“Penland has plenty of kilns sitting outside the ceramic studio – and the kilns have names. There’s Lucille, for one. There’s Jin Jin for another. Then there’s the Julia kiln. “Julia” is named after my wife Julia Terr, a former student and teaching assistant at Penland. She died in 2009.
“The original Julia kiln was built with the help of the Julia Terr Fund for Ceramic Arts which was formed to help support non-profit clay communities to underwrite the building or purchase of kilns. When word spread on social media that the Julia kiln at Penland was being rebuilt, I received messages from friends and total strangers describing to me the pots they took from the shelves of Julia over the past four years. The Julia kiln fired hundreds and hundreds of pots during its time, pots that got cleaned up, packed up and taken home to keep as reminders of knowledge gleamed in workshops. A friend told me she owns a bowl from the Julia kiln that has served her granola and yogurt every morning for the past two years.
After repeated firings, the Julia kiln required repairs; our fund stepped in to help. In April, I traveled to Penland to assist kiln-builder and potter Will Baker to construct “Julia 2.” As I handed bricks to Will, the floor and the walls of the new kiln began to appear, rising up off the kiln pad as if it were the most natural thing in the world. In a flash, I pictured the interior of the new Julia kiln, and how it would house and fire another generation of Penland pots. I could almost imagine the hundreds of cups, mugs and bowls and the people behind theses pots. The feeling was remarkable to experience, to visualize this new kiln as a tool for future potters at Penland and all the potential this new possibility encompasses for an artistic community. To me, kilns feel like instruments of hope: a glance inside a kiln and one can only imagine what will result, what shapes and forms will materialize as the temperature rises, what beautiful pots will finally emerge from the miracle of the heat.
“The kilns at Penland touch the lives of so many pots and, by extension, so many people. A new kiln called Julia 2 will impact more lives in the years to come. “Julia 2″ had its first firing in the Cynthia Bringle’s spring clay concentration in April 2015.”