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192 Jim Boone Rd
Bakersville, NC, 28705
United States

828-675-4097

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: Alan Gratz

Still Waiting

Michael Kline


I sort of took a day off on Tuesday.

There's much to do to prepare for the solo show in Asheville, attend to all the business stuff that I dropped to focus on the final push, etc. There's still a mess of slip and glaze to be mopped up in the shop. But I put a few things away and made room for the pots!!

All in all, though, it was a restful day. It felt odd not to be pushing so hard every minute and felt good that the work had been done. As it always does. There's so much satisfaction and relief that comes when that last brick goes into the door of the kiln and the fire is lit. As if the hard part was done and that the firing would be the frosting on the cake. But I can only say that because I always have a great crew that helps out tending to the fire. John Simmons brought all of his wood firing experience to bear and allowed me to take a nap while he single handedly made the transition from the lower firebox to the grates. A job that usually take two!

Alan Gratz made his first appearance since his teaching trip to Japan last Spring. He was focused and steady with his stokes and claimed at one point that he was "born to burn"!! (T-shirt idea!)

Micah Cain stopped by and helped us develop the new salting technique. While John cut the 1/2 inch thick boards to length, Micah loaded the boards up with salt. We then inserted the boards between the opposing stoke doors and rested them there so that the salt vaporized almost completely before the board was consumed. All the while Alan kept the firebox full of wood. [I have pictures on my phone to put here later, sorry]



Last night I took a peek into the kiln which was still about 450°F. Without melting my lense, I got this shot of a big jug with some pinkish blushes from the back of the kiln! I will get it unloaded on Thursday. With 3 inches of fiber insulation, it takes a while to really cool down, and I'm still a little gun-shy from my dunting in the past.

Loading 34

Michael Kline

Just a brief note to all of y'all keeping score at home!

Yesterday the fabulous Tim Ayers came down from Penland where he is assisting Tom Spleth, to lend his help getting the pots glazed and ready for the kiln. Lindsay Rogers came by, too, to finish up some last minute details to some kiln shelves, etc. but by 4:30 I was still glazing pots and realized that the loading wasn't going to happen and that I needed a good nights rest. So I put the firing off until Monday.

Unfortunately that means that my main fireman, Alan Gratz won't be able to make the change to Monday because he'll be going to Japan! He'll be badly missed but we wish him a Bon Voyage. Alan is mainly going to teach a writing workshop there, but maybe he'll get to fire some kilns in Japan while he so does his writing residency. I heard they have a few. Have a great trip Alan. We'll save your stoking slot for #36.

That brings us to who will be there to fire this kiln and once again the Snow Creek Pottery Posse will save the day! The posse includes Lindsay Rogers, Courtney Martin, and yours truly and we all live within a mile of the Snow Creek Road Pottery Corridor. Seems like we should get one of those fancy highway signs like they have in Seagrove to direct the masses who crave our pottery!

Well, speaking of traffic...the weather was really wonderful for glazing outside and we had a few visits over the last few days as people are starting to come out and tour the early spring landscape! The first visitors since the New Year!!!

The shop will be closed today, but I'll be around back at the kiln getting it loaded up with pots, if you care to stop in! But expect to wad some pots! I'll try to send some pictures of the loading as I go along. You can also follow my twitter feed (to the right in the sidebar) for quick updates.

Other News: last weeks Poll is closed. The tallies were pretty consistent from the beginning with about a third of potters who read the blog having internet connectivity in there studios! Wow, it was a higher percentage than I would have guessed. Thanks for everybody who took the poll. I'll try to post my next poll tomorrow.

That's all for now.

Thanks, as always, for reading!

Parting Shot

Michael Kline


As I walked away from the kiln tonight I was thinking how grateful I am to the help I always need to fire the kiln. Alan Gratz helped out all day despite some serious publishing deadlines he's working towards. Alan spends most of time crafting great stories for young adults and has recently published "The Brooklyn Nine".

He really loves to burn wood and has an intuition and focus that is unmatched. Here's to you Alan for all your hard work today!! I (and all of the pots) thank you!

I'm going to review the day and share some pictures tomorrow, but for now it's time to get some sleep. Something that has been a stranger to me lately.

Gratz Industries Stokes Like A Natural

Michael Kline

As far as I know Alan Gratz hasn't fired a wood kiln, but you wouldn't know it by the deft stoking he has demonstrated in just a short time. He is allowing me to take a little break, have some quick noodles and finish up on time for Stacey's Montessori board meeting at 7. (fingers crossed!)
Alan brought his video camera and no doubt be doing some blogging of his own. Those of you all who have been reading for a while might remember Alan from the infamous ditch digging we did back in December. Pictures and video will follow.

The last two hours have been tricky as the bottom of the kiln has raced ahead of the top. Exactly the opposite from my usual strategy. I have been tweeking dampers, passive dampers, stoking intervals, wood size, you name it. It's a damp/rainy day and I'm a little concerned about reduction with those copper glazes in there.

I left Alan with about 2100ºF and I will take my mini lunch break and get bak up there shortly. I have some chinking to do and general stoke door maintenance. More later.