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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: Penland

Episode 6 - Courtney Martin

Michael Kline

In this episode I talk with my friend, neighbor, and fellow Snow Creek Rd potter, Courtney Martin. We talk about cooking and the pots we like to use serving meals to friends and family, as well as my recent trip to DC, Courtney’s beginnings as a potter, and some of Courtney’s thoughts on pattern. We also answer your questions! We hope you enjoy the conversation!

Names We Drop

Bowl by Matt Kelleher

Show Links


 Follow Courtney 

Follow Michael 
Exhibition and other Show Links

POW!!! kickstarter project
"Days of Endless Time", at the Hirshhorn Museum 
Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show 
Pottery on the Hill 
Spruce Pine Potters Market 
Signature Show 
TRAC Studio Tour

"Thank" Courtney  on Twitter!

Thanks for listening!!

Check out this episode!

Episode 3: Courtney Martin

Michael Kline

In Episode 3 I begin a series of conversations with my good friend and neighbor Courtney Martin.

Episode Highlights
  • the economics of reclaiming clay scraps
  • trying to keep up with popular culture while living in rural NC
  • graffiti and 80's hip hop
  • hoarding bisqueware
  • living near in the Penland School community
  • puttering vs. getting straight to work
Episode Rsources
Names We Drop
 Follow Courtney 
Follow Michael 
Exhibition Links
"Two", Lark and Key, Charlotte, NC
"Greetings From North Carolina" Santa Fe Clay Santa Fe, NM
"Designed and Crafted 14"Signature Contemporary Crafts Atlanta, GA

"Thank" Courtney for the conversation on Twitter

Thanks for listening!!

Got Grip?

Michael Kline

All hail the few, the proud, the blog reader!

In an effort to keep the world informed of my little victories, here is Monday's edition of the pottery bloggery.

1, 2, 2.5, and 3

There may be a couple of you out there would be happy to know that I managed to complete #3  on Scott's adgenda Friday. It only took me 3 days! [so much for 12 x 12] But in my defense, there was some hearty discussion that is just as valuable to this potter. 

stamped and handled

The shapes became a little better, more refined, but the handles seemed awkward. Making handles is a floppy affair that is somewhat of a riddle. A potter can't just pick up the pot with its freshly drawn handle, the potter has to wait till the handle has firmed up. Waiting. There's a lot of waiting in pottery making. 
 designed for one finger. as much clay in the handle as the cup
Here are some other types of handles. Some are more like latches than handles. But all meant to be controlled by hand, not foot. Maybe claw if that's what you got.

handle that lets me into the chicken zone. sometimes tricky to open with 2 hands full of eggs

a favorite handle. screen door to our house. i use this one a lot. hand made!

smooth lines, nice attachment

two of my fingers fit this model

Until next time, keep a firm grip.

Pottery Bloggery Meetup

Michael Kline

Hi everyone.

Yesterday I had a nice time visiting with Ron and Scott up at Penland.

about this high
Scott is on "sabbatical" here, making pots in the Penland Clay studio, Ron was up for the day to visit. Penland is that kind of place, a crossroads. Sometimes I am lucky to find myself there making friends, visiting friends, or peeking in to see what's going on in the studios.

scott's NC pots, from the small salt kiln at Penland

We talked about pottery, blogging, kilns,  and making a living.

What else is there?

Oh, glad you asked.
Well,  God and Art, of course!

Here's another potter on sabbatical, Chris Staley with his latest video.

ALSO: After talking with the blogger boys yesterday, I have decided to reinstate the comments on this here blog. If you have anything to say, let us have it! Don't be shy, just say Hi!

have a great Mardi!

Spied the Moon Monday

Michael Kline

Most days I wake up with a heart full of promise and a road of good intention lies ahead. After my coffee, which always seems to be there waiting for me (thanks Stacey) I do the rounds, feeding the chickens, getting the eggs, boiling the eggs, and clocking into the internets to see what's coming downstream.

Today I woke up really tired and didn't have time to go through my usual routine.

The girls are in a morning camp up at Penland so I ferried them straightaway over the mountain to their camp, came home and went to the studio to check in with the twelve from yesterday.

I spent most of the morning, aside from a brief visit from a fine group of students from ArtCentered, trying to throw small pitchers and had some success. It has been a while since I made a good group,of pitchers and it took me a few tries to get them. I often wonder if I should toss out the first couple in a series and rationalize that even the mediocre pot can be a good pot for a glaze test. And none of them were that bad really. (delusional?)

I packed some pots, went to the P.O. and dropped off some stuff over at Bandana pottery, where I sat and talked to Michael over a cold beer. Even though we live just a few few short miles apart, we rarely have time to drop in to just sit and talk shop. What a treat it is when we can.

After about 60 paces of mowing in the field and some nice callus forming on chops, I came back to the shop where it had cooled down nicely to finish my 12 for today. Well, it must be noon somewhere!? Midnight is fine with me, especially in the summer.

Just as i sit down to write this travelogue for the day, a skunk wafted by the studio and I rushed to close the doors that would keep Jack inside.  He paced between the doors looking to get out and meet this smelly dude and became so excited that I thought he might jump through the window screens!

Jack's snoozing by my feet and the skunk has moved on and it's probably safe to walk down the hill to the house without a skunk altercation. I'll enjoy the new path I've made with tonight's mowing and I'll really enjoy that path to my slumber!

A Penland Afternoon

Michael Kline

VA potter Catherine White's hands on some clay

One of the great hopes and dreams I have as a member of the Penland community is to take a class at the school every summer. A summer break kind of thing. This dream doesn't lean in particular to any medium,  it's just to be there, to see how people make stuff and to get jazzed up about my own work. But that dream is being deferred for now.

But another one of the great things about being in the neighborhood of the Penland School is dropping in the clay studio to see what's going on, even if it's just for a peek or a glimpse. Of course, nothing much gets done in my studio when I visit Penland, so I try to stay clear when I have approaching deadlines, etc.  But since I am just now getting back into the clay this week,  I rationalized that it was a perfect day to nose around the studio and see what they were "building in there."

Sitting at the picnic tables out by the Coffee House, that is adjacent to the Pines Dining Hall, you can see the whole world go by. It may take a few sessions, maybe a couple of summers, but eventually everyone I know walks by. It's the center of the universe. The other day I ran into Warren Frederick and his wife, Catherine White. Catherine is leading the workshop in the upstairs clay studio. Her workshop would have been the class I would have taken this summer, no doubt.  So I was more than willing and very happy to let myself get swept away for that beautiful clear afternoon (and was glad I had flipped over and covered all the plates I threw the day before).

Walking in that studio that I have been walking into for over twenty years is always familiar and always new. The room is the same. The doorway, the floor, the windows, the view, are the same , but what is happening in the room is always unique. I was excited to get a look at everyone working, but the electricity in there was the real elixir!

Catherine showed me what she was making and with a little drool forming at the corner of my mouth I scanned the tables to see the clay and the slip on the forms that were already everywhere on that second day of class. It really is the reason I live here, so close to that school. The chance, even though it is rare given my obligations with family and work, to step in there and nose around.

I was completely excited by what I saw and then was lucky enough that Catherine took the time to show me how she makes her beautiful bisque molded dishes. I could go on about the luxury of such a situation, maybe I will tomorrow, but for now I will end this post with some pictures I snapped.  Here is Catherine cutting out a little round dish that she has previously coated in white slip and wiped through a pattern with her fingers.  Tomorrow I will post a short video of her very clever way of attaching a little foot ring to this little dish. Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion!

Monday Plate Day

Michael Kline

Today was a fine day, not exactly normal, but a good day. Not normal because intern Adam MacKay was here working which meant we were actually going to do some pottery work!

The day began with the unfortunate and untimely demise of our Holly Walker bowl which we have used for many years to hold all sorts of things. It was a favorite salad bowl and held many a Monday night's Broccoli Pasta. It's last passengers seem to be a stale bag of oatmeal bread, a family of smarties, and a lone pixie stix. All the occupants  survived the six foot fall from the top of the fridge, but the vessel was totalled. We will miss you Holly Walker bowl, but now you will suffer random and disparate foods no more.

The showroom remodel was put off for a day and Adam and I cleared away the debris that had occupied my shop to make room for some freshly thrown pots. We ridded the sub level of the work table that had a couple of years worth of random clay bodies never used and dried up.  It's time to break the monopoly of floor space this table takes by splitting this table in two and adding some casters, which will lend some flexibility to the work space.

As I do so often, I threw plates to start the session off. Adam and I discussed spiral wedging and after a few balls he was settling in to some unselfconscious wedging. It's nice to have someone weigh and wedge.

Suppertime brought some confidence back to handling some nice pots from our cupboard. Here is a corner of our domestic real estate, a very nice neighborhood, you could say, with a few Sam Taylor pots with an adjacent Rick Hensley. Pesto with locally produced goat cheese, carrots, and of course fresh seltzer from my SodaStream. The girls like it very much and we have some flavor testing to look forward to in the morning. Evelyn made a simple syrup with fresh mint that sits cooling on the stove.

Life is good.

Karen Karnes Events Reminder

Michael Kline

Curious Reader
Here is a gentle...

about the Asheville area programming in association with
A Chosen Path: The Ceramic Art of Karen Karnes
current exhibition at the Asheville Art Museum
January 28 - June 26
museum entrance fee: adults $8; seniors & students $7

beginning March 22 and currently at Penland Gallery
Many Paths: A Legacy of Karen Karnes
work by Karen Karnes and fourteen artists whose lives and work have been touched by her
free and open to the public
artists include:

Thursday, April 7, 6-9 PM at Asheville Art Museum and Diana Wortham Theatre
discussion, reception and book signing with
Karen Karnes and Mark Shapiro

Friday, April 8, 4:30 PM at Penland School, Ridgeway Hall
Film Screening of the documentary
Don't Know, We'll See: The Work of Karen Karnes
by Lucy Massie Phenix
free and open to public

Friday, April 8, 7-8:30 PM at Penland Gallery
Gallery Reception for Many Paths
with Karen Karnes & Mark Shapiro
free and open to public

Saturday & Sunday, June 4 & 5, 2 PM each day at Asheville Art Museum
Film Screening of the documentary
Don't Know, We'll See: The Work of Karen Karnes
by Lucy Massie Phenix
museum entrance fee: adults $8; seniors & students $7

On Wednesday, April 6, 7 PM at the Black Mountain College Museum Art Center
Film Screening of the documentary
Don't Know, We'll See: The Work of Karen Karnes
by Lucy Massie Phenix
$7.00 / $5.00 for BMCM+AC members + students w/ID

photos from Kathryn at Penland Gallery of ceramic work included in the exhibit Many Paths:
Maren Kloppmann, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Rob Sieminski, Phillips, Maine

Ellen Denker is a consulting curator and independent scholar of material culture, specializing in American ceramic history. She has many publications, some of which have won awards from obscure organizations. For “Sawdust & Dirt,” Ellen contributes historical insights into contemporary issues in studio ceramics and review books and exhibitions that feature ceramics. Ellen can also be reached at

Arrowmont and Beyond!

Michael Kline

participants in the ACC Convening at Penland last month

I've just spent the morning doing paper work for my workshop at Arrowmont next September! OOO fun, fun! But seriously, it's pretty exciting to plan a workshop! The paperwork is a reality to assure that everything is in place for this one week adventure into wood firing and pottery making!

Just for you I will leak the course description to be published next month in the Arrowmont catalog:

Wood Fired Pots: Expect the Unexpected

The wood kiln is a great vehicle for expressing our best intentions and celebrating the process and the natural effects of fire on clay. We'll experiment with brushes and discuss imagery to create simple or complex patterns in slips and glazes. BYOB (bring your own cone 10 bisque ware) to be fired in the wood kiln. While we wait for the kiln to cool, we'll make pots of all sizes and join in a series of fun exercises that are guaranteed to brush up your decorating & painting skills!

Here is the longer description:

This will be an action packed week that will begin with decorating/glazing your pots to be fired in the manibigama wood kiln. Bring cone ten stoneware pots that have been bisque fired. We will load the kiln and fire the kiln paying close attention to the effects of different kinds of wood and frequency of stoking. We will use our sense of seeing, hearing and smell to understand what’s happening inside the kiln! While the kiln cools, we will make pots and do lots of fun brushwork exercises. I will demonstrate how to make pots of all sizes, especially larger pots. We will explore brushes, pattern making on the pottery surface, slip/glaze strategies, and other decorating techniques including my pigmented wax resist technique. In addition, I will discuss my blog and how it informs my studio practice. We will discuss various approaches to this online media and how it is shaping our pottery field. At the end of the week, we will unload the wood kiln and assess the results and have an informal critiques of the pots.

As I read these I am reminded of the tone of voice pro athletes fall into when being interviewed, or the tone that a museum docent falls into when giving a tour of a exhibition. You know that tone?

Anyway, I also wrote a brief statement for the American Craft Council's for the symposium, "Convenings", I attended at Penland a few weeks ago. Yea, I was supposed to submit this before the symposium, but just managed to get it together this morning. It's pretty brief because I had to send it in "Now", as the email I received stated! Well, the question was, after all, Why craft NOW?
Why craft now?

As a maker my question is usually why craft then? As a potter I tend to look at the history of my craft as a well to dip my hands into and a fire to keep stoking.
In typical Kline fashion I avoid actually answering the question by restating the question and then giving a rather mysterious and vague poetic kind of answer. Hmmm. Suspicious art speak?

I'd better get back to work. Please take aim at these words. Maybe it's not too late to edit for future consumption.

Oh, and don't be like me and procrastinate! Sign up for the Arrowmont workshop ASAP! The catalog comes out next month but you can preview the 2011 Workshop listing and reserve your spot by calling 865-436-5860!!!

Penland Ramble

Michael Kline

it all started with lunch with lillian and stacey
under the veranda by the pines

which was after a morning at kid's craft camp

kathy steinsberger in the
letterpress shop

exhaust fans in the
printmaking shop

a view through the letterpress shop

john davis who made the movable
book above and below
, based on some painted barns near cameron, nc

also in Emily Martin's books class
were many delightful "tunnel"
books like the one above

i had nothing to do with the above design.
it predates my influence at penland!

pattern everywhere!!

i thought it would be cool to
photograph the fields at Penland from the air.

then I saw this!

damn, scooped again!
see the fall offerings at penland

lillian took many of these pictures. she
really has a knack for it. i took this one of her
at the end of a wonderful afternnoon at the
Penland School.

thanks for letting me indulge in this photo essay.

Unplugged and Revving It Up

Michael Kline

the seam of a 12 lb jar

I took a day off from the interconnected and interwebbed yesterday. It's amazing what you can get done when you're not checking email, tweeting, and blogging!

It was a quiet day of rain and pottery making. Stacey and the girls were in Knoxville and Jack was curled up on the floor snoozing. Here are a few pictures from yesterday.

12 lb jar
pots on top of pots on the table

The pots in the above picture are going to the Hambidge Center in Rabun Gap, Georgia, for their Spring Show. I was invited by Joy Tanner, who curated the show! I wanted to get a nice little grouping together from the last firing, but it seemed a little bit spread out stylistically.

Lindsay Rogers is on route to GA this weekend and was so kind to deliver these as well as all of the other WNC potters doing the show!! Thanks Lindsay!!

This show and my show at the Signature shop are both opening on the weekend of the 23rd & 24th. I wish I had time to go, but I'll be doing all I can to get the pots ready for firing#35. Well, with the exception of the workshop with master blacksmith Peter Ross up at Penland that I'm signed up for. Oh, and with the exception of the annual benefit auction for the Pottery Center over in Seagrove that I'll be helping out with...

Yowsah, it's looking like a action packed month! I'd better get busy!Hope you're ready for some fun!

What Day is it Anyway?

Michael Kline

It's been crazy with the school closings around here this winter and it's wreaking havoc on the ole schedule. Stacey tells me that we've had been over 60" here in Mitchell County so far this season and the kids have had only 5 full days of school since the Christmas break! Yikes. Sounds like the old days when kids walked 5 miles to school. Maybe they'll have to re-instate that policy so these kids can have a summer break!

Why am I not making pots? you might ask...Well I needed a snack and I wanted to check in with the blogs . Here is a picture of some batter bowls that I explored last night. It's been several years since I made any batter bowls. (Possibly since I was a resident at Penland 9-10 years ago.) Where does the time go? Too long without batter bowls. It's not that we haven't been regular pancake and maple syrup eaters during that time. But I've been exploring the crockery / large jar forms and haven't made a lot of tableware kitchen pots. Maybe I'm getting back to being a kitchen table potter, instead of a pedestal potter. I've always been best at the smaller pots. After my accident in '05 I couldn't make a lot of tableware and worked mostly on tooled pots. Now that my fingertips are nimble, again, I'm enjoying the finer points of tableware.

Thanks for the comments several of you sent in about the audio experiment. I admit the recording wasn't appropriate without pictures and it was perhaps hard to follow without pictures, so I've added a few. I mostly wanted to see how the software worked and where and how the "feed" bounced around. Several years ago, my friend Matt Pogatchnik lent me his MD recorder that I hoped to use to record interviews. The device works great but the interface with the computer was awkward and time consuming. I now have an iPod touch which has a great recording program built in and I will be using that to do the interviews.

Do you have a favorite Potter of the Roan or other Penland area potter you would like to ask a question? Let me know and it might show up here someday as a podcast.

Are you getting your 12 made? OK, how 'bout 6?

Have a good.....Tuesday?


Visiting An Old Friend

Michael Kline

It's been a while since I've had time to write. Recently, I teamed up with Matt Kelleher and fired the salt/soda kiln at the Penland School of Crafts. This kiln was built at the Barns by Tracy Dotson and Suze Lindsay in 1993(?). During my residency(1998-2001) I repaired the kiln every other firing. Something was either melting, sagging, or cracking, but the kiln produced some nice pots. This kiln is a true survivor. At 14+ years old it's had quite a history. Suze fired the kiln during her residency, then Terry Gess fired the kiln until 1998, and I came along and fired it until 2001. The kiln somehow escaped demolition and in 2005 Matt and his wife Shoko Teruyama became residents and Matt revived the kiln. I must say it is firing very nicely (thanks to Matt's kiln compassion!). Old salt kilns never die, they just slowly melt away. Here are some of the pots we got out the kiln last week.