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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: New Studio


Michael Kline

last night's glorious crescent

Ah, summer is upon us, Solstice approaches and we're all busy getting things done. It may be pottery or in my case getting the shop finished. Actually I did a little while Buck Pollard and John Hagy did a lot.

Where to begin?

In preparation for my "Cousins in Clay" gig in Seagrove, Stacey reminded me that I needed to check in with Bruce and Samantha to see if there was anything I could do to help them set up their home and studio for the big weekend. It turns out that "apparently" Samantha's Dad had hurt his back and they needed me to come a little early. Bruce had a slightly hesitant tone in his voice and I thought that he just felt bad asking me to come early. "No problem," I said, and off I went to Seagrove.

After I washed some windows at the Bulldog Studio, Bruce discussed a plan to cover the windows for the slide presentation for Tommy McPherson that Saturday night. I was a little puzzled by this. Why did I just spend all that time washing a dozen sliding glass door-sized windows, just to have them covered? Hmmm...

I thought that Bruce and Samantha must have been under a lot of stress in preparing for the weekend that they just weren't thinking straight. So I went along with it patiently, not knowing that it was just a way to keep me busy during my extra day in Seagrove.

Well the weekend was a smashing success, and on Monday I came home to the fanfare of hugging, cold beers, and cheeseburgers on the grill! What did I see, though, as I glanced up the hill toward the shop? Someone had nailed a whole lot of boards to the side of the shop. Huh? At that point Stacey and the girls screamed, "Surprise!!!"

Stacey had cooked up a fantastic scheme to have the siding installed on the shop while I was away in Seagrove at the "Cousins" show! Everyone was in on it except me! The lumbermill, Buck and John, the girls! It was truly a wonderful surprise!

Stacey had called Bruce days earlier to set up the ploy to get me out of the way so that her plan could be implemented! John and Buck paced up and down the road as I finished packing the car with pots, waiting to get on the job.

Well they finished the back and the road side of the building and stopped there until this week when I helped them finish the "front" of the shop with the German lap siding I had picked up from Shawn more than two years ago.



The siding was stickered and still in good shape, a little weathered, but sound. It gave the entrance of the shop a completely respectable and finished look and I'm sure that pottery fanactics will just flock to it's beauty!

john hagy, me, buck pollard

Thanks to my lovelies for this wonderful gift. Thanks to John and Buck for their hard work and craftsmanship!

And thanks for everyone for keeping their mouths mum (and restrained from blabbing on Facebook in their status updates)! As always, you're welcome to see for yourself when you're in the neighborhood. Come see us!

Heating Up

Michael Kline

last night's moon

Things heated up yesterday and it was a sawdust kind of day, cutting and stacking wood for the upcoming firing. But it cooled off nicely in the evening. Looks like we may be firing the kiln around the full moon. I'll have to consult my charts.

making pots by the light of the moon

Climbing the Mountain

Michael Kline

maple-leaf pattern,
overglaze enamels, and underglaze iron.

Going through my boxes of stuff, I finally found the books I thought I had lost or misplaced. A while back I promised to share a story that I recalled from my bio of Ogata Kenzan. Well, it turns out I had it all wrong. It is a quote from Rosanjin, whose real name was Fusajiro Kitaoji. It comes from the book"Uncommon Clay: The Life and Pottery of Rosanjin" by Sidney B. Cordoza/Misaaki Hirano. I read this quote as I dedicated and lighted the first fire of my, then, brand new kiln in 2002. It summed up the experience I had with building the kiln and now is again appropriate at this stage of studio construction.

It happens to everyone who climbs Mt. Fuji. When you reach the last station or two, you push on excitedly, the members of you party encouraging one another despite their weariness, everyone aware that the peak is near. Then it happens. Looking up, you catch sight of a corner of the mountain and decide that this must be the peak at last. Pulling yourself together, you climb on in high spirits, only to find, to your consternation, another corner rising above the first. Surely this is it, you think, and climb hopefully on, but again the mountain does not stop. Only after several rounds of this sort of thing does one reach the top.

The ascent is difficult, but anyone with mettle enough to climb will surely conquer all difficulties and reach the peak.

For whatever reason, once a person reaches the steep places of life, all too often he or she turns back to where the going was easier. Of course, in life's climbing expedition there is no peak, no limit to how high you can go. There is always a higher level, always a more elevated plane.

underglaze iron

Before the Year Ends

Michael Kline

One fear I have is that I may not have anything relevant to say, much less write a blog about, but "fools rush in" as the songs says.

After a few days of R and R with family for the holidays, I have managed to distance myself from the woes of studio completion, or rather, lack thereof. I have been sequestered from worries and concerns and I must say it is very refreshing. I've realized that it's a very stressful thing to a) not have a studio that one can make things in, b) stretch your skills and do things that require a lot of experience to do right and do well. Meanwhile...

I have been enjoying two books that I got from Santa this week. Both recommended to Santa by my buddy, Tom Turner. One is ironically titled, "Talking with the Turners" by Charles R. Mack. [No, it's not about Tom's family.] It's a collection of "conversations with southern folk potters" and includes a CD with recordings made by Mr. Mack in 1981. I really like what I've read so far especially since there are obviously a lot of stories about the ways that pottery was made back in the old days. I am hoping to hear from Mr. Mack to get permission to quote excerpts from the book so that you might want to add this book to your pottery library as well. With permission I hope to put a few of the audio tracks here for your enjoyment. More later I hope.

The other book has been on my wish list since it was published in 2006, Alabama Folk Pottery, by Joey Brackner. This is a big coffee table kind of book that isn't always easy to hold while reading in bed, but that's OK because it's really a marvelous object to look at and I'm sure it will be on your bookshelf soon if not already if you're a lover of old pots, especially old southern pots. In the short time that I've been reading it, I've realized that wonderful pots were being made all across the south, not just NC and GA, but it took an insightful and well researched book to spread the word about the Alabama pottery tradition. Hopefully books about the Mississippi and Texas pottery traditions are in the works, too! Of course as the nation grew it needed pottery, and as this book clearly shows the potters were pioneers as well. Maybe after I have read the whole book, I will be able to write a review.

I would hope though, that you set aside a few dollars here and there to get these great books. Times are tight but you shouldn't neglect your library. My library has suffered greatly since budget cuts shortly after our first daughter, Evelyn, was born, but I won't hold that against her. ;)
It's only because I don't have a realistic budget in the first place. God knows I could at least buy one worthy book each year with money saved from certain revenues collected from certain ads from certain said blog. [But I'm not supposed to mention that.]

I am so thankful to my family who gave these books to me for Christmas! They are my most wonderful supporters!

As far as the new shop is concerned, you can rest assured that I will continue to plug away at the punch list and keep you informed of anything exciting that happens, like electricity!!! I'm getting really close to getting the wheels in there and building a few counter tops and such.
As always, thanks so much for reading.

Back to the Punch

Michael Kline

A panoramic shot of the pottery compound


This week I am back to punching out some minor details in the new shop.

The walls have yet to be finished and I've been agonizing myself over wall treatments. I wanted to use pine boards for the walls but just can't afford it. I'm buttoning up the shop , replacing some broken panes in the old doors that Matt Anders gave me. It's starting to get pretty cool at night. Tonight/tomorrow morning is supposed to be in the twenties, so this door I installed yesterday will come in handy. I've been stapling up plastic to keep the cold wind out and that was getting real old. Here's a picture of the new door which you can add to your Sawdust and Dirt scrap book!

My goal is to have the shop trimmed out and ready for the Toe River Arts Council (TRAC) December Studio Tour first weekend of December. Stacey will be showing off and selling her newest jewelry creations and I'll be selling big jars that you can put your 'kraut in (as well as this years seconds: cheap). But that means I need to bust it out for the next little bit so I can hit the ground running in the new year, er, I mean era!

End of a Session

Michael Kline

I wish. There's painting and glazing, stoking and burning, unloading and packing. Sometimes I wonder how it all gets done. One pot at a time. Here's a couple of pics for those of you keeping score at home.

A few jars waiting to get scratched and painted.

The studio is insulated! Just in time as it's
starting to get nippy.


Michael Kline

After circling around all day yesterday, I melted down and realized what I needed to do was to just set up my wheels as I was accustomed and get to work on making pots. I was driving myself crazy with a never ending list making and not getting anything done. So after the panic set in I snapped and made a simple decision,
"Just set up the wheels and tables as they were for the last ten years." (a big voice inside cramped insane head says)
There was a big DUh written in the sky in little puffy white clouds. After the clouds shape shifted into the perfect floor plan, I got to work. First I raked the ground from the large gravel Allen Wright had laid in there in January and re paved my new "summer studio" in red dirt! I set up the old Shimpo, the wedging table, and the treadle wheel along the wall. Next I bought some lighting at our friendly Ledger Ace Hardware store. After dark I went up and set the lighting and its attendant power strips and extension cords into a nice unencumbered arrangement not unlike knitting with electricity. As the BBC came on at 11p.m. I was about whooped and called it a night. Today I will get some clay out and do a sound check of sorts and hopefully report back with some pictures of the days produce. Have a good Tuesday!

Moving and Shaking

Michael Kline

I've been packing some things, unpacking some things, but it just doesn't feel like home, yet. I plan on setting up the wheels to start doing some summertime throwing, plein aire style. After the wiring and lights are in, the insulation is in, and the walls get covered, I will set up in the shop. I have to burn the kiln next month for the upcoming shows at the Mint and the Rye Arts Center. I better get crackin'.

The showroom is set up with all the pots that didn't get shipped or sold to last session's Penland classes. Snow Creek Road has a new layer of blacktop. So there's no time like the present for a visit to the new pot shop. Come on over!

The Clay Club is meeting tonight up at John Ferlazzo's, should be fun. We have a little group blog started here.

Have a good Wednesday.


Michael Kline

Matthew Anders(l) and Keenan Hoilman(r) screw the tin down as I take this picture. I spent the day with my feet on the ground handing tin up to the guys. I'm no good on high places, even with a good knee. So for those keeping score, check off the roof! I turned feet on the big bowls last night, although I had to slam a Pepsi for fuel.

Going Up

Michael Kline

We laid up the first truss yesterday evening and will put up the rest today. I couldn't sleep last night thinking about all the money I'm spending on this studio. And the funny thing is it's not a lot as new construction goes. I'm just not that comfortable writing these big checks, especially when I'm paying the builders more than I make. I'm in the wrong business. As I finally slumbered off I thought to myself how nice it's going to be to make pots here at home.
z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z


Michael Kline

We had a little rain last night and this morning, so Matt and Sarah may not be here till this afternoon if then. Here is where we stand with the studio. Matt brought some nice old doors and we'll figure out where to put them.

I'm off to the old shop to pug clay and maybe get a few pots spun. It's all I can do after pugging fresh clay to take some over to the wheel and check it out. Have a good Friday.

The Power(Pole) and The Glory(Hole)

Michael Kline

Sorry for the bad pun(s), but I can't help myself...The electric company installed the power pole today and the road crew replaced the culvert from our pond to the other side of the town road. So there was a little "Busytown" feel to our little corner of the world.

I visited Greg Fidler to measure the windows again and took a few pictures of him at work in the glass shop.

Greg using a wet wad of newspaper to shape against the paddle.

The "Glory Hole"

Also Greg has this in his shop, can you guess what it may be?

More on clay mixing later.



Michael Kline

Matt and Sarah got to work on the framing today and here are a couple of pictures. My girls and I have had the afternoon together and enjoyed a tractor ride to the back nine. Below is the studio/kiln viewed from afar with the current color of Spring.

Tomorrow may be my clay mixing day. I have a little over 800 lbs of red dirt ready to go. That will make about 1600 lbs of clay for this session and the June firing. That should be plenty. I want to make some tiles for the show at the Clay art Center in Port Chester, NY. And I can't wait to get back to the wheel. Leave a comment if there is something you would like to discuss. Until next time...Thanks so much for reading.

Update on the New Workshop

Michael Kline

Here is a picture I meant to post after the "pour" on Tuesday morning. It took two trucks of concrete to pour the footings, 7 yards of concrete. If the weather cooperates we will set block this week sometime. But as it looks pretty sketchy, with typical February weather in in NC, we'll keep our fingers crossed. Yesterday I heard the frogs and peepers in the pond begin to croak because of the 50+*F weather.