Tea at the Pottery Studio

St. John’s pottery studio in Minneapolis, Minnesota Credit: Liz Charlotte Grant

Every day at 3 p.m., master potter Richard Bresnahan and his apprentices at St. John’s pottery studio pause their throwing to host a tea.


^Liz Charlotte Grant reads her piece as part of Geez Out Loud. The audio is not an exact reading of the written article.

When I visited, they passed around cups of green tea along with petit fours from a nearby Minneapolis, Minnesota bakery. Here potters shape 12,000 ceramic pieces yearly – mugs, plates, bowls, tea pots – before finishing the ceramics in a multi-chambered woodfired kiln (housed in its own warehouse).

The studio’s processes are fully sustainable. Navy beans sprouted in the campus garden feed the community of Benedictine monks before the plants are burned, making a blue glaze from the ash. Wood collected from the monastery’s grounds powers the kiln. The grey clay originates from local underground deposits.

In fact, Bresnahan has stockpiled enough clay to last 300 years, fueling generations of creativity. This is no “share the gospel before the plane goes down” Christianity; Bresnahan is blessing a future people he will never meet. Listening, I realized that I too had received the generosity of these saints and of saints before them, beginning with the apostles themselves: the shaping of clay by hand so that another can empty its depths, satiated.

_Liz Charlotte Grant is a writer living in Denver, Colorado with her husband and two kids. _

Issue 55

This article first appeared in Geez magazine Issue 55, Winter 2020, Entertaining Angels.

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