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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: John Geci

Episode 3: Courtney Martin

Michael Kline


In Episode 3 I begin a series of conversations with my good friend and neighbor Courtney Martin.

Episode Highlights
  • the economics of reclaiming clay scraps
  • trying to keep up with popular culture while living in rural NC
  • graffiti and 80's hip hop
  • hoarding bisqueware
  • living near in the Penland School community
  • puttering vs. getting straight to work
Episode Rsources
Names We Drop
 Follow Courtney 
Follow Michael 
Exhibition Links
"Two", Lark and Key, Charlotte, NC
"Greetings From North Carolina" Santa Fe Clay Santa Fe, NM
"Designed and Crafted 14"Signature Contemporary Crafts Atlanta, GA

"Thank" Courtney for the conversation on Twitter

Thanks for listening!!

Unloading the CMP

Michael Kline


Courtney and I unloaded the kiln and we were both very happy to see the multitudes of pots! We weren't very happy to see the pool of glaze around pots glazed with my alkaline ash glaze, though. I think the shelves will be OK after some grinding, otherwise I'll be shopping for some new shelves!

courtney and her multitudes

Courtney was busy getting her pots set up in the showroom of her husband John's glass shop, when I was there grinding the glaze off the bottoms of the runny pots. John has refinished the walls in the showroom with beautiful walnut and cherry boards that he got from Milan Street up in Buladean. Milan runs the small lumber mill and brings us the bundles of wood Courtney and I burn in our kilns. The walls and shelves look super beautiful! The pots and the glass looks so good against the walnut and cherry! (sorry I didn't have my camera to get some pix.) Maybe I can visit over the weekend during the sale and get some pictures.

The Toe River Arts Council December Studio Tour begins tomorrow at noon, and John and Courtney have lots of beautiful work. They are hosting Penland resident metalsmith extraordinaire, Amy Tavern.

We were busy getting the pottery shop set up to host our friend Wendi Gratz who will be joining Stacey and myself for the tour. You can see Wendi's work here! In addition to all of the new work we've been making for the tour, we have lots of goodies for our customers . We've also "spruced" up the shop with a Christmas tree and lots of boughs of balsam fir grown just up the hill from our house.

If you haven't been to a TRAC studio tour before you really should treat yourself to a trip to the mountains to ramble and visit the over 100 studio artists and 9 galleries in Mitchell and Yancey counties!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!(exclamations by evelyn!)

I'll take more pictures of the fresh pots and try to post them tomorrow. Maybe I will shoot a video.

Backstory: 34, The Firing

Michael Kline


the stack for #34

As I gather my thoughts about the events surrounding the loading and firing of the kiln, my first thought is that you wouldn't believe me if I told you. But I guess I've decided to try to tell, anyway. Since I took a bunch of pictures of all of the calm moments, but none of the near disastrous ones, you'll just have to give me the benefit of the doubt. OK?

Tim Ayers came down from Penland to help me glaze my pots and eventually load the kiln. Tim and I worked steadily, mixing glazes and dipping pots. But I must have been in la-la-land to think we could glaze all 300 pots (usually a long days work anyway) and load the kiln (usually a ten hour job) in time for me to get a few hours sleep before starting the firing early Sunday morning! It just didn't add up, but we carried on. [Maybe this is a clue as to why I didn't make it in engineering school so many years ago??!! But, wait, this is simple math! ]

Not to dwell on long ago failures........after a couple of speed bumps during the loading (read: after stopping to glaze more pots) I found my energy lagging as I began the second tier of shelves. It was after supper and I continued to feel a kind of dread. I was thinking at the time that almost every step of the way during the past week had resulted in some minor disaster due to my poor planning. My resolve to work at all hours was getting me only so far and time was crunching down on me.

Then out of nowhere, the storm hit. My kiln shed is pretty big, but it doesn't have siding and it completely open to the weather. When the rain comes down (and horizontal) everything gets wet. And it did that night around 9 p.m. I couldn't cover the pots with tarps, because the wind would gather up the tarps and sling the pots away. I just held on and prayed that the storm would pass quickly. It didn't. Just when things seemed to calm down so I could focus back on the loading, another wave would come through. Very high winds and lashing rain continued. Like sea captain tied to the steerage of his ship, so I seemed tied to the kiln. I stayed on course to get the pots out of the rain and into the kiln!

As I worked through the storm I noticed, and was very grateful, that it was fairly balmy for this time of the year. I should have know what that might mean. shortly after this realization, of course, the thunder and lightning came! So now I'm listening to the "thrash metal band" of trees being bent over by the high winds, tin roofing that covered a wood pile flying away in the dark, and thunderous cracks exploding all around. No one should have been out in that, much less loading a kiln. But being in the state of denial that I was in, I kept telling myself, like the little engine that could, to "keep going, that the storm would pass", etc.

The storm continued for more than an hour and then the next plague: power outage! HA! Of course, just when I thought it couldn't get any worse it did! When any rational, sane person would seek shelter and say the hell with it, I thought in my own seemingly rational way, ..."well, let's see, I can get a flashlight, headlamp, kerosene lamp, etc" So I did. I retooled to finish my job.

The volunteer firemen had the road blocked down below with a powerline down from a fallen tree and the only lights were the flashing reds and my florescent battery powered lamp I was using to load my kiln. Eventually, the rains slowed and the winds moved on to terrorize the next county over. Eventually the firemen got curious to know what was happening with the back and forth moving light up on the hill. They drove up my road thinking they was some kind of arcing power line or something, but they just found a half crazed potter trying to load his kiln. What a strange sight that must have been, to walk up to this dark shed with this big shadowy hulk of a kiln and chimney and a funny looking soaking-wet guy with a hand held lamp going in and out of said kiln! I tried to explain my dire predicament. What part of deadline and loading a pottery kiln did they not understand?! Ha! They were glad that everything was "OK" and chuckled as they walked back to their truck with their flashlights. I got the kiln loaded eventually by about 2 a.m. The power company brought their cherry picker to fix the line and I sadly watched as they drove on down the road, but still no power. Damn. I guess there were more lines down. So I decided to rest a bit and wait until the power came back on to put the door up. It came back on around 4 a.m. and I woke up and went to work on bricking up the door. The door bricks are in pretty bad shape and I made a firm note to replace the bricks before next firing. Also I noticed the door of the kiln is spreading a bit. So the picture below shows how much chinking I needed to fill the gap!


After making this epic confession of poor planning and bad luck, I'll try to keep the rest brief and leave it to the captions. After all, I have a kiln to unload today!

this is how it all starts

balmy sunrise through the pines after the storm

like a dog soaked to the bone, my shed

my clay pit flooded with about three feet of water.
proof of the big rain!

later that afternoon the weather had another surprise, sleet

Lindsay Rogers stoking, notice the smile on her face and the
snow/sleet on the ground?


Lillian tooling up for her stoke!

staying warm by the kiln

Salt! Success!

I realized that our damp stack of wood was disappearing and that we needed maybe another half hour of stoking to get the temp we needed. So I used my "phone a friend/lifeline" and called Courtney and John up the road to take them up on their offer of dry wood. Courtney's kiln is just 0.8 mile up the road and it has the same firebox length, so the wood is the perfect length for my kiln, too! We barely used half of what they brought and got the kiln even all around thanks to Lindsay's great stoking. The Snow Creek Pottery Posse rides again! Thanks Lindsay, Thanks Courtney!!

By 11 p.m. the epic firing was over, and as all potters must hope in a moment like this, when all has been done that can be done, I hoped for a good firing.

Check back (if you have the time) to see pictures from the kiln!!!

If you're still reading, thanks for indulging me to recount this crazy epic.

Just a Coupla Pics Before I Unload the Kiln

Michael Kline

"Now everything's a little upside down
as a matter of fact the wheels have stopped
What's good is bad, what's bad is good
you'll find out when you reach the top

You're on the bottom."--Bob Dylan, Idiot Wind


OK

I've been dragging my USB cable and digital camera baggage around all day and failed to post the other pictures and make further comments on the crazy weekend I had. I guess the "after the firing" recovery has taken more time than I thought it might. One shocking realization is that I'm not in my twenties anymore, and an all-nighter has serious implications on one's memory and alertness. The next firing will be different, I swear. [Or my sweet wife, may cease to be sweet to me]

Here is a series of pictures showing how my plates are wadded and fired. This technique was developed by my buddy Will way back when.


First my wadding station has a soft surface that won't chip the slip off of the pots. The wads are made with stiffer wadding so that they won't collapse under the weight of 4 or 5 plates.


Then glue is dropped on all of the wads, then sea shells from Pawley's Island are placed on the wads to make a nice flashing mark where the wad would have left just a dry white dot. The shells resist the salt and keep the plates from sticking, too.


Then the plates are carefully stacked. Just as with the kiln shelves where the posting has to be supported one above the other, the wadding has to be in-line.


Here is the actual stack placed in the kiln. On top of the stack are some cups that also have shells glued to the wadding.

Speaking of posts, aka. kiln furniture. I wad all of the posts so they will stack without wobbling. Also the soft wadding conforms nicely with crooked, warped shelves! Since I use a lot of these, the wadding process gets expedited by rolling a coil of wadding and the running the wadding along each corn and pinching off a little bit rather quickly. There's no need nor time for carefully rolling wads. These wads are glued on as well so that they won't fall off as I stack them into the kiln.

Link
My neighbor Tom Dancer brought over by a little box of glass from his days as a glassblower. I sprinkled some of the blue granulated stuff on these plates as an experiment. I also took some plate glass on the upper edges, hoping it will run down into the center a little bit.

Here's John Simmons, one of the heroes of the firing, coaxing the pyrometer into the 2000's. Not only did John bring a trailer load of kiln dried 3% moisture oak and poplar from Johnson City. He helped cut and stack it as well. John has a few pots in the kiln, and I hope he'll be rewarded for his giant efforts.


Here's John Geci, a neighbor and glassblower getting it hot at the end of the firing.


Here's Courtney Martin, Geci's newlywed, and I kicking some cone nine azz [as gary would say]. We're also sporting some Ayumi Horie His/Hers T's. Git your magic firing shirt here.

Well that's all for now. I'll unbrick and unload the kiln in the morning.