Get in touch!

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: Other People and/or Places

Stacey Lane: Studio Jewelry

Michael Kline

I wanted to announce the official opening of Stacey Lane's web site, Not only is Stacey the mother of my lovely children and my ever patient and supportive wife, she is also a most talented artist. Stacey's new web site features production jewelry as well as one-of-a-kind cast gold and silver brooches, rings, and necklaces. Stacey also has some interesting new pieces here. I hope you will take time to check it out and maybe even find something you simply can't live without. You can purchase work with Visa, MasterCard, or PayPal through a secure PayPal link. (Hopefully some of the profits will be diverted to help me finish my new shop! Thanks, honey!)

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]

In the Round and Deco-Rotation.

Michael Kline

Ron has posted a couple of nice videos, you may have already seen them, and I just talked with our local photographer about this very topic yesterday. It must be in the air. Check out Ron's videos here and Tom Mills "in-the-round" photography here.

As for the term deco-rotation??? It's just one of those words that have been formed from two other words and abbreviated. Like Ginormous! Like blog-cation! [Look here for a ready-search of blogcation]
It's just how we talk 'round here.

Thoughts Before The Burn

Michael Kline

Before I hit the hay for my 'disco' nap I wanted to acknowledge a few things/people .

How amazing it is that all the pots got in, like a funny 3D jigsaw puzzle.

How amazing my wife Stacey is for picking up my parental slack and being a potters widow these last couple of weeks. (we're celebrating ATF with a trip to Nashville to see The Swell Season, Sept 24, woohoo)

How lucky I was to meet Mica Cain, who is the new resident potter at the Energy xChange, just down the road. He is 28 and this is the 28th firing of the kiln and it's sixth anniversary! He did an awesome job getting all the pots glazed and loaded.

How worried I was about the wood getting wet in our week of rain and how amazingly sunny and breezy it has been the last three days.

How exciting it is to think about all of the new pots that will be around in the next week.

How I hope that a couple of hours sleep will be enough.

Coffee Break vol. #10

Michael Kline

I'm reminded of a New Yorker cartoon that shows two men in suits by a water cooler. The 'boss' is saying to the other guy "[guy #1], eventually you have to quit whatever break you're on and get the work done". SO I sit here with my blog and a cup of coffee...
I've lost track with all these coffee breaks, but I don't recall posting this cup. Here is a wonderful yunomi made by So. Georgia potter Mike Henshaw. I had mentioned Mike in an earlier post about woodcut prints. Mike made this pot at Penland in Shawn Ireland's studio at the Barns while Shawn and I were residents there. Shawn and Mike are good friends and Mike would come up to escape the heat of south GA and make pots with Shawn in the cool of the mountains. It has a beautiful celadon ash glaze and was fired in Shawn's wood kiln that he built(and still stands) behind the Barns studios. It's survived ten years of my kicking it around during my morning coffee. It has the signs of a well loved pot in its little chips and coffee stained glaze.

Early Influence

Michael Kline

Way back in the early nineties I came across a catalog of a show that was given to my friend Mark Shapiro. The catalog was in German and I had long forgotten any German I had learned as a three year old living in Germany. Yet the pictures were very inspiring and, little did I know, the images of Roman Scheidel painting in this little book had the single biggest influence on my approach to surface in my pottery ever since.

catalog cover

tiles painted with wax resist

By some miracle I found this catalog recently while packing my old studio. I thought I had lost it. So I took a few pictures to give you an idea of what I am talking about. I have wanted to post them at an appropriate time and since I am in the midst of some decoration work, now is the time. Also I found his web site and you can see better images here of Mr. Scheidel's work, and if you read German you're in luck.
After seeing this catalog I commenced to learn all about painting with wax resist and using plant imagery. I wasn't quite ready to do figurative work as Scheidel had in the work, but I loved the beautiful brushwork of leaf imagery.

Roman Scheidel is an Austrian artist who is mostly a painter, but is also interested in dance and ceramics. In this catalog it is clear that he is working with a potter, Felix Vogler, to make the ceramics.

Electric Kiln Nomad

Michael Kline

With about a week before the firing date most reasonable potters would be glazing pots and preparing the kiln. Since I'm not exactly reasonable or able, I will have to squeeze a few pots out of the wheel in the next couple of days to fill out the making list. Usually I make small cups and bowls on the last wet day, or making day, and glaze them bone dry.

In other news, yesterday, John Hartom of Empty Bowls renown, let me fire his electric kiln at his place which is just a couple of miles down the road. It's a great place with a beautiful long view over towards Green Mountain, NC. John and his partner, Lisa Blackburn, moved to the area about eight years ago from Michigan where John taught school. John retired and has set up his Empty Bowls headquarters in Yancey County just over the Toe River from here. They've got a great collection of Burlon Craig pottery that I want to photograph someday, and I'll share it with you here.

But for now, I have a couple of bisque kilns to load and a few more pots to make so I better get to it.
Have a good Sunday.

Getting Edgy

Michael Kline

It's a week and a half till the firing and I'm reporting the "sawdust" part of my work. I'm still cutting and stacking wood from my massive deliveries late last summer to make room for some fresh wood. The poplar seems to do the trick and I have a bit of oak and maple, too. It's too hot to cut wood all day, so I did some cutting this morning and then a little more this evening. I failed to get a picture but I will be repeating for the next few days.

I struggled to make the pots on my list for today, but they're made. Sometimes that's the way it happens. Some days you flow and some days you stumble. Most of my mind was wrapped around the absurdity of my studio situation and the audacity that I should attempt to make good work. There is probably a reason potters don't work out of doors, several in my recent experience. The big surprise of today was a decision to bisque my bigger pots back at the old shop! How crazy is that? I planned on firing Courtney's brand spanking new kiln, but her wiring wasn't sufficient to carry the load and she's blowing fuses. Luckily I have an old service panel that we can install in the next few days if she can find an electrician. In the meantime I did my calculations and realized that I needed to jump on it and start bisqing, anyway. At ye olde Mushroom Factory I have two kilns and will have to commute to the pots. So into totes the pots go, carefully wrapped. It's so absurd it's got me laughing and crying, (and whining). But that's the way it goes.

In other news, I had a nice visit with Pamela Theis of "Salt/Soda Firing" and some of her classmates from Penland. We looked over the pots and they took some pictures of the train wreck that is my compound. Hopefully Pamela will get to come over again before she leaves for home.

The Disqus campaign has been fairly successful, I think. We had over twenty people register and leave brief comments and got the ball rolling. Cynthia from Colorado Art Studio, was extremely helpful and shared her research. If you don't want to register but still want to keep up with a thread, you will be able to click on the RSS feed for that particular thread. Just click on the comment link then click the options button and look for subscribe. If you're not sure what that means, get in touch with me and I can help. It really works best if you register, but I certainly understand if you would rather not. In the meanwhile I think it will be fun and more interactive. Thanks everyone. And if you missed the post the other day, scroll down until you see an duck and read, and register, for a chance to win a piece of my pottery!

Tomorrow, more sawdust in my forecast and more clay.


Michael Kline

So many Michael's in the world of pottery. Yesterday I mentioned Michael Simon, my teacher and true master potter of the universe. Today, somehow I came across another friend, Michael Cohen. I saw his name pop up in one of these Google ads which I'm not supposed to mention. I met Michael C. in Massachussets when I lived there, what seems like, yesterday. Michael had started a pottery guild in Amherst way back when and I joined up during my stay there. It was a great group of people, including Angela Fina, teaching this session at Penland, more about Angie later. Here is a great picture of Michael that was originally taken 196?, and updated with one of his now famous tiles. I include here a link to an interview of Michael by Gerry Williams in 2001 for the Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America. (Is that some title or what?) It's such a long tile for a program that it's got to be part of the Smithsonian Institute, right? Right. And here is another of the Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America's oral history interviews of Michael Simon from 2005 conducted by Mark Shapiro. Two interviews for Tuesday. It may take you a while to get through these, but they are well worth the read. You can also search/browse the Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America interviews here. This Michael is out of breath and out of time.

Pottery Center Appeal

Michael Kline

The NC Pottery Center is a wonderful institution promoting the history of pottery making in the state and its livelihood for future generations. Funding has recently been cut from the state budget. I wanted to share with you this letter from the Pottery Center as well as my own hope that you can join as a member to help keep the center open through these troubled times.

Dear Friends,

We are writing to you because we have an urgent need for funds to keep the doors open at the North Carolina Pottery Center. Without immediate financial assistance, the Center will have to close in just a few months.

Over its ten-year life, the Center has enriched the lives of tens of thousands of North Carolinians, as well as people from every state and many countries around the world. It has continually provided us with wide ranging, well designed programming including:

a permanent exhibit on the history of North Carolina pottery,

more than fifty changing exhibitions featuring individuals, regions, ethnic groups, schools, pottery associations,

classes in pottery making and workshops by master potters,

firings by potters using our two wood kilns,

educational events for children, scouts, and teachers; lectures by potters and scholars,

an extensive oral history program, and

most recently, 250 people attended the opening of our current exhibition, “Contemporary Pottery from North Carolina’s Indian Communities.” Some of the featured potters had never seen their work in a museum before.

In a state that values pottery as we do, it makes no sense to close an institution that embodies what is certainly our most important and famous indigenous art form.

As you know, in December of 2007, the Board of the Pottery Center entered into an agreement with the Department of Cultural Resources to transfer the Center’s assets to the State and operate the Center through the North Carolina Arts Council. Funding for this move was inserted into the expansion budget at $300,000 but was cut from the Governor’s budget. As no legislator stepped forward to introduce a bill to support the Center, the current budget will not provide any funding.

The Department of Cultural Resources does want to take over the Center and will ask for funding in next year’s budget. In the meantime, we have to keep the Center open, admittedly on a somewhat reduced schedule. We can do this if we can raise $100,000. The Arts Council has indicated that it will offer a substantial amount of support as well. This is to some degree a gamble that the State will come through, but we think it is a gamble that is well worth taking.

Seven donors have already pledged a total of $10,000, so we are off to a good start toward our goal. All contributions are most welcome and are tax deductible. You can easily make your donation online by following the link at the bottom of the Center’s home page Checks should be made to the North Carolina Pottery Center and mailed to NCPC, P.O. Box 531, Seagrove, NC 27341. Donations of stock can be made to the Center through your local broker.

This letter is just one part of a vigorous, multi-faceted, fundraising campaign. A very generous supporter of the Center has just given 250 pieces of pottery to be put up for auction, and a number of potters are organizing raffles of their work. We will announce other initiatives in the coming months.

Some years ago, Pennsylvania potter Jack Troy wrote, “If North America has a ‘pottery state,’ it must be North Carolina. . . . There is probably no other state with such a highly developed pottery-consciousness.” Let’s keep that special pottery-consciousness alive. Please join us in saving the Center.


Tim Blackburn
Cynthia Bringle
Mark Hewitt
Terry Zug
Vernon and Pamela Owens
Dan Finch

If you would like to donate any amount click here.

If you would like to join, click here.

I thank you.

Day of Rest

Michael Kline

This afternoon I sat with some friends in the yard watching our kids splash around in the pool and realized, "Hey, I'm sitting here without a care in the world, not even pottery!"

We started out the day with a fishing trip up at John Ferlazzo's pond and wound our way back and found ourselves in Bandana again, so we stopped by the pottery sale. While we were there the rain came pouring down. We had so little will power and couldn't help ourselves from these Shawn Ireland birds.

I don't think I've ever regretted buying pots, or birds, that I really responded to, but really couldn't afford. I heard once that you forget your extravagances, but regret your economies, or something like that...A long time ago Karen Karnes egged me on to buy a beautiful Jan McKeachie-Johnston basket at the Demarest Pottery Show. It was way beyond what I could afford. But I've never regretted it, and have since forgot what I paid for it. These birds weren't expensive at all, but with dwindling cash left for my new shop they seemed extravagant. I don't regret it a bit. The shop will get built.

Who's Who?

Michael Kline

I try to keep the focus here at the blog on pottery, but please allow me this one indulgence. I just thought I would scatter some of the pictures I took at the Penland School Fourth of July Parade and fireworks show all over this blog. Besides, most of these people in these pictures are great potters! Except for some glassblowers that kept throwing themselves at my camera. [If I have some time I may provide answers to who's who.] All of this happened on the 2nd, I apologize for any confusion this may cause all of you early a.m. readers and those who are reading from across the deep blue sea. Wish you could have been there. It's always a lot of fun.

A Must Read

Michael Kline

CM has published a great series of essays this month. The suite is titled "The Potter's Life". For your convenience you can read them here. It's the best writing I've read in this ceramic Art PR Machine in a long time. Here is an excerpt from my old (and I do mean old) buddy Mark Shapiro's essay.
So much physical work takes a toll. Throwing is repetitive and asymmetric on your joints-so many potters have lower back issues, especially on the side of their dominant hand. I have been throwing standing-and seated on a treadle wheel for trimming and throwing off the hump-for the last twenty years, which has helped my back. I also try to use the softest clay possible for the pot I'm making. The softer the clay, the less resistance it has to shaping and the less stress there is on the body. For small bowls and the like, the clay I use is so soft it feels like you only have to look at it to move it. Of course, for taller and thinner forms I use the harder stuff, but I've taken to using a powerful propane torch-a weed burner, in fact-that I think of as fixative, enabling me to use softer clay, but adding stiffness where I need it. This has also opened up new possibilities of form and scale.

Catherine White: Rough Ideas

Michael Kline

I am so excited to share with you a new blog about pottery and creativity written by Virginia potter Catherine White. I have been a big fan of Catherine's pottery after being introduced to it at and after meeting Catherine and her partner Warren Frederick here at Penland. Catherine writes about her pottery and the processes of creativity involving in this blog titled "Rough Ideas". I hope you will go there and see for yourself. Enjoy.

After Dinner Pottery

Michael Kline

After dinner and some time catching up on my reading I returned to the old Micaville studio for some late night pottery. I finished a big jar and then tended to some big bowls by turning over and covering up with plastic as I will be putting up roofing tomorrow. I sat and looked around for a while, listening to some news and then threw a few lids for the jar. At the end of the "hump" of clay I was working off of, I had a tiny amount left on the wheel head. I could have cut it off, but sometimes this little bit of clay can become a nice little unexpected pot. So I threw what I call a 'monkey' dish, a little side dish, I guess you could say. Then I thought of Jenny Mendes and her beautiful little hand pinched bowls. So I decided, since we are having a show together at AKAR this summer, that I would try to make some little bowls inspired by Jenny's. Well here is a picture of some of the ones I quickly threw.

I didn't quite capture the intimate feeling of Jenny's pots(yet). Being pinched, they have a nice softness and wobbliness. She then paints a motif in the center that is always alluring. That will be another challenge, since I don't really paint figuratively. It will be fun to try. Here is one of Jenny's I found at her website, It's just 3" wide and about 2" tall!

In other news tonight...I am hopefully going to move in July to the new shop and I've been going through all the accumulated stuff of seven years in my studio. Before I took these mementos down from my throwing spot, I thought I would record it. There are pictures of my wife and kids, my niece and nephews, cards, reminders, etc. The little pot on the left was the first pot I threw after my accident in '05. For the record, I submit...