COLLEGEVILLE -- Hundreds of people came out to St. John's University Friday for the firing ceremony of the largest wood burning kiln in North America -- the Johanna Kiln.

The 87-foot long kiln was built in 1994 and is fired up every other year. The kiln will cook for 10 straight days as about 60 volunteers tend to it.

"For us, this is kind of like a homecoming," says Steven Lemke, Program Manager for St. John's Pottery. "[Every two years] we see a really colorful cast of people who come together to make this happen."

This year the kiln ceremony was in honor of Francis Schellinger, who helped find the clay deposit that is used by St. John's Pottery. Schellinger died last year, but his family was on hand to light the kiln in his honor.

"[He found] enough clay to supply the studio for over 300 years," Lemke says. "He's a very special person that helped inspire some of what we do."

 

Photo by Isaac Schweer, WJON