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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: Sam Taylor

Coffee Break vol. 35

Michael Kline

Did I hear someone say #MugshotMonday? Or is just an echo in my memory?

Well neither, actually. It's just another volume in the undying series, Coffee Breaks™here at the Sawdust and Dirt BLOG, not to be confused with the podcast of the same name. This is about the clickety clack sound of the old keyboard but I must admit it is a reprint from another "blogging" platform. But, BOY, can i drop links into THIS format like nobodies business!

At any rate, here is the blog post I set out to cross post in the first place,

I met Marsha Owen at the Penland School of Crafts 25 years ago in a workshop being taught by GA potter Michael Simon. I also met Sam Taylor, Aaron Weissblum, Jane Shellenbarger, Suze Lindsay, and Mark Shapiro! It was quite a group. We were all young and wanting to be potters. Sam had only been making pots for a little over a year.

Suze and Jane were #corefellows at Penland, I had graduated from UTK and had only made pots for 5 years. Mark was probably the most experienced one being a little older than us and making pots since high school. We see each other from time to time.

We were all very much imprinted by Michael's demos and just being together working and playing at Penland for those 3 weeks changed us. Marsha and Suze and myself went on to be Penland resident artists. (at different times) and I teamed up with Mark and Sam (and Aaron for a time) as the brothers in clay in western Massachussetts. We lived and breathed pots.

For the last two winters Marsha has been to Penland to work in the #winterstudio at #Penland and we fired the salt kiln together. This paddled cup was in our valentine's day firing and Marsha gave it to me. But it has been sitting in the office at Penland with a little note. So today, I finally get to drink out of it and think of Marsha and all the rest.

Objects have all kinds of ways of engaging us with their forms, colors, and the memories they can evoke.


Michael Kline

the cousins in clay: mark shapiro, samantha henneke, michael kline, bruce gholson, sam taylor
it's an early morning for this night owl, but there's lots to do today. the studio is overflowing with pots from XLIII and they await judgment of the pricing kind. this is a most difficult moment for me as a potter. sure, i have my standard pricing structure, but it doesn't account for the slightly unusual, the rare beauty. my daughters have picked out their one pot allotted to them from each firing.

maybe this process of grading should be done by some outside agency, really. price waterhouse? my mind is lost in the fog of expectation, or what my ceramic mind's eye saw as i glazed the pots and placed them in the kiln. lost in a fog of hope and desire.

but their true nature is better judged and appreciated by those other than their maker. (for now) without expectation, instead anticipation, the pots can shine in the eyes of their beholder.  like some sort of serendipity, customers will be excited when they discover them this weekend. just as a potter hopes while waiting for the kiln to cool, he hopes that the pots will be well received. that they will find good homes and be used there.

he also hopes that you are near enough, this weekend, to come to a row of massive oak trees along a mountain ridge just a short walk from the shop and kiln where these new pots will be. in the shade along side many other kindred pots that have come as far as seagrove, nc and as far as western massachusetts, all with the same hope of finding a place in your home.

Funny Numbers and Fresh Clay

Michael Kline

I'm a bit behind reporting on the happenings leading up to the next firing and the Cousins in Clay reunion, but here goes in a matter of a few photos!

I was happy and a bit overwhelmed to have two helpers yesterday, my intern Adam MacKay and his partner Molly Belada. Molly and Adam are undergrad ceramics majors at App State, in Boone. Adam has been helping me every week and Molly has been helping my neighbor, Courtney. After some number crunching and clay body calc, we set up the mixing area where I proceeded to find not one, but two wasp nests in two open bags of clay. Ouch. After some thorough paranoia and nest removal M and A mixed up enough of the fireclay mix that will be added to my red dirt in a week or so (I hope!)

The girls came up with a friend to make some pots (read: show off their pottery skills to their friend) but their wheel was covered with reclaim clay, so I set up my Shimpo banding wheel and hand turned it for them. It was just the thing and soon they were off to the woods to do some exploring and I was back to work.

I'm managing to get some nice pots made in and around carrying out final plans for next months Cousins in Clay Show. There's a lot to do but I'm so looking forward to seeing my old buds, Mark Shapiro and Sam Taylor, and all the pots they will be bringing. Check out our Facebook page to find out more.

OK, time for some lunch, then more pottery this afternoon.

Princess Grae and Queen Anne

Michael Kline

I'm yawning as I try to remember some of the thoughtful thoughts I had during my day. It was a great day, but it's late and I'm fading. [no nap] Courtney and Grae stopped in today and 1 y.o. Grae thought she would help an old guy out and wedge some clay.  Her ambition is amazing! My kids just ignore me when I ask them to do anything. ;-(

I went back to my old way of stacking sections and it was just fine. I have been using the more traditional capping technique for a while now, but I wanted to get a more ovoid shape. With capping I tend to get a taller shape, not as round. I was pleased with the shapes!  I'll put collars on top of these tomorrow to finish the necks.

On my walk home this evening I took some pictures of the Queen Anne's Lace in the field. Seems to be a bumper crop this year. Maybe it's on some kind of super productive cycle this year?! I love the lines of the drooping blossoms and the delicacy of the leaves and flowers. But in the coming days I will have to cut it all down as I prepare the grounds for next month's Cousins in Clay!! Mark and Sam are coming down from MA and Bruce and Sam(antha) are coming over from Seagrove. I'm totally consumed with planning, but it's all coming together and it should be a blast.

Just have to few pots before then!


Michael Kline

dispatched from the conference in Philadelphia.
captions to follow...

Sam Taylor is a potter living in Westhampton, MA. His wife Carol is a real photographer but Sam is playing "potteratzzi" while attending the NCECA conference this week. Hopefully Sam will continue to contribute to the blog in the future with his "pot on the spot" series that will begin in May. Sam can be reached at as well as dogbar pottery!

Simon Says

Michael Kline

Dear Simon Says,

My parents don't give me enough allowance money. I do the dishes every day.

Most of my peers are getting twice or three times what I get.
Its not fair. What should I do?
-Poor Me

Dear Poor Me.
You know a lot of potters feel this way. Never getting paid enough for doing the dishes, while friends in other jobs earn a lot more money. Why do we persist? We do it because we love it. I mean look at these great plates by Bernadette Curran or Sam Taylor. These are nice plates, a pleasure to use or even wash if that's your thing. Or this set by Sylvie Granatelli, what fun. I suggest you throw yourself into doing the dishes and soon you will feel like a kid again.

Bernadette Curran, Sam Taylor
Sylvie Granatelli
Dear Simon Says,
A friend of mine recently told me she does not believe dinosaurs ever existed. Furthermore she believes the earth is only 6.000 years old!?! This woman is obviously crazy, but she won't believe me. What can I tell this woman to persuade her to believe in the once dominant existence of these impressive creatures?

Thank you,

Dear Velocirapture,

Your letter really made me angry. Yes I know that some people think pottery is archaic and anachronistic, but calling us dinosaurs gets us nowhere. Since receiving your letter I have done a lot of reading and reflection on these issues. I have to say that I don't think there is really anything to argue about. When it comes to choosing between a mass produced mug with a logo and a lovely hand made mug by Nick Joerling, his piece is the natural selection.

Nick Joerling

That being said; I am a firm believer in intelligent design. I mean poorly thought out pottery is so disappointing. David Pier's work is so smart and well made; it doesn't really matter to me that it wasn't made on a wheel. It's wrong to say that round pots are better just because they are more fully revolved.

David Peir

I know pottery's heyday has passed, but it is still a vibrant field full of innovation and history. There are so many wonderful potters who have resurrected the art of clay, and there are potters who's work is filled with revelations. I think if you can save your friend from her misconceptions we will all prophet from your efforts.

Good luck and good potting.

Simon Levin is a regular contributor to Sawdust and Dirt. He lives and makes pots in Gresham, WI. To find out more about Simon Levin and his pottery go to
If you have questions for Simon he can be reached at

Name Dropping

Michael Kline


After publishing the previous post, I realized that I forgot to mention that Matt K is in a show at RedLodge Gallery with Brad Schwieger, Matt Long, David Hiltner, Jason Hess, James Brashear, Ted Adler, Dean Adams, and our wood-kiln-map guy, Simon Levin! After all, what would this blog be without mention of Simon!? The show is called INFERNO! Here are some other pots from the show.




Speaking of whom, Simon will be joining the Sawdust & Dirt columnists later this month, along with Mark Shapiro, Ayumi Horie, Don Pilcher, and Sam Taylor. More on this exciting news later.


Michael Kline

#1 cylinder
Sam Taylor, circa 2003

To end the day I made a few cylinders! One of the most basic shapes to a potter, the cylinder is usually just the starting point for more "well-rounded" pots. My favorite cylinder of all time is one I use pretty much every day. It holds a bunch of wooden spoons next to our stove. My buddy Sam Taylor made it and it holds a kind of mystery for me. I ask myself, "how can such a simple shape be so profound and functional!? It seems that all of my favorite pots have this question as part of their mysterious attraction.

From time to time, I take a stab at the cylinder! My results were OK. What came to mind during my after supper session was the other important concept of repetition and pottery. As an art student back in the heady days of post-modernism and Alphabet City, ideas were king and the output was secondary to my big ideas. That attitude never really jibed with the satisfaction and the organic process of discovery that is so central to the way I make pots. That is, making the same pot, over and over, in a series.

first ones, l to r
Here is a lineup and an evolution that in just a few pots I settled into, more or less. I started with slightly tapered vases and ended with a very different proportion and shape (at least in my eyes).
last set, l to r
There were a bunch more, I just wanted to use these as illustration of the way the proportions changed every so slightly. Working in a series lets me update each one as I go along. It gives room to tweek or just get it right. The first ones I made this afternoon were larger, about 4 lbs. The above were made with +/- 2 lbs. of clay.
Another design element that came to mind during their making was "Are the forms clear? Do they read as cups or vases? I made them to be vases and one of the things I tried was to taper the vase more so that it wouldn't be easy to handle and was more clearly to be used as a vase. Their weight is heavier that I would expect from a cup or any pot to be picked up casually. Maybe that will help mark out the functionality of these shapes.

I'm sure there are more thoughts in my head that have just escaped because of the hour.

Hopes and dreams...

Speaking of which I think it's time I did a little dreaming in the prone position!

z z z z z z .

Penland Ramble

Michael Kline

Mark at Penland today

I met Mark Shapiro at Penland on or about March 20th, 1989. Wow, twenty years ago! By some vernal coincidence, Mark has been here for a few days to visit and interview Paulus Berensohn and make a few demo's for McKenzie Smith and Gregory Miller's class. Tonight, Stacey, the girls, and I had the pleasure of having him over for dinner.

the original ad from Ceramics Monthly

Mark and I took that fateful workshop in March of 1989, along with fellow potters, Sam Taylor, Suze Lindsay, Marsha Owens, and Jane Shellenbarger, to study with Michael Simon who inspired us and a generation of potters to take the chance of being a potter and an artist.Things have changed a lot in the 20 years as far as how students assimilate information at the school but I would bet the experience of being at Penland is at it's core very much the same. It remains a place of intense energy, enthusiasm, and sharing.

Keeping in touch with friends,
Penland is a wireless campus!

STAR power!

downloading pots?

ACC Baltimore Report?

Michael Kline

Sam Taylor fielding a call
in Hayne Bayless' booth.

This just in from the mega booth of Sam Taylor, Hayne Bayless, and Meg Little. Doesn't look like a lot is happening on this first day of wholesale at the annual American Crafts Council Show in Baltimore. Here is Sam having yet another cup of yerba matte. Sales data is unavailable at this time. There were some buyers spotted in Jeff Kleckner's booth down the row. Good luck folks!

Not A & W

Michael Kline

Mug by Sam Taylor

A frosty mug for ya! This is a special room-temperature micro-crystalline glaze. Just leave your pot outside (not underneath roof) on a cold night. Unfortunately this glaze is very unstable and melts when you either pick it up or when you fill with any liquid. If you find yourself asking "why would someone leave such a beautiful piece of pottery sitting around on a saw horse?" have no fear, it has a great sense of balance!

I Forgot

Michael Kline

Sam and young Mason

I wanted to send a shout out to my man, Sam Taylor on his birthday yesterday, but somehow the day slipped away. So a day late, HAPPY BIRTHDAY Sam!

Also I found a little cup while packing/unpacking my studio yesterday. [sorry for the poor photo]
It was the first pot that I made on my fateful return to work (1/3/06) after my accident 3 years ago. It was quite a coincidence.

I've spent part of yesterday digging the ends of the trench for electrical service and I have been digging lots of dirt. It's nice stuff!
Here is our friend's daughter, Hattie, sporting an appropriate message. Maybe a good T shirt for blog fan's.

Coffee Break vol. #7

Michael Kline

Lucky 7! Hello all. My break is happening a little early today. What a surprise...Here a favorite mine from my main man, Sam Taylor, who is making some really sweet pots up there in New England. I can't say enough about Sam's pots, so why start now, I need to get back to my pots! (that are drying up in today's sun and wind.) But for those of you in the readership that are keeping score, this cup is made out of some really white clay, maybe porcelain. It's wood fired with salt glaze on a beautifully rendered round headed warbler.

Back to the pots.
Throwing outside is a real tricky situation, but I'm getting into it. Someday I'll have time to give Sam his due and write more about the pots.
Have a great afternoon, or evening if you're reading like Hannah over the ocean. (Hello Hannah) ;-)