeriti of arts, S. Dennis Frandrup, Frandrup started teaching at CSB-SJU in 1973 and serves as the artist in residence.

The next time that the Sister Dennis Kiln is set to fire will be sometime next spring.

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