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Use the form on the right to contact Michael Kline!

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.

Thanks for visiting.

The Best of Sawdust and Dirt

A record of the goings on around Michael Kline Pottery!

Filtering by Tag: Kyle Carpenter

Current Rotation Revealed

Michael Kline

Here are the current rotation of mugs and cups in the shop, revealed! For the color version click here. Thanks to Stephen Dean for guessing almost ALL of the pots. He will be rewarded with the adulation of his peers.

mug rack with pots from Tom White, Michael Simon, Kyle Carpenter, Shawn Ireland, Mark Hewitt, Bruce Gholson, Matt Hyleck, Maria Dondero, Ayumi Horie, Hayne Bayless
Several of these pots have been featured in my Coffee Break Series.

Here are the links to those posts,

Marsha Owen
Michael Simon
Tom White
Kyle Carpenter
Shawn Ireland
Linda Christianson
Steven Colby
Hayne Bayless

Cheers everyone! Have a great week!


Michael Kline

We come together at conferences to share our fascination and love of our vocation, but sometimes it simply comes down to communing with our peeps! I'm sure there will be plenty of time (when the power comes back on) for instruction of technique, exchange of ideas, and the validation for our irrational passion for the mud, but sometimes it's the simple act of coming together that we crave as artists. It's a tribal thing. #ncpotterconf


cooped up

Michael Kline

Your plate is always full, for better or worse. - Kyle Carpenter, friend, family man, and potter

Kyle Carpenter and Ron Philbeck and I have an ongoing convo. We check in with each other throughout the day [via a group iMessage] and it's a great camaraderie of pottery, family, food, drink. Whatever is going on we keep in touch and share what's on our plate. It's our "water cooler".

I commented that I sounded like a broken record in yesterday's blog post. It seemed like the kind of post I had written a few times before. By broken record I guess I was questioning whether I was saying anything different, was I revealing anything new, had I learned anything since the last time I wrote that blog post. I guess like pottery making, life has its seasons and blogs have their cycles of reflection. Kyle's response was right on and I felt that he was doing me a favor, saying that it was a fact of life for all of us. Maybe especially in this 24/7 news cycle culture and the world of selfies, facebook updates, and the always flowing streaming river of content. But I always have time for gems like this (thanks Doug)!

Thanks for the email comments everybody sent. I'm sorry for those of you who couldn't leave a comment directly on the blog. I'm working on the problem. Like my sluggishness in remembering and reacquainting myself with the longhand blog post, the commenting machine is a little slow to take all of your input all at once. But don't stop trying.

Here are a few thoughts I received today.
For me it's all about momentum...I always piddle around before stepping up to the wheel as it seems important to get my world in order beforehand. Once I start a new cycle I feel an urgency that lets me ignore all other tasks, so putting things in their physical or mental place before I start keeps my mind clear. With the sale of the art center I have much more time for dreaming and playing, but I have to learn another new way forward. Thanks for your comments on my blog...I always admire the way you think!

--Dan Finnegan
And this one,
Great post and so true! I can feel my procrastinations, mutterings and mumblings in your words. Sometimes it is hard to dive in to the icy water but once you are in all is fine. As your friend Mark Shapiro has told me 90% of getting to work/flow is just showing up! We tend to put up roadblocks at times and maybe that is part of the contemplative process. Just saying "Damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead" may work, but you can miss the quiet, nagging voice of uncertainty that may be needed to process direction. There may be no correct process for productive work. Maybe it is just being mindful of the process and not give in to long to the deer in the headlights scenario !  

Best, W
and this,
And a little pressure always helps!!

-- ap
Thanks for the reassurance. I welcome all of your comments, either through the blog or directly via email.

Just to keep you up to date,
  • It is currently -2 and howling here at the shop in Boonford.
  • I have spent the better part of the day dashing in and out of the bosom of home (and wood stove) to cover pipes, install heat lamps and seal up the hunkered down chickens in their coops. Listen to my favorite chicken podcast here.
  • Not much has changed in the shop except the dryness of the pots I made yesterday. The swirl ware yunomi are tucked under some plastic and await foot turning (trimming) tomorrow.
  • Must send pots soon to St. Petersburg, Fla for Florida Heat Surface Symposium show and to the Charm City for the Southern Hospitality show. Grrrr, more packing!
I hope you don't mind the sea of text. My aim is to try to write at least 500 words a day here on ye olde blogge. (not counting the above as writing, just some sort of public reminder) It's like Ron's Whole 30 goal oriented living.

I do hope you are safe and cozy this winter's night.

Conference 2014

Michael Kline

l-r, Martha Grover, Ronan Peterson, and Jake Johnson at the 2012 NCPC (photo: Pincu Pottery)

I hope everyone had a wonderful start to the New Year and shares my excitement for what's ahead!

It will be a busy Spring for me as I will be on a panel at this year's NCECA conference in Milwaukee and I will also be going to the NC Potter's Conference!

It's always great to reconnect and network at these events, but especially great to get charged up by seeing OTHER people make their work. My bro-in-clay, Mark Shapiro will be demonstrating at this year's NC Pottery Conference along with Michelle Erickson, and John Gill! I'll also get to hang out with my cousins in clay and my other bros in clay, KC and RP! At $225 (which includes Lunch and Dinner on Friday & Saturday, and Lunch on Sunday) conference is a no brainer for this potter!

So, I hope to see you at one or both of these get togethers! Let's conference!

Thanks for reading.

Beat-up Old Kiln/Beat-up Old Potter

Michael Kline

As the title of this post implies, this potter is feeling like his kiln, a little worse for wear. Ironically, throwing the pots, working the clay doesn't dry my hands out as much as wadding pots and loading the kiln. Wadding the pots is hard to do with gloves on, and the frequent washing (to remove the layer of wadding and glue from my finger tips) is hard on the skin. Handling the silicon carbide shelves and all of the craggly kiln furniture doesn't help much, either. Then throw in a few times that I grab something hot during the firing with the hole-e glove and you get really dry and hypersensitive hands. My hands feel a little like the skin of this kiln!

But with that whining aside, the firing of the wood kiln went fantastically well. The crew was awesome, the peanut M & M's flowed and the meals were plentiful! John Simmons and Kyle Carpenter were on hand to help finish the kiln after I spent the first 9 hours stoking solo. We missed my Ichiban Stoker, Alan Gratz. Alan was on book tour promoting his new novel, "Fantasy Baseball"! John Simmons was the closer, stoking the kiln for the final 4 hours, while Kyle assisted with the new and improved salting system. It would have been impossible to do this myself. I should also thank my wife, Stacey, for all that she has had to put up with this last week or so, and for her constant support (and fine cookin')!!

And now for the abbreviated Index for 37:
  • Dry wood and a gusty wind helped the kiln climb fast and we finished in 12.5 hours
  • We used half the wood than usual
  • We used a bout 30 lbs. of salt where I usually use 20-25.
  • The kiln was loaded with 300 pots
For now though, it's waiting. I'm trying hard not to have high hopes or great expectations and I'm squashing any paranoid fantasies with the excitement of seeing a kiln full of new pots!

In other News: I'm taking some down time these cooling days to catch up on all the projects that need attention. One of these projects is wring the Spring Newsletter. If you want to receive it go to my email sign up page and sign up!

Unfortunately last weekend's contest didn't happen due to the attention needed to load and fire the kiln. And next weekend's contest will not happen because I will be away selling pottery in Hickory, NC.

So we will hold a 'leave a comment' contest mid week when I unload the kiln, I promise! Look for it!

Randomness and A Giveaway

Michael Kline

Here are some tankards that I poured slip over, leaving some random bare clay between pours. This may be a case of necessity as the muse.

My bucket of slip wasn't quite deep enough for the full dip and I opted to pour. My reaction was really positive after seeing the pattern created from the missed areas. I've done this before, and I know a lot of folks who do this as well. Kyle Carpenter does a nice job of this kind of pour.

What do you think of these?

Leave a comment and qualify for this week's $20 gift certificate! The drawing will be held this weekend if I can get Evelyn and Lillian to do their thing! That should be the easiest thing I've done all week!


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Today and Tomorrow

Michael Kline

After a couple of days of stoneware I hopped back on treadle wheel for my 12x12, this morning. The juggling act may be more than I am able to handle. The clays are so different. But it makes everything in the studio a little edgier, a little more challenging. But isn't making pots in the 21st century challenging enough? Couldn't I be content with the edginess that already exists in my studio? Turner claims that David Shaner only made porcelain in the winter when the snow was on the ground. I can totally relate to that instinct, but I am going to try to stretch it out into spring, maybe summer. I was talking to Kyle today and had the thought that another power wheel may just be the ticket, freeing up the treadle for trimming. Not in the budget (for now). Meanwhile I worked on Ellen Denker's newest post which I hope to upload for your reading pleasure very soon. Tomorrow is a wood cutting day with John followed by a mini road trip to the big city of Asheville for cornmeal and coffee. Actually, John and I are heading over to see Tom's new pots, then to Asheville to pick up some pots from American Folk Art, followed by a trip to Kyle carpenter's pottery empire to see the progress of his kiln rebuild. Then it's off to Alex Matisse's for the monthly gathering of the NC Clay Club!

Got all that? Maybe we'll see you somewhere along the line.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Kyle Carpenter and Tzadi Turrow@ CLG

Michael Kline

Don't miss the opening tonight of Kyle Carpenter's newest pots at the Crimson Laurel Gallery. John and David of CLG put on a great party and a lot of us locals will be there to celebrate Kyle and Tzadi Turrow who will also have new work. I hope to see you there. If you can't make it to Bakersville, NC tonight, the show will be up through the holidays! You can check out the collection online here!

Big Blue

Michael Kline

Drying the last of the big jars out on the picnic table under super blue skies. Whether I'll have room or time to bisque these is the question. I can always glaze these bone dry if i don't get them in the bisque. Loading bisque load number 8 today so I'm on track with my minimum 10 bisque per wood kiln! Probably will be 12 altogether. I also have about 60 pots that were left out of the last firing. Having a surplus is always good especially since I'll be firing again with Kyle in October!

The day has already been productive and it will be non-stop all week. Have a great Monday! Are you GTD?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Random Thoughts While Waiting for Bread To Bake

Michael Kline

12 by 12? Did I say 12? LOL, as they say!

Another searing blue sky today, yes, but not as clear in the shop as to which direction the day would take. It goes that way more often than not. Yet a good day over all. Got the jugs handled and threw a few boards of big cups. These are the one's that became know as breakfast cups after I received a fax from the chain store, anthropologie, back in the day. That's what they were calling it in their catalog and it stuck. Recently I had an order for more of these cups from a store in Rochester, except they called them chowder mugs! Hey it's fine with me whatever they call'em as long as the check is in the mail! Speaking of mail I sent a bunch of pots out from the Etsy sale today! More will head out tomorrow.

After lunch, I talked to Kyle, who was firing his salt kiln today, and we came up with some dates for our October firing in my kiln. After much thought, I was confident (or crazy)enough to think it was all possible! lol [With my adjunct potter, John on board, all things seem possible.] Wood is almost cut, there's plenty of clay on hand. But will I hold up? (or will Stacey put up with me working ALL the time?) Ah, such is the season of revving up and going for it. Xmas is coming up and all of the galleries have their exhibits, after all!

Come January, the only thing going on in the studio will be the cat chasing mice!

While I was at it I thought I'd better ink in this next firing, XXXVI and alert crew members! Sept. 18th (yikes) Better get going. Seems like Courtney is going for a deuce this coming month, too. I guess the the kilns (and the glory holes)are always busy this time of year. The potters are all getting ready the annual Potter's Market in Spruce Pine! Not sure what our neighboring glassblowers are getting ready for since they don't have their own pottery show, here! ;-)

Anyway, back to pottery! Last night I was clearing the decks, putting stuff away and found 3 bags of fire clay lurking in my tool shed, so I mixed me up a batch to pug into my red dirt. After all, with just a few days left in my making cycle, I might as well mix some clay! [evidence of insanity] This dry weather is great for drying out the wood and the pots, and it's already dried the slip I mixed last night quite a bit. Maybe John and I can get it through the pug mill and wedge it in time for some red dirt pots for this kiln load.

Well, no pictures for this ramble. Left the old camera op the hill, but the smell of fresh baked bread is filling the house and the heat of the oven is taking the chill out of the cool night air. The timer has just gone off so I'll pull it from the oven and pull the plug on this for now.

I would promise pictures and further evidence of pottery being made after I finish later tonight, but maybe I'd better cut my losses.

Bread out, I'm out. Back up the hill for some late night pottery!
Talk to you tomorrow.

Oh BTW, don't forget to take the poll. I want to compare the numbers with the same poll taken over the winter. Thanks!

Treasure and Trash: Clay Rescue

Michael Kline

{editor's note}First off, let me apologize, in public, to my friend down Athens-GA-way, Carter Gillies. I shared a private link to a blog, by accident, that he is developing but wasn't quite ready to share. Once again, my desire to share and generally impulsive nature corrupted my better judgment. Sorry Carter, hopefully your crystalline thoughts will reemerge on a blog comment soon!


So, back to my rather random "Labor Day weekend spent Laboring"...

I reclaimed some trimmings from my buddy down in Asheville, Kyle Carpenter. I happened to be in town several times this past week and managed to haul off a s***load of scrap clay that I will happily reclaim and pug this week.
Kyle doesn't have the time, nor the the equipment to reprocess this clay. I guess I don't have the time either, but I do have my trusty pugmill which makes all old clay new again. I know there's no money in this activity, but at the same I'm not spending money I don't have on what I think is around 400lbs of clay. Let's do the math.

my time spent in this endeavor (so far)
5 min. loading in the car
5 min. hauling to the slip barrel
15 min cutting bags and pouring into barrel
10 min slathering onto plaster
? days waiting to dry ( time cost=$0?)
45 min. pugging and putting into containers.

Total est. time= 1 hr 20 min.

considering 400 lbs of zella stone @ .31 = ~ $120.

$120/~1.5 hr = $80/hr (savings?)

I don't know if this is an accurate calculation. I'm not counting the cost that Kyle might have incurred carefully bagging and storing the bags before I hauled them away. Not counting the electricity and the space in my studio the house the pug mill. I'm also not sure if I'll not get more than 400 lbs. Also I was hoping to at least get a sponge or tool of some kind, but I haven't found one (yet). ;-)

I might be forgetting other costs, but with your help we can get to the bottom of this particular clay rescue!

Your thoughts PLEASE! What do you do with your scraps? Is it worth it to you? What is the quality of your clay once it's been recycled? Good, Bad, Not sure?

Coffee Break vol.27

Michael Kline

At long last I have managed to pry this cup out of Stacey's coffee crazed grip! I got this fine whiskey cup from Kyle (over a week ago!!) and have finally been having my coffee this morning. It accompanied me along the way of all manner of chores!

Maybe I'd better hide it from Stacey and have my whiskey in it tonight!
BTW, Kyle is firing his kiln today. Here's to a good firing Kyle!

KC on board for glazing

Michael Kline

Kyle Carpenter came over to help put the tenmo 2 da ku on a bunch of my pots. He also brought a few of his pots to go into the kiln tomorrow. Doc Welty of the Leichester Valley Clay also came out to tie up some loose ends at the kiln and it is looking good for tomorrow's loading!

Blue Birds, Chicks, and Bloggin'

Michael Kline

Spring break is behind us and the chicks were wild!

Even the bluebirds wanted in on some pottery fun!

But seriously, I have been curbing my enthusiasm for bloggering every little thing I do and have found it very productive!

Who would've known?

After a visit with Turner last week and some close examination of some alkaline glazed pots Catawbaware, I had the thought that some of these handles must have been thrown. It's quite possible that they were pulled, but I had a hunch about some of these. After some brief experience over the past few years of my fascination with this style handle, I thought there's no better way except to do.

here's the cylinder that I will cut the handle from.
I carefully scored with a needle tool. If you go too fast you may lose control of the soft clay and bang up the handle.
The cut handle layed out on the table to measure equal length for each handle.
A trial attachment.
The handle with a coil added to the upper part of the attachment and smoothed in.
Not bad to my eyes. But we'll see where this goes. The only drawback to this kind of handle is that it makes it harder (but not impossible) to balance a piece of glass on the handle to get a glass run in the glaze. But I like the lines and the thinner cross section of the handles. I think they will be easier to hold.

Back to it and then a trip to Asheville for a visit to Kyle's and then Clay Club at Odyssey!

Running with the Ball

Michael Kline

Just wrapping up the day with a brief post, here. I couldn't stop making the little jars and working out the handles. When you're on a roll, keep spinning. It probably doesn't get better than the moment when you're in the flow of a certain shape.

The tools are there, the clay is just right, and most importantly you've made thirty already! It's like going that extra mile, or firing that second chamber of a wood kiln. It's the gravy!

the table at the end of the workday

the first series

Another pot that I worked on today was one based on the one that Kyle gave me last spring! I had to smuggle this one out of the cupboard because Stacey has been keeping it in her car! Anyway, what is there about the desire to copy? It is an interesting process, one that we as potters do instinctively, as a way to understand pots, our own pots. I think it's a necessary part of our process. Where would any potter be without mimicking the pots that have come before her or him?

detail with impact driver and Carpenter cup

We build on the history. It's like getting passed the ball and deciding what to do with it. Run? Yes!! So the process works like this for me. I start out with calipers, er, no, just kidding, although I have used calipers to measure and put down on paper a pot's proportions, but that is rare for me. I set out to make a lot of the pot in question. I rarely throw one out, but keep them all to help figure out and compare line, weight, details...Then I make a bunch! Each one in the series is a reaction to the one that came before. I do this until I forget that I'm trying to make a replica and get to a good flow where I'm accepting the way the pot wants to be made with my hands, my thoughts. The original and it's nature are all the time in my mind. The uncountable times I've used this cup weigh in on some subconscious plane. Out of the twenty five that I made this evening, about 2 or 3 were right on. At least for now. The other part of this pottery riddle is that I'm comparing all of my attempts on a finished pot. There is information that I'm picking up from the fired weight, the texture of glaze and slip, the pattern, color. I can only speculate on the way my copies will fare by the time they are decorated, glazed, and fired. Yet I have to start somewhere. Generally features that I pick up on in the original are exaggerated. So tomorrow the riddle of the Carpenter cup will continue and I'll mull over some more thoughts about this process.