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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: Terry gess

Writer@Large, Katey Schultz

Michael Kline

Way back before I had this blog, Katey Schultz wrote frequently, brilliantly, and at length about her life at her web-log, The Writing Life. Katey's blog has been going strong since 2005 and it was one of the reasons I decided to give this medium a whirl and to see if writing a blog would better my writing craft. I didn't want to be a writer in the "career" sense, but I wanted to be a better writer when asked to submit an artist statement or present my slide show which I "script".

Katey hails from nearby Celo, NC and began her professional writing career writing articles about some of our better known craftspeople here in the greater metropolitan Penland area. You've most likely read her articles in Ceramics Monthly, Ceramic Arts & Perception, Surface Design Journal, Contemporary Impressions, and Metalsmith. She has written articles about Cristina Cordova, Lisa Clague, Kenneth Baskin, Terry Gess, Jenny Mendes, Emily Reason, Matt Kelleher, and Shoko Teruyama, among others too numerous to mention! Many of her artist profiles have been covers for these magazines.

My point is, Katey is a fabulous writer and knows ceramics inside and out!

In 2011, Katey started Writer@Large, a writing for artists consultation service. Basically, if you need an editor for your artist statement, or someone to write brilliant copy for web site content or press releases, Katey can take the careful time and attention needed to write great content, while you continue to do the things you do best, working in your studio making stuff!

Just last year, Katey was the press/P.R. manager to our Spruce Pine Potter's Market and attracted much attention for us with her brilliant writing and well connected press credentials.
Although I don't think Katey will write your blog, ;-) I do hope you will find Katey indispensable for all of your other writing needs. Here is what one of Katey's clients said recently of their collaboration,

“It is through the honest and intelligent interaction between visual art and writing that the subtle undercurrents of ideas can be revealed and appreciated. Through dialogues, interviews, and conversations, Katey's clear and smart voice time and time again unveils the embedded language of form and content in my creative expression. She is a pleasure to work with, open and diligent, clever and sophisticated in her analysis. I would recommend her to anyone seeking a professional and talented arts writer.” -- Cristina Cordova, ceramic sculptor

I have added a link to Katey's writing services for artists in the top of the sidebar. If you're like me, you probably have your hands full enough with the clay and don't always have the time and attention needed to update your artist statement, or send out press releases, or send email newsletters out as frequently as you should. Maybe you're applying for a grant, or a scholarship? Katey's your writer. Get in touch by clicking the link at the top of the right sidebar! You'll be happy you did. She's really awesome.

Well, it's back to the studio for me. I hope you have a great week!

Addendum: Here is a great post about the importance of those who write about art!

Guest Blogger: Terry Gess

Michael Kline

Here is a post from the past that I really like. Yes, I could have just shared it on Facebook, but many of you aren't on FB. Yes, I could have just linked to it, but I wanted to put it front and center in hopes that Terry might write more for the blog! So if you like this as well, email mail Terry and let him know, i.e.  Let's fill his Inbox!! ;-)

Terry Gess is a potter, storyteller, and former resident artist at Penland School of Crafts. He is currently the Chair of Professional Crafts-Clay Program at Haywood Community College. See Terry's pottery at

You can reach Terry at

Take, Make, or Break

There’s a story told about a Cherokee woman who wore her thick black hair in a long woven braid halfway down her back. Her young husband told her often and with pride about how he loved her beautiful hair, how it represented for him so much about their heritage and her beauty. One day he came home and found the braid, a scissors and a small note on the rocking chair that he always sat in, close to the wood stove. “You love my hair so much, I thought I’d see how much you loved me.”

On the shelf in our kitchen there’s a small slip-cast porcelain cup. I visited a potter who lives alongside a small, wooded lake in the north of Finland and she gave it to me. She made it straight sided, clean & cool in the Scandinavian design aesthetic that is so admired and celebrated. It’s been in our kitchen cup collection for years.

This cup is glazed a hard, shiny green, as pedestrian as Cone 6 can get. It’s an example of how challenging glazing can be, with thickness, application, temperature, and atmosphere all conspiring beyond our fingers to take, make, or break a pot. For me, glazing is the hardest part of making good pottery.

What I really admire in this cup is the handle. This Finnish potter has fashioned it from a thin, lean piece of branch, a young, smooth wood with very fine specks or dots in a subtle pattern all across the bark. The cut off ends reveal a dense, yellow sapling wood, like beech, or ash. She has subtly turned the branch into a handle through some kind of hidden plug. The handle seems to float as if by circumstance alongside the cup, like an odd juxtaposition of two friends that don’t seem quite matched to each other. There’s nothing particularly special in the form or glaze — in fact I don’t think that I’ve ever even drunk from this cup — but the handle keeps it in our kitchen, an object of repeated interest, a memento of a trip to Finland, a connection with another sensibility, an approach to form that is beyond my own.

Then one morning it broke. A plate was moved and in the moment of liftoff the plate caught the lip of the little cup and sent it over the edge, down to the floor. The crash was spectacular for something so modest and thin-walled — a shattered, splintered explosion as if some pent up rage was contained in that cup, or perhaps some complex spring-loaded contraption. Amidst the slivers and shards, there laid that handle, still attached to the bit of clay lapel that bridged it to the cup. Almost as if to say, “Maybe you like this handle more than you liked this cup.”

Musical Interlude/Studio Tour

Michael Kline

Check out my neighbor Terry Gess play the piano! And if you think he's good at that, you should see his pots! [hint: he's been making pots a lot longer!] Terry will be part of this weekend's big holiday studio tour! One of the biggest and best in the country. The quality of the crafts are unparalleled. Check out the map and see for yourself! And check out Terry's web site to see his work. See you on the tour!

It Takes Three

Michael Kline

3 sides of 1cup
Kline Cup, 2009
3.5" x 4.75"
local stoneware with kaolin swirl
underglaze brushwork,other slips
alkaline ash glaze
fired in Terry Gess' salt kiln
(thanks Terry, nice job!)

When photographing a cup, it's hard to choose a side that conveys the pot's best features. I found it particularly challenging with this cup. So I took three pictures and welded them together with my favorite image handler, GraphicConverter! There seems to be a lot going on in this pot. When holding any pot we can take in its glory by turning it upside down, turning it around, all the while taking in its visual ingredients. Years later we can see things we hadn't seen before. The pot reveals its splendor in time. Capturing this in one picture is very difficult. I wish I could just pass this cup around. Maybe in the future we can get together. I'll be at the NC Potters Conference this coming week. If you're going to be there, drop me a line. michaeljkline[at]gmail[dot]com! Let's meet up!

Friday Settlins'

Michael Kline

I just stopped into Terry Gess' studio for a chat and saw all the pots he's getting ready for a firing. I must admit I was extremely envious of all the pottery he's made! I'm very ready to have this moving/construction behind me. Also, it's been a real blessing to teach this last week, I've enjoyed meeting everyone, adding to the cash flow, but now I have to get down and make some pots! For one, that's my job, my livelyhood. For two, it's difficult to find material for the blog when I'm NOT making.


It's also been tricky to do demo's when I haven't really worked in the studio in earnest for a few months now. September? Making pots, for me, is all about momentum, repetition and hope that the next pot off the wheel will be the best yet. This can only happen if I darken the doorstep and go straight for the clay. Unfortunately as many potter/bloggers report on a regular basis, life gets in the way. All of this life stuff is good, though. It all goes into the "pot". Is that what people mean when they use that very annoying phrase, "It's all good?" I've always felt that phrase to be a "cop out" but maybe it's just a way to say that some things are beyond our control and that in the end things find a way of either working themselves out or not. Maybe it just means "that's cool." Maybe I should go look it up on Wikipedia!


Teaching is a great way for me to "test" half baked ideas and share what may be perceived of as wisdom. Sometimes the thoughts are clear and helpful, other times clumsy and misguided. But , ha, "it's all good!" When I walked into the clay studio at Haywood the other morning, Bob Dylan was sounding from the stereo and I liked that. The song, "Idiot Wind" was playing and I hoped that it was a bit of advice and that I would keep the verbiage to a minimum. Well, I guess I talked a lot. Oh well. I did manage to get almost all of the pots made and finished, which was a good thing.


Stacey's in Raleigh til tomorrow so I'm the alpha parent for a couple of days. That's fine. The girls and I had fun making the Fatoush last night in preparation for Evelyn's first grade "Egyptian Festival". Unfortunately she melted down this morning as she realized there wasn't enough time to finish her 'tunic' and we had to go. I tried to explain to her that it wasn't the end of the world. That it was a lot to ask a first grader to make their costume all by themselves, without help from their parents. As the tears streamed and her eyes became redder than 2 tomatoes in a glass of buttermilk, I completely related to her, but when I said that it was "all good" her crying became louder and the trickery of that phrase was loud and clear. We made it to the truck and loaded up with her handmade sandals, which were awesome, and a big piece of fancy fabric that I was tried to convince her that it looked very "egyptian". I grabbed a safety pin and off we went. I sang a few nonsensical rhyming songs about applesauce perfume or something like that, and gradually the smile came and the laughter began.

It's all good.