A Kiln Collaboration

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There’s a Christmas-like atmosphere about once a month out at the old Halling kiln.  We opened the cooled kiln yesterday to finally view our transformed pots.  Five days ago we put in our bisqued pots, which were covered in various glazes. Then, a few days later, after a day of turning that brick box into a veritable inferno, we open it up to find, voila — our finished, gleaming, colorful pots!

This October three local women potters collaborated on the filling and firing of the kiln: Barbara Zaveruha (functional stoneware), Juliane Shibata (sculptural and functional porcelain) and newcomer, Glynnis Lessing (functional porcelain decorated with slip).  Individually, none of us could make enough work in a month to fill this large kiln but by collaborating, sharing labor and costs, we are able to fire more frequently and reap the benefits of an age-old tradition of sharing and cooperation among potters.

The three potters

Barbara Zaveruha, Juliane Shibata, and Glynnis Lessing

Each potter has a very different style of work but all fire to cone 10 reduction in a gas kiln (roughly 2350° Farenheit).  Other firing options typically use electricity or wood to heat the kiln.


Barbara admiring the kiln's work on her slab tray.

Nancy Halling, who owns the kiln, has made it possible for others to collaborate in these firings.  Nancy’s late husband Chuck Halling was well known for making functional pottery for many years in Northfield.  All who participate in the firings of this historic kiln heartily thank Nancy for her generosity.

See the artwork in person on this weekend’s Studio ArTour. Barbara’s studio, Prairie Creek Pottery (stop #9), is located at 5873 145th St E in Northfield. Juliane’s pottery will be featured at the Froehle Ceramics studio (stop #3), 310 St. Olaf Ave. Glynnis promises to join us on the Tour next year!


A clay rabbit keeps watch over the burner, bringing good luck.