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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: Paoli mixer

Mixing the Dirt

Michael Kline

I've been playing with the "Big One" the last couple of days. It's a circa mid 1960's Paoli clay mixer. I'm still trying to figure out how it's best use is.

click on images to enlarge so you can see my
fancy hose shut off feature

I started by scrubbing the interior and rinsing. There was a fair amount of rusty bits in there. Then I dumped the red dirt of varying wetness/dryness.

crushing the dirt into smaller pieces

On top of the dirt I put in the rest of the dry materials.

The mixer goes "forward" and "backward" and I used this feature to keep the mix in the main mixing section. Yesterday I mixed a small batch of red dirt clay and today mixed up a big batch of the sandy version.

the sand station in the distance.
the sun and wind helped dry out
the sand which helped in sieving it.

We have a huge pile of sand left over from Stacey's paving project and it adds a bit more texture to the clay. I tested it out last firing as well as doing a calcium test with some muriatic acid. However, it contains some material that is too large. To get the little stones out I dried the sand and shook it through my sieve. I know, it does seem like a lot of trouble...but nothing but the best! (keepin' it local)

Here's the recipe. If you have a local red clay, fire in a wood kiln to about cone 9 1/2 and use salt, then you may get close.
45% red dirt (15 mesh)
35% fireclay (35 mesh)
4% ball clay
3% XX Sagger
13% g200 feldspar

i sent the clay through the machine
twice to get the consistency right!

stacked pugs


I'll use this clay for my white slip and wax resist work as well as my alkaline glaze.

Now it's off to the shop for some after supper pottery!

That's it for now.

Mixing It Up

Michael Kline

A few things to report, today. Aside from a couple of new grates needed, and stoke door maintenance, the kiln is ready! The pots are being bisque fired on a daily rotation. Clay waiting to be made into the pots needed for the show at Leslie's. Also, Micah and I cranked up the old mixer. If you remember from previous posts, I purchased an old mixer from Tyrone Larson over in Asheville, back a few months ago and lugged it back up the mountain from Asheville. (the Larsen's used to live just over a few miles from me until about 10 years ago.) They have, no doubt, mixed tons of clay in this mixer and moved it to Asheville with them. They sold it to me, and I hauled it back "home". It seems to be working just fine. The photo above shows a "wave" of fire clay/sand mix I'm using to clean out the mixer. First we hosed out all of the iron rust flakes and leaves, etc. that were in the mixer. We then dumped in about 100 lbs. of sand and 200lbs of fire clay, added water and watched the mix with our hands in our pockets! I still want to devise some safety switch and screen covering over the hopper. The auger moves pretty slowly but I don't want to take any chances. There is a reverse and forward switch that helps mix the batch. When it was ready I reversed the switch and the clay came out the 3 inch pug at the other end of the mixer. (sorry, no picture) I think I could mix at least 400 lbs at a time, maybe more. There's nothing like a big ole batch of fresh clay to get a potter spinning!

I'm the helper at Evelyn and Lil's school in the morning so I better hit the sack. More on the May Ferrin show to come. Also, painting and glazing!

Heavy Lifting/Yankee Ingenuity/Simple Machines

Michael Kline

After a week of clouds and endless rain, I decided to spend the afternoon outside cutting wood for the next firing and figuring out a way to move that 8' beast of a mixer out into it final working position. As you can see it wasn't too hard to get the wheels onto the plywood runner with my old Suburu jack. (I knew it would be handy someday!) But getting it across the threshold required the help of my neighbor Tom Dancer who was salvaging wood from the barn across the street.

Here's Tom wiggling the mixer into place while I threw my 4" x 4" x 8' lever down to snap this picture on my new Centro! I'm really excited to get some red dirt into this fine machine! We'll get it wired up tomorrow! More on the Paoli mixer tomorrow!

Good night all.


Michael Kline

Spent most of the day running errands. I managed to pack the pots I'm sending to the Mudfire Potters of The Roan Show opening in April. There will be a 2 gallon jar among some plates, platters, some big cups, and yunomis.

Speaking of yunomis, the AKAR yunomi show opens in the morning. I hope you will see the show and get to buy some of the great pots the show promises to have. Some of the cups profits will go to the Studio Potter magazine. They are recommending that you register so that your purchases can be expedited without delay. The show sold out pretty quickly last year as I remember, so log on early. I think the show goes live at about 10a.m. EST. I have a few more yunomi that I didn't ship that I hope to post on etsy very soon. I'll let you know when I do that.

My friend Buck was over this evening to wire up the pug mill, mixer, and kiln. Hopefully, soon we'll be hearing the roar of the Paoli mixing up some fresh red dirt. I've been limping along with reclaim and previously frozen clay that has taken a lot of time to reprocess. Maybe now I'll have no excuses to crank those pots out. Let's hope...

Small Talk

Michael Kline

Just when I thought it was safe to just get my circa 1970 Shimpo Scream™ spinning today, I find myself putting a material list ready for my man Buck who is coming over to wire, kiln, mixer, and pug mill. Just when I finished reclaiming/mixing about 500 lbs of clay! Damn™. But I'll really be glad to have the pug mill running again. The circa 1967(?) Paoli mixer pugger will get wired just in time to mix a new batch of clay, too. A potter's got to have clay! The drying rack is filling up with pots ready for a bisque so I've got to move the kiln off the front porch. All of these things will help with efficiency in the work shop. Besides more time™ in the day, I really need some serious streamlining™.

The rain today is a reminder of equipment that sits out in the rain needing tarps, muddy places that need gravel, a kiln shed that's full of leaves and other items of winter's blowing winds. All of this and blogging, too! A potter's life is never idle, no time to sit under the shade tree.