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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: Peter Pugger

Slackin' Pottery Bum and Self/Studio Improvement

Michael Kline

As the saying goes, sometimes you just have to remount the horse. My 500 word a day goal must have short circuited the wiring in my bloghead. It appears that despite my best efforts to NOT make any New Year's resolutions, I swung for the fences (or the stars, or the tree tops), and imploded.

I guess I could play the weather card or the snow-day-kids-at-home-almost-all-month-card. But let me just play the January card. I read that several other potters seem to experience the same thing last month. Click here for one such story. But, in defense of getting (some) things done, for the January scorecard:

1. I  managed to make my yunomi for the annual AKAR Yunomi show and  Kyle Carpenter was kind enough to include them in his recent firing. Thanks KC!  Check out Kyle's beautiful pots that are now available for purchase.

2. After 6 years I finally have a supplementary heat source! I hooked up the propane heater in my studio with the help of my farming friend Ronnie B. This is a really big deal for me, especially in the month of January when it gets really cold and I'm not always in the studio to keep the wood stove going.  I can check that one off the punch list towards my official C.O. Now if I can just get my outdoor wiring redone I will give the inspector a call.

3. And finally, I have my Peter Pugger pug mill/extruder is back in working order, thanks to the Loafer's Glory Sandblaster and Spruce Pine's Superior Construction's fine welding! The pug mill repair was another one of those projects that seemed impossible. I mean, the thing is heavy! and although it has wheels it's not easy to get in the truck without help.

So I'm really happy to have it back. The soft reclaimed clay that I have been running through it is is like a high octane boost to my February pottery fuel tank. I've discussed this before and I think there are definitely two camps. There's the "reclaim your precious clay trimmings and scraps against all odds and all costs" camp and the "are you stupid, ain't nobody got time for that" (reclaim) camp.

I guess this old dog stands stubbornly and firmly in the former. There's just something really nice about that reclaim and it is a very old habit to break. I have missed that old Peter Pugger. Pugging my clay is part of my potter DNA or something. I just wasn't feeling 100% without it.

Check this page out. Don't you think mine looks a lot like this one? (aside from my paint job)

4. (Dis)Honorable Mention: almost forgot this rabbit hole.  I opened a can of worms with my need to compile the "FB Ceramic Index" thingy. If you haven't heard, in the past couple of weeks, I've put together a list of Facebook Pottery/Ceramics Pages. You, (yes you!) can check it for the latest by clicking on the tab at the top of this page  or here. ;) I personally wanted to have an easy way to track my favorite FB potters pages and thought there might be others like me. So i dug my teeth into some FB developer code and came up with this "beta" facebook Index.  The total list is at about 300 now and growing but I've only had time to list 10I'm not sure I will be able to keep up with the research or fairly curate it but I'll keep trying. Hopefully Scott can come to my rescue and help out with his mad developer skillz.

The current "Index" is a top 10 (w/ highest followers) FB Pages. It's a great way to find clay artists. More and more are coming in every day and I'll try to update every week on Saturday. It's a live updating kind of FB "blog roll" of sorts, kinda. Not really sure. I'm hoping to find time to curate different lists. I had a suggestion to Index university clay programs, for example. Any suggestions are welcome. It's a work in progress.

So, now here I sit, humbled and sheepishly tapping at the clickety clackety keys. Trying to get a feel for that writing thing while I should be chained to the wheel to get pots made for my upcoming foiring in about 10 days!

I just wanted to check in and let you know that I didn't fall off the face of the earth, it's just that January happened and I'm back, I hope. Now it's time to fall INTO the face of the earth and my Shimpo Scream. (not the actual brand name of my 1972 vintage pottery wheel, just the sound it kinda makes)

I love your comments and feedback, so let me know what's up.


No More Blues, Just Green!

Michael Kline

After all of the whining about expectations and such last week I have good news concerning my most recent endeavor, the Spruce Pine Potters Market, or SPPM, pronounced, "sppm". Going in with moderate expectations, taking lots of pots, and putting my best foot forward, it did not disappoint! This years show was probably the best ever.

I finished unwrapping the few pots that were left and jumped right into fixing the e-kiln so that I could fire the pots I made last week. The 150 or so pots will be heading up the road to Courtney's wood kiln for a firing on Friday! So away with the bins of wrapped pots and onward with my brushes and some glazing!

I'm real excited to fire again, for a lot of the ideas that came from the last firing are still freash in my head. It was also nice to look over the pots at the show the other day as John and I set up the booth. The pots continued to reveal themselves and I had some nice convos with some of my fellow potters who always brings different perspectives. I'm looking over some notes and getting pots dec-o-rotated today as I nurse this old bisque kiln through one last firing before I gut it and replace all of the rusted parts and faulty switches, etc.

The old L & L's been under a roof, out of doors for the past 8 years and it shows. After taking the first section apart to replace elements, I realized what I feared to be true. Rust, rust, rust...The terminal covers have to be replaced, but I also realized that the terminals themselves were corroded and need replacing. Maybe it is time to replace this old kiln? Well, replacing it is way more expensive. And besides how out of place would a new kiln look surrounded by all of my other equipment that hales from the late sixties (Paoli mixer) to early seventies (Shimpo Scream™, and original Peter Pugger Classic)

I guess it wouldn't look all that bad!


Back to the brush! Thanks for checking in.


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Ramping Up: A Feat of Epic Proportion (or stubbornness)

Michael Kline

Maybe it was a coincidence, but today, Nick Joerling came by to drop off some work we're taking up to D.C. for him. And I had the time to try to move the old Peter Pugger into the studio. Incidentally, I bought the Peter Pugger from Nick, back when I was a resident at Penland. But I failed to coerce Nick into helping out, Damn. So, as I checked the e-kiln and watched its slow climb in temperature, I had time to push, pull, and strain to get this heavy machine up the steps and into place. I tried chaining it to my truck with marginal success. The pug mill has two hard wheels, but it was almost impossible to move around on the gravel, hence the truck idea. I built a ramp out of 4 x 4's and scraps of plywood, boards, etc. and I can't tell you how much joy it brought me to use these little scraps of plywood and boards that most sane people would have burned or thrown out.

But I was still stumped on how to get the mill up the ramp. It's heavy! I felt that there must be some way I can get this up the ramp by myself, or with the truck!


I broke down and called Stacey to see if she could muscle it up the ramp with me. But she wasn't coming home for a while and I was growing impatient. I tried to think about simple physics, pulleys, winch, levers, hmmmm???

Then it came to me!! What i needed was another wheel! Duh! SO off I go to the hardware store to buy a caster for the front of the mill and made this third wheel.

What followed I don't have still images or video footage of, but first I tried to push this behemoth up the ramp and slipped a couple of times, but the adrenaline was coursing through my veins. Would I be pugging clay by the end of the day?? I stepped back and then had the sensible idea of pulling the mill up the ramp. So I pulled a chain around and through the frame and stepped up to the porch to try to pull. I was able to get the thing rolling up the ramp with all my might. But then I had to let go of one hand to re-grab the chain as I pulled it toward me. Could I do it, should I do it?? (this is where a soundtrack would come in real handy) You must be thinking that I have lost my mind, by now??

Well as you can see from the pictures below, (you'll have to take my triumphant word for it), I got the mill up to the porch level, and easily rolled it into the studio. But then I realized that I one more feat to perform. The final ramping up onto the platform that the mill sits on. No problem, thought I. And for once I was right. Just a simple ramp made with ware boards and the ubiquitous scrap pieces of 2 x 4 and 2 x 6! With a rolling start I rolled the mill into place and plugged her/him in.

The rest of the story is history. I mixed a batch of very, very sandy reclaim clay to run through to attempt to get some of the flakes of rust out, before i run my "good" clay through.

AHHH. Now I'm ready to turn some pottery!