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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.

Thanks for visiting.

The Best of Sawdust and Dirt

A record of the goings on around Michael Kline Pottery!

Filtering by Tag: Pots

Straight Outta the Camera

Michael Kline

black slip over white slip/wax resist,
salt glaze

combed kaolin slip
copper glaze/salted

amber glaze w/ black underglaze
wood ash/salt effect

Well sort of. I sharpened each by 5%. The light boxes were dropped down about 18".

Now I miss the shadow a little bit. Thoughts?


Michael Kline

a tumbler in mid-facet
the table and it's trimmings

dipped in slip tumblers/vases

"I'm tellin' 'bout the midnight rambler
Well, honey, it's no rock 'n' roll show
Well, I'm a-talkin' 'bout the midnight gambler
and everybody got to go
"--the Rolling Stones

"...inspiration illuminates at the strangest times...the still of the night can bring the sharpest clarity to the creative mind that otherwise might struggle in the fog of daylight and all its distractions.:))..we are a weird mob" ---Sharon Risdale from Facebook

Here I am telling you all about it. The crunch week has begun in its typical late night fashion. All of this with some sort of hope that in the flurry something good gets made.

I began this series with the intention of faceting these pots and ended up throwing some new shapes and not even faceting some. Funny how change comes along. Although the unfaceted ones will be a bit heavier than intended, they will make nice vases. It's a tough call to leave the pots as they are and take the risk of a hunch that they will be good. But I guess it's all about the gamble. More news tomorrow.

Red Dirt Harvest: The Earth's Best Clay, Really

Michael Kline

after about 2 weeks of very dry weather the clay is ready to be bagged, or stored.
notice the big space between the wrapped clay block and

the wooden frame.

Maybe not a commercially viable clay, but it's the only one like it for me. Maybe this makes it more valuable to me!? Maybe it makes the pots better? Who's to know? It's still a lot of work until I improve the "extraction" process!

Here's the update I promised on last week's clay harvest. A narrative in pictures...

The texture of the sheet (and some air bubbles) is intact when uncovered

I got this trick from Ron about cutting the clay to remove.
each section holds about 100# clay
ready for storage. notice impressions from the wire in the clay frames.

Monday: Clocking In

Michael Kline

Monday morning coming down.

I've made a quick visit this morning to check these tumblers and flip them. They were thrown late last night, and needed to be flipped to even the drying. Since the wood stove was going overnight I wanted to catch them before they got too dry. These were thrown fairly thick and will be faceted when they are about a "cheddar cheese" hardness.

A funny thing happens when I throw a bunch of something. Many times a form will evolve in the space of a ware board. [Check out the shapes of the cups on the left with the cups on the right.] During this session I was thinking that I should make these quickly because the real time is spent in the faceting later. Since time is of a potter's premium I was looking for a way to make these that would be direct and at the same time freeze a sort of freshness to the throwing. [this isn't very logical since I will be faceting, later!] So towards the end of this grouping I was throwing the cups in one pull, and then collaring up the top half, if that makes any sense....I know, it's hard to describe this...

Anyway it's all in my head and the results play out in my hands. The desire for change is pretty strong in me. The back story of this shape goes way back to my "altering" days. Under the influence of "trickier" pots. I haven't made these for quite a while, since I've been in "crockery" mode. But Stacey (and others) ask me when I'm going to make this pot again, so it's to the service to my "clientele that I yield for this one. And I'm glad I did, but this desire for change could explain my impulse to evolve this shape.
It's mailing time! Thank goodness Stacey is here to help with the labels and stamps! Then they're off to the post office. If you're not on the list by now you'll probably not get a card this time around, but you can sign up to receive future postcards and emails announcements here.

I'll try to follow up this post with the results of the faceting. It will be facet-nating, I'm sure. [sorry]


Postal Mailing

Michael Kline

I'm getting ready to mail my card out for the kiln opening! (see countdown clock to the right!) I'm a little late but you don't have to be if you're not signed up yet! Please sign up on my mailing list, there's still time. I'll be licking stickering stamps tomorrow night!

I'm getting some "pedestals" cut for the kiln opening yard! Here's one of the pedestals with a jar on display. We'll have a preview of the pots on Friday, the 7th. There will be light refreshments on Friday and maybe a birthday cake! Then on Saturday morning, the 8th, we'll have the sale!

I better get busy and make the pots I still need. Here's my list:
  • teapots
  • small mugs
  • platters
  • 5 gallon jars
  • 8 gallon jars
  • wine cups
  • pill boxes
  • pitchers
Have a good Saturday folks!

Just Because

Michael Kline

When I started blogging a few years ago, I made a deal with myself, and maybe the devil, that I would only share music videos if there was some connection to pottery making. Consequently I haven't shared many music videos!

But today Gary Hatcher shared this video via Facebook, and I just have to share with YOU! What is the connection to pottery? Well I can tell you that it's not the shiny suit or the go-go dancers. But there is an energy and focus these guys have that we all should envy and try to capture to use ourselves when we are at work. With just bass, guitar and drums, these guys unleash a really big sound (and did I say Go-Go Dancers?!) So go out there and kick out some jams with your work!

I listen to all kinds of music while I'm working . With a firing just around the corner you can expect my joint to be jumpin'.

Thanks for letting me indulge.

Last Wet Week

Michael Kline

red dirt harvest!

As I head into the last wet week, I finally have a batch of red dirt, the first since November! But it looks like I won't have the time to mix it with the fire-clay and feldspar till next session! That's OK, I probably have enough left from the reclaim batch I just ran through the pug mill for the coming week. It's exciting to get this clay in my hands finally after what seems like a "non-profit" process! I just need to come up with a more efficient way to process the dirt.

new cut rim and compressed platter edge

When I make the small plates with the cut edge, all seems right. But When I make bowls or platters I don't feel that the cut edge is helping the pots, especially bowls. Today I made 10 12-14 lb. bowls and platter/bowls with wide lips. [sorry, no proud picture of the table full of big bowls. I'll try to remember to brag tomorrow]I don't intend to cut the edges. I'll just paint a design on the rim, instead. But the last couple of these I had an idea to cut the edge on the wheel directly after they were thrown and while the clay is wet. One of the main reasons I don't do this until after the foot ring is cut, is to avoid cracks that result from the downward pressure of the trimming tools. The cut edges are somewhat compromised, structurally and tended to crack at the cut edge.

So my idea was to cut the edge while it was wet and then slowly compress the rim from both above and below the cut edge. As my friend Pat would say about now, "You with me?"
The result was pretty nice, I thought, so I made another. By compressing the edge just a bit I might avoid cracking, but the firing will have the last say on this matter!
After supper I made a few knob and all pill box jars. These were some of my favorite pots in the last firing, so I want to continue to cover this one to see where I can take it. Well it's very late as I write this but I wanted to jot don a few of these ideas before I went off to dreamland! Tomorrow is a short day as I get to pick up the girls from school and do something fun with them.

The girls were practicing their bike riding tonight. Evelyn is riding well on her own and Lillian is still on training wheels. But they're both are getting a lot better! It's hard around here to find a flat and safe road without a lot of traffic. So we wait till after supper when traffic slows down to get out on our stretch of Snow Creek Rd. Stacey bought some bright orange traffic cones for the road and I think I'll leave them out there. It's amazing how much slower (and quieter) people go around them!! But that may not fly for long.

Well that's all for now. The week ahead promises to be kind of crazy with the deadlines approaching, so hang on!

Blue Birds, Chicks, and Bloggin'

Michael Kline

Spring break is behind us and the chicks were wild!

Even the bluebirds wanted in on some pottery fun!

But seriously, I have been curbing my enthusiasm for bloggering every little thing I do and have found it very productive!

Who would've known?

After a visit with Turner last week and some close examination of some alkaline glazed pots Catawbaware, I had the thought that some of these handles must have been thrown. It's quite possible that they were pulled, but I had a hunch about some of these. After some brief experience over the past few years of my fascination with this style handle, I thought there's no better way except to do.

here's the cylinder that I will cut the handle from.
I carefully scored with a needle tool. If you go too fast you may lose control of the soft clay and bang up the handle.
The cut handle layed out on the table to measure equal length for each handle.
A trial attachment.
The handle with a coil added to the upper part of the attachment and smoothed in.
Not bad to my eyes. But we'll see where this goes. The only drawback to this kind of handle is that it makes it harder (but not impossible) to balance a piece of glass on the handle to get a glass run in the glaze. But I like the lines and the thinner cross section of the handles. I think they will be easier to hold.

Back to it and then a trip to Asheville for a visit to Kyle's and then Clay Club at Odyssey!

Who's Counting?

Michael Kline

Rather than speculating on the success of yesterday's phenomenon that is the Akar Yunomi Show, I've decided to just give you a few numbers (provided by Akar via their Facebook page).

  • 240 cups sold in the first 14 minutes
  • 500 cups sold in the first hour
  • 686 cups sold in 12 hours
The Big Cojones prize goes to Elaine and Tom Coleman with the highest priced cups, $350. The Low Baller's prize goes to Victoria Christen, who edged out Kent McLaughlin for the cheapest cup, at $25. It seemed that all price points sold, not just the low end, although the most common price seemed to be around $30.

North Carolina had the most potters (of course) with 24 and here are the other tallies:

MT 12
MA 11
IL, NY, PA 10
GA 8
CO, MN, VA 7
TX, UT, WI 6
CA, IA, OH 5
MO, MI, Canada,AZ, IN 4
CT, OR, KY, NE, FL, WA 3
MD, SC, VT, MS 2
KS, LA, WV, NM, AK, NH, ID, DC 1

mia- HI, NJ, ND, SD, AL, TN, ME, RI, DE, OK

simple math:
194 potters x 5 cups
=970 cups

[i can't guarantee these numbers as
I was counting them by hand on my
screen, but you get the point.]

That means that there are still about 300 cups to get!

Many galleries have tried their hand at this type of show with marginal success. But Sanjay Jani and his Akar Design have put their time into this show. This is no overnight success. They have been doing this show for several years and have fined tuned the event with top notch presentation and most importantly a wide range of excellent potters. Additionally, it's no small feat to take the time and put in the resources to photograph and input the data for the web site and continue to present the work so well. Then there is the bandwidth for the server to handle the massive rush of traffic when the online show opens. Well, I could go on...

But in the end, who doesn't like a cup? It's really the love of the cup that drives the folks at Akar, and the many who sit down at their computers to buy them. The cups in this years show are as diverse as we are as a culture. Most of our cabinets are probably overflowing with cups, but that doesn't stop us from adding to our collections. Pots break, or they get tired, better one comes along, our habits change, or we seek a different texture or color. And as we evolve in either our taste or our depth as collectors, hopefully there will be a pot that fits our needs and a potter out there to make it.

This show will continue to grow and include future generations of potters. At least I hope it does. It's one of the few events each year that truly embody the excitement that I have for pottery. As Sue Weisenburger commented on Akar's FB page, "[It's] One of my favorite 5 minutes of the year!"

My fellow POTR Stan Andersen's beautiful cup!
7 out of 15 of our guild were in the show!

Did you buy a cup? Did you have a favorite cup in the show? Were there surprises? Let us know with a brief comment. Thanks!

Now back to pottery making!

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!

Eight B4 I Eat

Michael Kline

Forgot to get these in the previous post! Since I got a late start in the shop after a late night, I spun these off and put them into the sun. I'll put handles on after lunch. The Shimpo is whirring and the pots are coming off easily. Fun!

Our huge cherry willow in the back yard is literally buzzing with hundreds of bees! (maybe thousands?)

Good Weather

Michael Kline

Just browsing over the archives and saw this post from a year ago and realized that the hot weather we're having this week can easily yield to cold this time of year in the mountains. Usually Old Man Winter plays his little joke just when the apple trees are blossoming! Well at least there's plenty of wood cut for the wood stoves. I guess I've finally caught up with cut, stacked and dry wood. But for now we're enjoying the sunny warm days! Good weather to make big pots. Film at 11 (p.m.)

Yours Truly

Michael Kline

It's been a while and I wish I could say that I've been really productive. But editing OPP1 can be even more time consuming than just sitting down and composing from the top of my head. But I hope you have been enjoying the diversity of material here on ye olde blogge. Other distractions include taking walks in the summer spring sunshine, canoeing on the pond, lifting riding lawnmowers to the detriment to my neck and shoulders, and playing in the dirt!

I finally finished processing about 500 lbs. of red dirt and came to the conclusion that I need bigger versions of my tools to get a bigger yield! (duuuH) Instead of shovel, 1/2 in. drill with jiffy mixer, I need a backhoe and a 100 gallon blunger! Then we'll be talking! I also had some good feedback from Tom Turner about my clay body and we invented (at least in on paper) a giant french coffee press type of clay plunger. (to separate rocks and small stones from slip before it is dried and pugged)

I finally cut the plates that have been under plastic since Sunday. I noticed this subtle influence as I was looking over this patterned wire cut. Can't say it was a conscious thing, but I had a little chuckle and thought I would share.

freshly thrown plates among stuff confiscated from Jack

Tried to make 12 by 12 (midnight) and did them by 1 a.m. Instead of making after supper pots, I got into selecting and arranging some pots that will be heading to GA and the Signature Shop's next exhibit, The Southern Pot. Below are the pots (on the 1959 Blaupunkt New York console) that will heading to 3267 Roswell Rd. All are for sale. Contact the Signature Shop for the pots and email me if you're interested in the Blaupunkt!

...until next time!

other peoples posts.

NCECA Report: Glenn Adamson, Part II

Michael Kline

[ed. note-- this a continuation of Mark's coverage of and reaction to Glenn Adamson's lecture at NCECA "...And into the Fire: Post-studio Ceramics", originally published in Sawdust & Dirt on 4th April 2010]

II. A Quintessence of Dust, Eating from Tubing, and Tiny Shoots of Hope

That we are at the end of something is undeniable. It is reflected in the decline of domestic Western ceramics industries just as it is in the decline of studio pottery and ceramics programs generally. Capitulation to, or appropriation of, the strategies of Big Art will always be the arc to which ceramics will have to bend to justify its place within academic art departments and art museums where, however ennobled by theory, it will in the best case still be tainted by the valueless dirt under its fingernails. Academic and museum ceramics exist in a precariously funded environment of shrinking budgets where everything—especially culture—is being put to the sword. Everything, that is, except for the sword-makers workshops, they being indispensable to the unstoppable expanding military and national security complex. No doubt the recent economic collapse has put the squeeze on us all (I know a couple of recent PhDs in micro-electrical engineering who can't find jobs). While studio pottery may be an increasingly small dot on the increasingly small map of non-pop culture, it claims a space within the growing slow-culture critique of late-day capitalism. The buy-local, artisanal, unhurried foodies are interested in connection/specificity/place/ethical production/haptic experience in the face of an increasingly unsustainable and devitalized world order. They bring together concerns around health, ethics, aesthetics, sustainability, and community. They are buying pots at studio tours, home shows, and (Glenn Adamson did allow for the internet's yet-to-be determined dynamic influence) web-based sales directly from the potters themselves, though that doesn't mean it's easy when nobody except the super-rich seem to have any dough. The international movement that announced itself in Seattle in 1999 was a manifestation of a more general reconsideration of the unpaid costs of global capitalism. That rejection runs the spectrum from DIY through backyard gardening, to the hand-couched loaves at upscale farmer's markets, and yes, knowing who, how, and where both your coffee and its cup was made. Any incipient doubts about free-market capitalism’s future were vindicated by the market crash of last year. While we potters are economically minuscule players, we are part of something enduring, radical, and important that begins in its small way to address an alternative vision of a viable future. We are not sentimental dreamers, but contemporary interpreters of ancient continuities that are more relevant now than perhaps ever before. Until we eat and drink from tubing, pots will have a future. As the center becomes more and more aridly self-referential—a sterile promontory—the margins offer tiny shoots of hope.

Mark Shapiro is a potter, workshop leader, and occasional curator from Worthington, MA. Mark is reporting from the 2010 NCECA conference in Philadelphia and will join the Sawdust & Dirt bloggers thereafter.
Mark Shapiro has made wood fired functional pots in Western Massachusetts for the past twenty years. He is a frequent workshop leader and panelist. Mark's pots can be seen in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian Institution, the Racine Art Museum, the Mint Museum (NC), the International Museum of Ceramics at Alfred,NY, and the Currier Museum (NH).
Mark can be reached at

NCECA Report: Glenn Adamson, Part I

Michael Kline

I. Alas Poor Cup, I Knew You Well

Glenn Adamson's "...And into the Fire: Post-studio Ceramics" stood out among the general hum and drum of good-enough thinking and speaking at the panels and lectures that I caught at NCECA. This was anticipated; after all it was the "distinguished" lecture. Agree or disagree with his thesis, his performance at the podium upholds—well, maybe in our field it's more a case of creates—a very high standard of discourse. (Jody Clowes was another exceptional presenter. I’m sure there were more—I could only make it to so many panels.) Adamson spoke his speech trippingly on his tongue, with a temperance that did give it smoothness. His argument as I understood it, that the increasing vulnerability and precariousness of the practice of studio-based craft—that's us potters—and the decline of the studio as a sacrosanct space, is a given. The way forward lies in "distributed authorship" a kind of partnering between studio, factory, with a good measure of reappropriation of artifacts thrown in. He points out that craft has always been present on the factory floor (skilled workers cast, glazed, and fired the Great Urinal that Monsieur Mutt signed). He cites John Roberts's—not the guy who recently enshrined the corporation's own First Amendment protection, though given the abstruseness of the logic, could be—idea of a dynamic triangle of "skill" (we know what this is) /"deskilling" (selecting objects)/"re-skilling"(re-engaging those objects in an artwork); any skilled labor can be claimed and re-contextualized into practice—and therein lies a craft. We are left with either the "China syndrome" wherein anything at all can be made cheaply with amazing skill (by people whose working conditions are what?who live how? and are paid how much?) to the specs of our pay-as-go and ship-it-out whims. Alternatively, there are "disappearing acts," studio-based use of non-studio based techniques (sandblasting grandma's china for example), a dystopia of reskilling: subtracting, curating, editing down; the physical and cultural abrading of reappropriated objects. A heap of shards from a doomed pottery industry is piled against a wall in a museum. Clare Twomey's bluebirds for-the-taking are strewn about the gallery floors of the V&A, her swan song in blue to the end of a good run for clay in the Western world, perhaps the one really moving—rather than simply interesting—image shown.

Adamson’s closing remark that monuments to death are some of the most powerful artworks seemed grimly nuanced: Alas poor cup (produced by factory or studio domestically), I knew you well. R.I.P.

[ed. note-- to be continued on Monday, Part II. A Quintessence of Dust, Eating from Tubing, and Tiny Shoots of Hope]

Mark Shapiro is a potter, workshop leader, and occasional curator from Worthington, MA. Mark is reporting from the 2010 NCECA conference in Philadelphia and will join the Sawdust & Dirt bloggers thereafter.
Mark Shapiro has made wood fired functional pots in Western Massachusetts for the past twenty years. He is a frequent workshop leader and panelist. Mark's pots can be seen in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian Institution, the Racine Art Museum, the Mint Museum (NC), the International Museum of Ceramics at Alfred,NY, and the Currier Museum (NH).
Mark can also be reached at