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192 Jim Boone Rd
Bakersville, NC, 28705
United States


The central information hub for Michael Kline Pottery, a small one man shop of pottery making in the mountains of western North Carolina.

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The Best of Sawdust and Dirt

A record of the goings on around Michael Kline Pottery!

Filtering by Tag: 12x12


Michael Kline

12 by 12 (not including the little gem in the left foreground) 
This week has been a confluence of so many deadlines and I have made the mistake of "whack-a-moling" these projects and getting consumed in the process. 

Meanwhile, the BIG deadline is my upcoming firing. So this morning I committed myself to a simple 12 x12. I've been meaning to throw some salsa bowls and finally got to that place on my making list. 

It seems like such a simple task to make twelve pots by 12 noon, but life is full of hurdles between my morning coffee and the making of pots. 

In the beginning, innovators invent out of some kind of personal need. I developed the idea of 12x12 based on methods that two of my pottery heroes employed. Michael Simon limits the the number of pots he makes each day and varies the forms, so that  the focus and variety produces the results/pots he wants. Linda Christianson starts her day by making a half dozen smallish pots before anything else gets in the way. 

My desire and need to get  simple focus led me to combine Simon's and Christianson's methods and come up with 12x12. 

After a scattered week of making I sought to push everything out of my mind and clear the path to my wheel to make just these pots quiet the noise of my deadlines. A construct like 12x12 is just the answer for a Friday morning! 

Made with Care

Michael Kline

I promised myself not to make excuses for my 12x12 tardiness, because your time is valuable to me, but it has spurred some thoughts.

Time is our most precious commodities as creative people. It takes time to make our stuff. Yet time is something I give freely when asked. Whether it is an unannounced visitor to the shop, or email inquiry from a student, or a call from my daughter’s school, I most always stop what I’m doing and attend to these interruptions. I care, right? [I write, right?]

But what happens to my 12x12 rule, then? My commitment to making those 12 pots? Coming up short isn’t necessarily an epic fail. It’s a fail, for sure, but at the core of the rule is that I try. A good friend of mine once advised me as I was faced with a daunting task to just make it look as though someone cares. That thought has stayed with me many years. His idea was a kind of permission, a pressure valve, a prayer from judgment. It’s a concept that keeps us from the brink of giving up, of losing hope.

At the core, 12 x 12 is a motivation, an inspiration, to get our hands on our stuff, to make something. It’s a coach, it coaxes us to just do it . It’s the hope of a small goal leading to a large goal, which is, after all,  the important stuff, the stuff that might seem daunting by itself.

Years ago, my mother-in-law, Jackie, jokingly posed the question, “how do you eat an elephant?”

You might have heard this, before?

Her answer, after my dumbfounded expression and pause was, “One bite at a time.” [canned drum roll and apologies to all animal lovers, elephant lovers, vegetarians, vegans, et. al]

The point is, that by giving some kind of effort, things do get done. They may not always get done in a timely fashion, like high noon, but hopefully something comes out of trying. I tried to write 500 words a day back in January and was able to realize that a week was about as long as I could keep going, but it was a construct to led to really a meaningful experience for me.

As creative people we notice stuff, about the world around us and within ourselves because when we do, when we make stuff, it gives us satisfaction. Maybe joy? It gives us a footing in the world, it’s grounding.

Whether these objects embody that joy that comes from making is hard to know, but the important thing is that we care and we try. No judgement, no critique.

SO haters gonna hate, Time and attention police may scorn as there look at the time stamp on this picture, but here is my effort from this morning, All 13 made before and after 12 noon as several hurdles were thrown in their way. But those hurdles will be long forgotten in the hours, days, and weeks from now when these pots come out of a kiln and the pots succeed or fail in a far more important way.

I guess that’s my excuse, anyway.

[your thoughts are kindly welcome and sometimes needed. they motivate.]

Thanks for reading.


Michael Kline

 I got the message from my "coach" and good friend, Ron Philbeck, to "go make some pots" this morning.

So I did! (after all the office work that was past due.) It was a sloppy 12 x 12 and they came a little after noon, but they are done and I'm off and running for the day. Sometime its takes a coach!
Thanks Ron. [Ron really is a coach. A Crossfit Coach! Go Ron!]

Speaking of coaching, why don't you take the 12 x 12 challenge with me. Post your daily dozen on your favorite social media outlet: blog, twitter, instagram, facebook. Use #12x12 as your hashtag and that way I can find your pics and collect them for a post on this blog next week when I get back from the NC Potters Conference!!

when the boss speaks, you listen

Good Start

Michael Kline

Hitting the ground running.
With just a few days between a really super manabigama wood firing workshop last week at the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts and a pottery show in D.C. this coming weekend, time at my wheel is premium. No better time for ye olde 12 x 12 to get the balls of clay rolling, er, spinning.

These drinking cups are a good form to make on a clear bright Fall morning. While they obviously won’t be ready for this weekend’s show in DC they’ll be ready for my November firing and that’s what matters this morning.

Thanks to the fine folks at Ceramics Monthly for mentioning me in their article in this month’s issue. I’m just opening my new issue that i spied in my stack of mail from last week! Sherman Hall and his crew have been very supportive over the years and have sent many people to my blog’s doorstep. If you’re arriving here at ye olde blogge for the first time, thank you for reading and i hope you will have time to dive into the vast content contained here from my 5 years of blogging. To all the steadies, thanks for sticking with me through these years.