Saint Johns Pottery Studio on Advancer Kiln Shelves

Richard Bresnahan
Saint John’s Pottery Studio
County Road 159
Collegeville, MN 56321

Richard Bresnahan 

Saint John's Pottery engages students, apprentices and visiting artists in the work of artistic creation, discipline, and the research and preparation of natural materials. All of these experiences are framed by questions of what it means to envision and create a sustainable living system.

The loading technique in our wood fired kiln uses a combination of a sand, alumina hydrate, kaolinetic clay mixed with reground, fired wadding that separates the shelves from posting, and allows the kiln shelves to expand and contract with reduced friction stress. An alumina hydrate/sand kiln wash between clay wadding and the shelves also reduces friction, but is not used on the entire shelf. We often load larger works that span across shelf seams and shelf stacks that reach six feet in height, the choice to use Advancer® kiln shelves has been an advantage since they are much easier to level than thicker shelves.

Besides being easier to level, the people at Saint John’s Pottery have experienced several additional benefits from their Advancer kiln shelves. Specifically, they’ve found Advancer shelves remarkably easy to clean, which is important since in some locations of the wood fired kiln there is often beading of ash glaze present on the shelves. Because they are lightweight, Advancer kiln shelves are easy for one person to work with in loading, particularly when stacked above chest height. “Since we regularly train new people in loading and stacking techniques in our multi- chambered wood fired kiln, choosing kiln shelves is an important decision for the people at Saint John’s Pottery.”

Saint John’s Pottery primarily uses Advancer in the second chamber of their wood kiln, which is exclusively used for glaze ware. This chamber is preheated over several days by the first firing chamber, allowing for a very gradual increase in temperature, and 4-8 hours of actual stoking of the glaze chamber. They have also used Advancer shelves in gas firings with good results.

Overall, the people at Saint John’s Pottery have been very pleased with their Advancer shelves. Here’s what Richard Bresnahan, director of Saint John’s Pottery Program, had to say: “Advancer kiln shelves have been a very good investment, and haven’t shown any serious signs of wear. They have been very flexible in loading, and have saved us time and space in loading. We have been working with Smith-Sharpe for 31 years, and both customer service and technical assistance have been far above what we have experienced with other companies!”

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