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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: Michael Simon


Michael Kline

Michael Simon yunomi fluted stoneware salt glaze
michael Simon fluted yunomi
I took this picture of one of my current rotation pots for Scott Cooper, stalwart blog supporter! I thought I should also say a warm "Thank You" to Scott and reader Stephen Dean, who were kind enough to comment on Friday's post. Scott requested a detailed pic of this cup and Stephen asked for an expanded explanation of why those pots are in my current rotation shelf. So here is a #mugshotmonday post for you guys!

First, a prerequisite, please read this brief Coffee Break post.

The pots on the shelf are a mix of function/utility, inspiration, and conservation. Some of the pots are here in my studio because they are precious to me and I don't want them to be in our household, because they might get broken, yet I want to keeps these pots from drying out, so they are here where I can use them and protect them.

When I get a new cup, of course I like to try it out and hoard it from the family. Sometimes I am successful and wisk the pot away to the studio before it gets into my wife's car and lost to her office! It's all fair in love and pots, though, I guess. ;-)

This cup, made by M.Simon was a gift from Michael in 2005 when I was recovering from my hand accident and it was in one of Michael's last firings in Colbert, GA. It has quite a range of color from the tessha glaze over the white slip. The salt has flashed the side you can see in this picture, while the other side of the pot

Michael Simon yunomi fluted stoneware salt glaze
maroon iron red on Michael SImon yunomi
has a beautiful maroon iron red that wasn't fluxed in the same way as the saltier side. In lay-terms, the pots's hues vary depending on its exposure to the salt vapors in the kiln during the firing. The more salt the surface was exposed to/glazed with, the more yellow. 

The inside of the pot has a pale shino glaze with a teeny tiny crackle that has been stained by countless cups of tea and coffee.

interior Michael Simon yunomi

Another intriguing element of this pot is the size. It is smaller than I might make a yunomi. I like more "real estate" to carry a particular surface design so I make a slightly larger cup. But in reality this cup holds an ample amount of beverage, about 6 oz. I think the proportions are right on! It feels great in my hand and is very pleasant to drink from, most likely from its "English" drinking rim. 

I guess, mostly though, this pot represents the love I have for the man and his pots. Pottery has a way of connecting people, make to maker, maker to user.

Last Fall I spent a really special weekend with Michael at the Designed and Crafted Pottery Invitational that he curated. It was so great to reconnect and talk pots. Michael also told me of his desire to cast bronze vessels in the near future. I can't wait to see what he does. [Design and Crafted will return again this October in Atlanta. I'll announce the dates and location when it is announced.]

I'm sure there will be other posts about this pot in the future as it continues to reveal itself through time and use. 

This pot was shared on Instagram today. Please follow my photo "blogging" there.

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!

Coffee Break vol. 35

Michael Kline

Did I hear someone say #MugshotMonday? Or is just an echo in my memory?

Well neither, actually. It's just another volume in the undying series, Coffee Breaks™here at the Sawdust and Dirt BLOG, not to be confused with the podcast of the same name. This is about the clickety clack sound of the old keyboard but I must admit it is a reprint from another "blogging" platform. But, BOY, can i drop links into THIS format like nobodies business!

At any rate, here is the blog post I set out to cross post in the first place,

I met Marsha Owen at the Penland School of Crafts 25 years ago in a workshop being taught by GA potter Michael Simon. I also met Sam Taylor, Aaron Weissblum, Jane Shellenbarger, Suze Lindsay, and Mark Shapiro! It was quite a group. We were all young and wanting to be potters. Sam had only been making pots for a little over a year.

Suze and Jane were #corefellows at Penland, I had graduated from UTK and had only made pots for 5 years. Mark was probably the most experienced one being a little older than us and making pots since high school. We see each other from time to time.

We were all very much imprinted by Michael's demos and just being together working and playing at Penland for those 3 weeks changed us. Marsha and Suze and myself went on to be Penland resident artists. (at different times) and I teamed up with Mark and Sam (and Aaron for a time) as the brothers in clay in western Massachussetts. We lived and breathed pots.

For the last two winters Marsha has been to Penland to work in the #winterstudio at #Penland and we fired the salt kiln together. This paddled cup was in our valentine's day firing and Marsha gave it to me. But it has been sitting in the office at Penland with a little note. So today, I finally get to drink out of it and think of Marsha and all the rest.

Objects have all kinds of ways of engaging us with their forms, colors, and the memories they can evoke.

Michael Reads Michael

Michael Kline

I've really been inspired by watching the video made available through the University of MN and the Northern Clay Center. But as I was trying to show this video on a friends iPad, I realized that the video format (flash) wasn't viewable on it or probably iPhone or iPod touch.

So I took it upon myself to try to reformat the whole video. Unfortunately, that would be a lot of work and energy that I need to devote to my pots, today. But I decided to share this introduction by Michael Simon. I recorded this from my monitor, the quality isn't be that great. But I hope that you take some inspiration from it.

Friday is The New Monday: No Rest For the Weary

Michael Kline

After the Veteran's Day Holiday and no school yesterday, it feels like Monday. But who am I foolin'? I don't really have weekends this time of the year, anyway! I guess it's been a long week, feels more like ye olde fortnight!

Still gawking at the beautifully clear skies we've had over the last few days and finding that the only time I can really be productive is when the curtains fall on all of that glaring daylight. Last night was another late night, but productive. After getting the handles on these really big tankards and retrofitting the lids on a dozen jars, I tore into making some yunomi(i) for the AKAR Yunomi show in the spring.

I know what you're saying, "spring??" Yes, April, I believe. Working back from the online opening, there's the deadline that the gallery needs the pots in January to begin photography of the gazillion cups Then there's rarity of a wood firing in December, here, and you get making them in November! This pottery doesn't happen overnight, ya know!?

[yes it does]
[overnight, that is]
[oh, I get it]
[ ;---) ]

What? All of that and no pictures???

[imagine image of a board full of roundish cups with
dramatic early morning lighting highlighting surface
details of wooden ribs and fullness of form]

What kind of blog is this anyway?

OK, back to some sort of sanity... Here are some ornaments Stacey and the girls worked on yesterday! in porcelain!! We're lining things up for this years BIG Toe River Studio Tour. Folks come from all over the Southeast to this 2 county 3 day weekend Crafts Mecca event! [If you're on my mailing list we'll be sending out our annual hand painted card to your mailbox very soon, announcing the time and dates. And it's not to late to sign up. See mailing list sign up button on the right. It's instant and it's free]

OK, I'd better put my auto-magical blogging pen down and start punching out items on my little chalkboard. I can't let all of this early morning genius time go to waste!

[it's actually just coffee energy]


One Rather Long Ramble: Or Am I Going To Ever Going To Get Back to the Wheel?

Michael Kline

Somehow it all makes sense I guess. There are things in your life that have their influence on you, people, pots, and finger paintings! I just saw this drawing as I was putting together this morning's post and thought, "oh, that's interesting." It could be that I'm drawing conclusions or implying that this drawing has influenced me in some subconscious way when really it just hangs on the door that we go in and out of all through the day. Now I'm confusing myself. Anyway you can draw your own conclusions or draw your own finger painting, or just draw!

When I was at Highwater Clays the other day I bought a bag of Grolleg kaolin for my #6 Tile kaolin slip. Go figure. I call it T6 slip, but it has a little bit of Grolleg in the recipe. It's a recipe I got from Linda Christianson somewhere down the road. It worked really well, so why change a good thing? Well that bag of Grolleg kaolin was $44! Yes, I know it is from England. Yes I know it probably one of the world's best clays. But come on!! I tell myself that it's just a small portion of the recipe and the bag will last a long time. But come on! I putting it on dirt! Oh well. If it works is there a reason to fix it?

[In researching this post, it turns out that all dry materials have gone ¡way! up. Did you notice this, or am I just a little slow to catch on? The Grolleg is actually ¡cheaper! than the #6Tile!! See for yourself...]

I digress.

Where were we?

Oh yes, I pour the slip on the slabs, spin the bat that the slab is on, and then comb away.

Here is the hump mold just after I have shaped a dish. You can still see the ghost image of the combed slip. Below are the molded dishes aprés Bandana. Stacey thought they looked too much like Michael and Naomi's pots. I said, "Oh good!!" I don't think she knew that it was covers week here at the pottery. And what would be so wrong about that, anyway? I guess this idea of originality is a problematic one for us potters.

I also saw some nice doodlings from Dylan Bowen. You can see for yourself. It's a doodle thing! (aka what goes around, comes around)

On to more formal thoughts, or more well formed thoughts, anyway. [damn, ever since Simon's post yesterday, I've been trying to be as clever, sorry, I'll leave the irony to Mr. Levin]

Here is a bottle/vase/call-it-what-you-will, on a specially made chuck for trimming. This series of pots started out as a cover of the Bruce Gohlson "big gulp" yunomi the other day and by the second board of 'em it had morphed into this shape. To see the bottle/vase just hold your monitor upside down, or stand on your head, or scroll down, whatever is more fun, or easier, your choice...
The cup shape grew into a vase shape quite naturally.

Here are a couple that asked for ears!

After that I was back at the treadle wheel for some more trimming. I took the still soft chuck I used for the bottle/vases and reshaped the top to accommodate the MSimon cup covers! The updated chuck's effectiveness was marginal but it worked and I got them done.

The feet were tricky. I soon found that I had looked closely at the finished fired cup when throwing these, but hadn't looked closely enough at the foot. For most of these I had left too much clay in bottoms which needed a lot careful tweaking to get the cups where they wanted to be. A process that made the feet look a little overwrought. Most of them were taller and narrower in proportion than the original.

This one had the nice profile, a decent weight, and the foot was close, but a far cry from Mr. Simon's. The scale is a little off.


The scale is one of the things I like about Michael's cup. It's volume is very specific to my coffee in the morning or a good gulp of water. My version will hopefully find a home where it is "just the thing".

For me, it's back to the drawing board, or rather, back to the wheel! It's getting on noon and here I am at a keyboard!

Don't forget to take this weeks poll! Just a few hours left! Scroll down and you'll find it on the right hand sidebar. Thanks.

Quick Tour Around the Shop

Michael Kline

Just time for pictures and captions. Too many thoughts, so little time to write them down. Maybe we'll have a snow day soon and I can sit down to expand on some of the things I've meaning to share with you. For now, some views of the shop from today.

the shop is full of pots that are stating to pile
up and the plastic is everywhere

speaking of covers!
my buddy Peter Karner made the cover!
I'm proud to see his beautiful pots.
It's a great issue.

thanks to a visit from my neighbor/potter
David Ross, we have this shot of me making
my cover pot of the day

the rim of this cup gets a little bumped around while I flute the sides.
I guess I should mention that the cover pot is
one of my favorite cups given to me by
Michael Simon a few years ago.
it's there on my treadle wheel...
See this coffee break.

the board of fluted cups

Problem Solving

Michael Kline

After rewriting the XML code of my blog template, which took a considerable degree of problem solving I was faced with some pottery problems. The problem with this series of plates was the contrasting colors of clay on my trimming chuck. I trim the feet of these pots on a clay donut that is slightly larger in diameter than the plate or bowl I am trimming. This way I can quickly lift the pot and get a feel of it's trimmed weight and return it to continue if needed. This approach is usually pretty efficient. But with the white kaolin slip already on the pots and the red dirt clay as my chuck I was getting some smearing on the pots.

So I thought it would paint the chuck with the white kaolin slip and avoid the smearing. But since the slip is very fine grained and smooth, I lost the grip of the coarse red dirt clay. It actually was so slick that this plate slipped off the chuck and got some bad bruises!

I ended up going back to three clay coils to hold the plates in place. A little slower, but always reliable.

I usually cut out the little peak that I get when trimming the foot. One of my mentors, Michael Simon always had these beautiful peaks under his cups, bowls, and plates. For many years it gave me great pleasure to try to get a nice point on my pots, too. One day though, I decided it was time for that point to go and decided from that day on to cut it out! Now I call it the belly button!

Every once in a while I leave the point. After all, cutting it out seems a little contrived even though I like the belly button. I think a lot about Michael when I make pots, even though I don't try to make the pots he makes, his commitment and mastery continue to inspire.

Additions to the Collection

Michael Kline

,4 new pots!

It's been a busy week of online commerce and Etsy-ness and I'm chomping to get back in the studio and to make some pots, already, YO! But, alas, there's more packing and shipping to do tomorrow. I've been a little under the weather today and just lazing around and doing paper work. I thought I would catch ya'll up on some new pots that have graciously entered our life here on Snow Creek Rd.

The beautiful little jug on the left came all the way over the ocean in Ron Philbeck's suitcase! Doug Fitch, my Devonshire blogging buddy sent it over! What a treat to be holding on to this sweet pot. I'm sure it will be of help when I get back to making pitchers! It has such a beautiful patina that I'm going to refrain from using the dishwasher and hand wash it. heehee. But it has already been host to some iron weed clippings we made while walking the puppy, Jack. It's a most welcome addition to the British wing in our museum!

walkin' the dawg

Lillian taking a swigg!

A few weeks ago a package arrived in the mail from New England! In it was this beautiful wood fired bottle with nice fish stopper from my old buddy Tom White. Tom's been making pots up there in Northfield, Massachusetts for a good while and recently has been firing the wood kiln over at Sam Taylor's place where this piece was fired. It has a most rich surface and holds a good bit of tea. (tee hee hee, that is)

Next in our lineup of super-star pots comes this yankee-mingei jar made by CT potter (as well as potter buddy), Louise Harter. We picked this little gem up at the Liz Summerfield Benefit Auction a couple of weeks ago. I love thinking of Louise wiping her fingers across this just dipped pot and freezing the moment with fire! Thanks for donating it to the cause Louise. We must talk soon, it's been too long!!

small jar by Michael Simon

Last but not least, it was my great surprise to find this jar at a local sale for our animal shelter. I spotted it across the crowded room as if it had a tractor beam of hotness transporting me towards it. It is pot made by my teacher and friend, Michael Simon! To seize the pot, I practically tackled the people that stood between me and the table where this little gem sat. I snatched it up and guarded it with my life as I approached the checkout table! Well, actually Stacey took it up to the check out table and threw down the bucks! [thanks sweetie] I'm the luckiest guy on earth! I am guessing it may have been made while Michael was teaching here at Penland as he did many times. I ran in to Paulus at the sale and he thought it was from the late eighties! Ha! In 1989 I took a pivotal spring concentration at Penland with Michael that changed my potters life forever. Hmmmmm. Maybe this jar was made during that workshop? Hmmmmmm. Wouldn't that be something?

Well, that's it for now. Just thought I would touch base with everyone who's out there reading and share these pots with you. I hope you'll come and visit our little corner of the world some day. When you do, let's sit down and look at some pots!

Penland Ramble

Michael Kline

Mark at Penland today

I met Mark Shapiro at Penland on or about March 20th, 1989. Wow, twenty years ago! By some vernal coincidence, Mark has been here for a few days to visit and interview Paulus Berensohn and make a few demo's for McKenzie Smith and Gregory Miller's class. Tonight, Stacey, the girls, and I had the pleasure of having him over for dinner.

the original ad from Ceramics Monthly

Mark and I took that fateful workshop in March of 1989, along with fellow potters, Sam Taylor, Suze Lindsay, Marsha Owens, and Jane Shellenbarger, to study with Michael Simon who inspired us and a generation of potters to take the chance of being a potter and an artist.Things have changed a lot in the 20 years as far as how students assimilate information at the school but I would bet the experience of being at Penland is at it's core very much the same. It remains a place of intense energy, enthusiasm, and sharing.

Keeping in touch with friends,
Penland is a wireless campus!

STAR power!

downloading pots?

Coffee Break vol. #5

Michael Kline

Here's a little fluted cup by Michael Simon. Michael gave this pot to my friend Sam when he was visiting Ga a few years ago. I had planned on going down with Sam and Hayne Bayless for a visit with Michael, but was home recovering from my table saw 'incident'. Michael sent this sweet little cup back with the guys and I have enjoyed it ever since. I visited with Michael and his wife, Susan Roberts last spring on my trip to Athens, GA. Michael was doing great and we looked over some of his pots in his house and he showed me his new studio where he hopes to make pots. It will be wonderful to see more pots from Michael when that time comes.