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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: Arrowmont

Arrowmont and Beyond!

Michael Kline

participants in the ACC Convening at Penland last month

I've just spent the morning doing paper work for my workshop at Arrowmont next September! OOO fun, fun! But seriously, it's pretty exciting to plan a workshop! The paperwork is a reality to assure that everything is in place for this one week adventure into wood firing and pottery making!

Just for you I will leak the course description to be published next month in the Arrowmont catalog:

Wood Fired Pots: Expect the Unexpected

The wood kiln is a great vehicle for expressing our best intentions and celebrating the process and the natural effects of fire on clay. We'll experiment with brushes and discuss imagery to create simple or complex patterns in slips and glazes. BYOB (bring your own cone 10 bisque ware) to be fired in the wood kiln. While we wait for the kiln to cool, we'll make pots of all sizes and join in a series of fun exercises that are guaranteed to brush up your decorating & painting skills!

Here is the longer description:

This will be an action packed week that will begin with decorating/glazing your pots to be fired in the manibigama wood kiln. Bring cone ten stoneware pots that have been bisque fired. We will load the kiln and fire the kiln paying close attention to the effects of different kinds of wood and frequency of stoking. We will use our sense of seeing, hearing and smell to understand what’s happening inside the kiln! While the kiln cools, we will make pots and do lots of fun brushwork exercises. I will demonstrate how to make pots of all sizes, especially larger pots. We will explore brushes, pattern making on the pottery surface, slip/glaze strategies, and other decorating techniques including my pigmented wax resist technique. In addition, I will discuss my blog and how it informs my studio practice. We will discuss various approaches to this online media and how it is shaping our pottery field. At the end of the week, we will unload the wood kiln and assess the results and have an informal critiques of the pots.

As I read these I am reminded of the tone of voice pro athletes fall into when being interviewed, or the tone that a museum docent falls into when giving a tour of a exhibition. You know that tone?

Anyway, I also wrote a brief statement for the American Craft Council's for the symposium, "Convenings", I attended at Penland a few weeks ago. Yea, I was supposed to submit this before the symposium, but just managed to get it together this morning. It's pretty brief because I had to send it in "Now", as the email I received stated! Well, the question was, after all, Why craft NOW?
Why craft now?

As a maker my question is usually why craft then? As a potter I tend to look at the history of my craft as a well to dip my hands into and a fire to keep stoking.
In typical Kline fashion I avoid actually answering the question by restating the question and then giving a rather mysterious and vague poetic kind of answer. Hmmm. Suspicious art speak?

I'd better get back to work. Please take aim at these words. Maybe it's not too late to edit for future consumption.

Oh, and don't be like me and procrastinate! Sign up for the Arrowmont workshop ASAP! The catalog comes out next month but you can preview the 2011 Workshop listing and reserve your spot by calling 865-436-5860!!!


Michael Kline

one of the great satisfactions of loading the jigsaw pieces of a kiln load
is the orderliness of the stack:
a sort of re-centering of the pots after
the shuffling of decorating and glazing.

What a week! What a month!

It's been quite a roller coaster ride this time around and I've taken the last few days to regain a foothold on the life. The kiln cools as I grab the domestic baton that Stacey has handed to me as she teaches at Arrowmont this week. I've traded a hectic life of pottery for the hectic life of Mr. Mom! It's been interesting to say the least. For the last 2 and a half weeks the girls haven't seen much of me and now I'm all they have here at the homestead. We're all holding on to each other as if we're on some sort of life boat waiting for Stacey to return on Saturday! Well, it's not that bad, I'm being a little melodramatic. But we do miss her!!

There's much to tell you about, but I'm afraid that so much will be swept away with the unloading of the kiln tomorrow and the events of the next few days, which I will have no choice but to give more attention to because they will be front and center in this potter's life. I do hope I can look back and write about last weekend's loading and firing of the kiln. Maybe I can weave in some before and after pictures with tales of the perils and the ecstasy of long hours, hard work, and the help of friends and family.

UC V Report, Part II

Michael Kline

When my hands weren't full of slurry I wandered around and visited other demos happening in other parts of the main building and the clay studio. Here are some more pictures from my pitiful cell phone lens taken at the symposium last week. Everyone had a camera! Some had camcorders and some had tripods. (look out youtube!)

Ron Meyers

Here is a true master, Ron Meyers, at work painting a plate. The press pool was all around and he took the constant flashing pretty well. A real pro. Ron flowed throw his pots with grace, all the while keeping a steady banter with the crowd. He has done countless workshops/demos/symposia over the years. When I was a student at UT Knoxville, Ron came there for a couple of days with his neighbor Michael Simon. Without a doubt, I was blown away then and I was blown away again at Arrowmont.

Andy Brayman

I got excited about decals and screen printing by Kansas City artist, Andy Brayman. In the above picture, Andy is trimming a huge decal of his own hands that he will fire onto a dinner plate. I hadn't met Andy before the symposium and we had some great conversations. I don't know how decals, etc. will fit into my old timey wood fire genre, but it's going to be very interesting when it does. You can find out more about Andy's work at his web site, here. Andy was part of a panel discussion along with Mark Shapiro and Linda Sikora. He showed some very interesting trends with customization of consumer products that included the mini Cooper and a set of artist/designer dishes that were being bandied about for a mere 10000 £.

One of the favorite events of the quadrenially held symposium is the potter's favorite pots discussion. Here are the pots that all of the presenters brought to show and tell. Can you name some of the potters who made these?

potter's favorites

Ken Shipley Jar at Arrowmont

Michael Kline

I have wanted to write a little about my experience at the symposium at Arrowmont, but have been spending a lot of time recovering and refocusing. Now that it is Wednesday evening and I had a spare moment from a busy day of catch up, I wanted to start with this piece. It is a wood fired jar by Ken Shipley located in my room at the Staff House. I shared the suite with my old pal Mark Shapiro. When I walked into the room, I spotted it right away. To borrow a phrase from Kim Ellington, I could have spotted it from 55 mph. I knew Ken Shipley at the University of TN Knoxville. Ken was a graduate student and was my very first teacher at UT when I took that fateful night class in 1983 that started it all. Although I seem to remember that Ken had to pass the baton at some point during that summer class, I got to know him after I become a real student in the pot shop. I was pretty new to pot shop and to the salt kiln and the anagama and helped out at a couple of firings along with Ken's firing buddy, Pat Houston. Ken made a lot of these jars, some of them pretty massive. I remember going into his studio and smelling the clay that Ken had stored in big garbage cans. It had a peculiar odor of sour beer and who knows what else. Of course everything about his studio had some sort of intrigue. Ken inspired me to try to make big pots and use the anagama in my later undergrad years.
Enough nostalgia, let's get back to this jar. I took a good look at it and noticed some beautiful subtle colors that are somewhat noticeable from this picture that I took with my cell phone. I'm not sure whether the patterns are solely from the flame. I seem to remember Ken wrapping pots with straw soaked in salt, but it's been a really long time. It's a real beauty. It was the next best thing to seeing Ken who I haven't seen in some years. He now teaches at Austin Peay State University in my hometown of Clarksville, TN. Here is Ken's web site if you want to see what he's been doing lately.

Here are a couple of old pictures I retrieved from the vaults showing the firebox of the former UTK anagama built* in 1981(?) by Shiro Otani at the Melrose Ave studio. On the right is a picture of the kiln and that's Peter Rose chopping wood. (I can't remember if I have already published these pictures in another post.) Peter lives and makes pots in Knoxville to this day but hails from Australia. After Kenny graduated and moved on Peter came around, (thank God!) and helped all of us Art students fire the kiln. We were pretty much clueless. I had helped Kenny fire a couple of his kiln loads, but really hadn't fired by myself. So, I owe a lot to Ken and Peter!

All these memories (and I could go on, but I'll spare ya for now) from a jar.

The kiln was actually built by Ken Shipley, Stephen Frazier, Patrick Houston, and others after the kiln built at Arrowmont built by Otani.


Michael Kline

The Utilitarian Clay Conference was a very intense and gratifying experience. Being a presenter was like a dream and even on the last day when we all sat on the stage talking about our favorite pots, I was still pinching myself, thinking how lucky I was to be part of this rare and fantastic event. I had great conversations late into the night with my colleagues and heros. There were also great discussions from all of those who came and gathered in the demo rooms. I wanted to thank all those folks who came up and introduced themselves to me (I hope you're reading!) and appreciate their kind words.
Sitting here today, I still can't believe it happened, but seeing the nice pictures that Tracey took is proof that it actually happened and that I was there after all. I was sad that I didn't get to see Daphne Hatcher, Bede Clarke, Linda Sikora, and Ayumi Horie make their work. We all were "working" at the same time in separate rooms. Arrowmont will be releasing podcasts of the symposia , maybe I can catch up then. I'll be sure to post links here when that happens in the near future. Until then I will be collecting my thoughts and sharing the few pictures I had time to take at the symposium this week.
[the picture above has some beauties by my Penland buddy, Jane Shellenbarger who now teaches at Marquette in Michigan]

Heading Over The Mountain

Michael Kline

In all seriousness, here is the "set list" for the upcoming conference at the troubled Arrowmont School. I hope that I will get to meet some of you if you're attending. I'm also looking forward to seeing some old friends. Usually these sessions are 2-3 hrs. These descriptions are usually pretty ambitious, with all the talk, question, and answer, I will be lucky to get a couple of the things on these lists done. But with just a little bit of focus...
for Thursday,
Demo #1 “Plates, Pitchers, Jars”

Description: I will throw small to large forms to be decorated. I will discuss my throwing evolution from “art school to old school”, tableware vs. bigware. A particular topic of discussion will be “capping”, a technique used in joining 2-3 sections of a pot.
and for Thursday/Friday
Demo #2 “Edges, Lids, Handles”

Description: I will finish pots from Demo #1 using wire cutter, fitting lids, and adding handles. Emphasis will be on preparing the pot for decoration, firing effects, etc. If time permits I will begin decoration demo.


Demo #3 “deco-rotation”

Description: I will survey the many surface strategies I employ, including underglaze brushwork, wax resist, dipping, pouring, slip trailing. Discussion emphasis will be on surfaces and firing with wood and salt.
I think I may end up doing more on the brushwork end of making, since that is something that not many people will be doing. I'm looking forward to seeing some of the demo's myself, especially Ursula Hargens and Bruce Cochrane! Of course I've always wondered how Ayumi makes her pots and will hopefully get to see her as well. There will be surprises and inspiration, no doubt. I will try to blog while I am there. I'm not sure how, we'll see.

Today, I'll get my clay ready, assemble the tools I'll need, and pack a few pots that will serve as finished examples. I'll be bringing some pots that will be for sale as well, so bring your checkbooks or debit cards!

Boy, yesterday was a big day on the blog, over 400 page views! Wow! If you're new, sign up with my commenting service, Disqus, and join in the fun, leave a comment, let us know what you think.
Thanks for reading.

P.S. Thanks for all the joke suggestions, here's just one from my mother-in-law, Jackie, who, like me, loves a bad pun:
A small boy swallowed some coins and was taken to a hospital.

When his grandmother telephoned to ask how he was,

a nurse said, 'No change yet.'