Linfield College students fire ancient Dragon Kiln

Art Professor Nils Lou invited Linfield students to help fire his unique “Dragon Kiln” at his studio in the coastal mountains. VIDEO

Lou has hosted hundreds of aspiring and professional Pacific Northwest potters at his East Creek Anagama Kiln since its establishment in 1985. The kiln is based on an ancient Asian design and was constructed with 5,000 hand-cut bricks. Each bi-annual firing produces 500 pieces of pottery.

The kiln snakes up the hillside, emitting flames and flurries of sparks from its mouth, tail and orifices. The flames are so hot − 2,400 degrees − that the four-day fire is roaring by the last night, and wood is consumed so rapidly that potters are required to stoke the fire around the clock. It often takes months for a team of students and professional potters to make enough pots to fill the belly of the Dragon Kiln.

Firing the kiln is an all-night spiritual experience shared between fellow potters. Many Linfield College students say this is the single most beautiful experience of their college years. 

Lou, now 81, balances his time between teaching art at Linfield College, creating pots and paintings, and writing. Several of his books, including Art of Play: Discovering the Secret to a Creative Life, or, the Goat Who Ate My Art, explore how play is the driving force in creativity. Lou is recognized as an international authority on kiln building, and his ceramics have been on display around the country.

Pictured in the video are Linfield Professor Nils Lou and students Sylvan Tovar, Margo Ackerson and Elizabeth Snyder, along with local potters Mya Hoskisson and Jason Laney. Other Linfield students who attended included Will Bailey, Abe Cattell, Linda Nilsen, Isabella Porporato, McKenna Pyeatt, Katie Skinner and Ali Smith. Cindy Hoskisson organized the firing.

East Creek Anagama Kiln, near Willamina, fires clay and pottery at 2,400 degrees (Oregonian)

Circle of fire: tending the anagama kiln (Art Scatter)


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