Fired up for the Tozan Kiln conference

Ceramic artists from around the world are fired up for Northern Arizona University’s Tozan kiln conference.

The 20 + 1 Years of the Tozan Kilns, An International Wood Fire Conference will include demonstrations, displays and discussions about the art of firing ceramic objects with wood.

The conference will take place Oct. 11-14 at NAU’s Ceramics Complex on south campus and the Little America Hotel.

“There are going to be artists around the world coming to share what they know about wood firing,” said Sarah Allison, a ceramics major in her senior year. “It’s a great opportunity for me to show my work.”

Organized by Jason Hess, an associate professor of art at NAU, the conference will celebrate 21 years of Tozan kilns at NAU. The only other Tozan kilns are in British Columbia and Japan.

“NAU has, without a doubt, the largest wood kiln facility of any institution in the country,” Hess said. “It makes perfect sense to stage a conference related to this ancient firing process in Flagstaff.”

NAU’s first Tozan kilns, created in the Japanese wood-fire tradition, were built in 1985 by artist Yukio Yamamoto and retired NAU art professor Don Bendel. Five more wood kilns have since been built on campus. A traditional Japanese tea house also graces the ceramics complex.

The public is invited to enjoy the art of wood kilns, too.

During pre-conference activities from Oct. 3-11, NAU’s seven wood kilns will fire up at once, and the public can witness the visual and dramatic process.

From 7-9 p.m. Oct. 13, the NAU Art Museum will feature art by more than 60 conference presenters. In addition, the NAU’s Beasley Gallery will feature an international invitational ceramics exhibit.

For information and a schedule of events on and off campus, visit