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July 29, 2011

Two teapots by Richard Bresnahan

Filed under: Our Favorite Things — Lori Williamson @ 10:39 am

The Minnesota Historical Society houses a small but important collection of Richard Bresnahan pottery including these two early teapots. Bresnahan has been artist-in-residence at St. John’s University outside St. Cloud and now operates the largest wood-fired kiln in North America. After apprenticing to Nakazato Takishi Pottery in Japan, Bresnahan returned to Minnesota in 1979 to run the St. Johns pottery program. He is well known for combining sensitivity to nature and a commitment to using local, renewable resources. This is reflected in all his pottery; the clay is gathered from an old abandoned road-bed, the fuel for the wood-fired kilns is collected in a sustainable fashion from the St. John’s grounds or obtained from the waste of local manufactures, and even the glazes are made from local straw, sunflower hulls and quartzite dust.

Bresnahan’s teapots are his signature work. Derived from traditional Japanese shapes and techniques they often have rattan handles made by Minnesota artist Paul Krueger.


A classic shape for both traditional Japanese pottery and Richard Bresnahan, this Double-Gourd teapot features a spiral decoration made of blue slip. The serendipitous nature of a wood fired kiln is seen in the differing coloration on the left side view.


This flat teapot was fired in a kiln configuration called Tagnegashima which reaches 2500° F and gives the pot a soft brown/black color. It also features unusual Silicon Dioxide stone feet and lid handle.


The Minnesota Historical Society also has cups, platters, bowls and jars by Richard Bresnahan in the collection. They will be available for viewing using Search Our Collections soon.

Jason Onerheim, Collections Assistant, Minnesota Historical Society

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