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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: Tom Turner

Must Reads

Michael Kline

After a lapse of a month, here are my picks for this latest edition of Pottery Bloggery Must Reads. It's not that there isn't enough must read material out there, it's just that it's hard read it all, make pots, write a normal blog post, etc. yadda, yadda, yadda!

I could have just reprinted the last Must Reads and been fine with that. You can't go wrong reading any of those blogs. But as a self imposed rule, I've decided to try to widen the scope and spread the love around.

The first post is by Jeff Campana. The timing couldn't have been better for me as I explore porcelain clay bodies. In Clay Body Revisited, Jeff explains and justifies a thorough process of formulating, mixing, and testing a porcelain clay body. Check it out, here.

The next post is not really a blog post but an excellent article written by porcelain badass, Tom Turner. It's one of a slew of great articles Turner has posted on his web site. John Simmons told me about this article the other day, and after reading it, realized that it was a must read! I encourage you to check out the other articles out as well!

And lastly, Carter Gillies sent me to this blog about pottery, the creative process, and teaching written by Kelly Kessler. The thoughts are provocative and the writing is clear. I just kept scrolling down for more, a good sign of a must read! Kelly posts about every couple of days and I've added Kelly blog, Diving Into The Clay, to my blog roll, look for it!

That's it for now. If you have blog posts that you think are truly exception an have legs, please leave a link in the comments!

Today and Tomorrow

Michael Kline

After a couple of days of stoneware I hopped back on treadle wheel for my 12x12, this morning. The juggling act may be more than I am able to handle. The clays are so different. But it makes everything in the studio a little edgier, a little more challenging. But isn't making pots in the 21st century challenging enough? Couldn't I be content with the edginess that already exists in my studio? Turner claims that David Shaner only made porcelain in the winter when the snow was on the ground. I can totally relate to that instinct, but I am going to try to stretch it out into spring, maybe summer. I was talking to Kyle today and had the thought that another power wheel may just be the ticket, freeing up the treadle for trimming. Not in the budget (for now). Meanwhile I worked on Ellen Denker's newest post which I hope to upload for your reading pleasure very soon. Tomorrow is a wood cutting day with John followed by a mini road trip to the big city of Asheville for cornmeal and coffee. Actually, John and I are heading over to see Tom's new pots, then to Asheville to pick up some pots from American Folk Art, followed by a trip to Kyle carpenter's pottery empire to see the progress of his kiln rebuild. Then it's off to Alex Matisse's for the monthly gathering of the NC Clay Club!

Got all that? Maybe we'll see you somewhere along the line.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

And Now For Something Completely Different

Michael Kline

I just wanted to sneak this in before Don's post!

What is going on here, you might say? Well, I pulled out the home clay last night after taking the Turner Spic 'n Span Special for a spin around the shop and started my cycle for the wood kiln. Yes, on the heals of the very recent session with porcelain, (won't be the last), I'm going to try to simultaneously make stoneware and porcelain. What a crazy idea, right? Well here goes!

one for the losers (subtle), any guesses why?

Tom Turner at the Rennaissance in Asheville This Weekend

Michael Kline

happy guy Turner!

Steve and Lisa Hecker and myself helped Tom get set up for his workshop in Asheville. I wish I could be there for the weekend, looks like a good group rolling in from all over to see Tom make his pots and share all that he knows about glazes!

Hopefully Steve will have some good shots from the workshop and I'll try to share them if that happens.

Meanwhile I'll be having a couple of cold ones tonight with my other Asheville potter friends Kyle, Emily, Jon, and Eric! Then I'm picking up some porcelain and will get to work on some pottery for a change! I've done about all I can with various honey-do projects and need to restock my emptying shelves. Let's go to work!

Tom Turner Videos

Michael Kline

I went over to Tom's yesterday to shoot a video to promote his June 26, 27th workshop and we did it in one take! Not only will Tom show you all of his techniques and share his excitement about his porcelain and his glazes, he's raffling off a brand new Shimpo Whisper!!! to one of the workshop participants!! WOW. [translated for our non-french speaking readers : Wow!]

So what I am saying is, DON'T take the workshop so my odds of winning the new wheel will be better!!

OK, Here's the video and a couple of other ones we found lurking on YouTube.

This following video is an excerpt from Tom's DVD, that is available here!

This 4 disc DVD set documents a two day workshop he conducted at the North Carolina Pottery Center in Seagrove, North Carolina in May of 2005. Along with the workshop was a mini-retrospective of 34 of his favorite pots from his permanent collection spanning 1970 to 2004. These pots document his best work from different studios, different periods of time, and different processes he used during those years.

Jug Redemption

Michael Kline

Not counting my chickens yet, but I'm happy with these handles and especially happy that these have made it this far. I hope Tom, my handle critic, likes these.

I'm painting pots, but don't have any pictures for you yet. Hopefully later.

Tom Turner: Part 2: Salt Glazed

Michael Kline

If I had taken more notes and been a better student I could then pass on more information to you about the pots in this post. But as it stands, it's been over a week since I visited Tom and looked at these pots and I didn't have my notebook with me.

One important thing that happens, though, when handling pots or objects of any kind is a sort of downloading of non-verbal information. Textures, weights, shapes become internalized and this data is kept in hand memory and visual memory. We become scanners and cameras as we handle and turn these objects. You don't have to be a potter to do this. All of us handle hundreds of objects every day. Our relationship with any object is the product of these sensory interactions merging with our own needs and desires. We need a cup of tea or coffee, we desire that particular cup. The necessity of food and eating for survival is the primary job for which pottery exists, the culture of that pottery is lead by our desire for function and style. The available technology at any given time in history is the catalyst for expression in the art of the potter.

Although I don't consider myself a scientist, I am infinitely curious. This curiosity leads me to answer questions that I have in my work as a potter. As a contemporary potter I am fortunate to have examples of previous potter's research available in collections like Tom's, like the Mint Museum's, and others, like the Freer/Sackler. In any research discovery stands on the shoulders of the past. Unfortunately, a lot of what I do in the studio is redundant in the search for these answers.
I'm not sure, yet, how to minimize this. But continuing to study is crucial.
No matter if you are making pottery or sculpture, no matter if you are new to clay or a veteran, it is essential to the success of your work to know the history. We may be doomed to repeat the failures of the past, I know I have, but we can also enjoy the satisfaction of perpetuating good ideas and good forms with our work.
I meant to talk more specifically about the marks on some of these pots, but I've gone on a tangent. Last week, Tom and I were were looking at handles, their attachments, and capacity marks. These images show a few ways of marking and embellishing.

In the process of answering questions about these pots we learn about the needs and desires of the people who made them and the culture that surrounded them. In turn, we learn about our own needs and desires, both as potters and as people. Thanks Tom for sharing.

I'd better get myself in that studio and make some pots today! Thanks for indulging.

Tom showing proper form when holding an old pot

***Click here to see another Stedman/Seymour pot you might find very interesting. I can't imagine what it was for or how it might have been used. Maybe you have an idea?

Tom Turner: Part 1: China

Michael Kline

bowl from Lonquan, China with celadon glaze

Tom came back from his stay in Jingdezhen, China last month, but it was a busy time for me and I couldn't get over to see him and the pots and books he brought back until Monday. Tom's house is jammed packed with pots from all over and he's always getting new pots from his travels or from eBay. Here are just a few of the pots Tom brought back from China. I've already shared one with you all earlier today.

Brandon was right in his speedy blog comment. It is a sagger that got a little too hot. Although you can't see from that photo, the bottom of the sagger isn't flat, but is somewhat conical shaped. So the space around the pot was minimal both above and below. Here is a description from Wikipedia of sagger:
Saggars are boxlike containers made of high fire clay or specialized fireclay which are used to enclose pots needing special treatment in the kiln. The word "saggar" is thought to have come from the word "safeguard."[1] Historically, reusable saggars were used to protect or safeguard specialized glazes from open flame, smoke, gases and flying ash present in wood fired kilns. This technique was used to protect the surface of pottery in ancient China, Korea and Japan, and was popular in the industrial potteries of Great Britain. Saggars are still used for industrial ceramic production, shielding ware from variations in heat and kiln debris.
The next piece is curious in that is is considered a "disposable" container in China. It contained wine and these pots are very inexpensive to buy. Tom says that the factory claims to make 5000 a day! Look here to see a picture of a simple device they use at the factory to glaze the bottles quickly.
The next pot has a nice surprise for the beholder when they open it. Tom thinks it's a kind of cosmetic "kit". Discreet, delicate, and fits in your purse. Seems like I remember my mother having a jar with this shape that had a powder puff in it. I don't think it was ceramic, though. Mom if you're reading this...

Above Tom's fireplace I found this nice group of pots. From China on the left to Germany and then over to Japan for the figural pieces which I believe are Haniwa. I should have taken more notes so that I could tell you more about these pieces. Usually Tom doesn't leave comments! but maybe he'll chime in for the sake of accuracy (which he's really into, and good at) and set the record straight. I love the painting on the bottle on the left, the handles and lip of the solid black bottle, and the big dent in the jug. The jug has these subtle drippy/runny markings that you may pick up if you click on the image to enlarge. They're not just wine/food stains but are in the surface/salt glaze of the pot. Any ideas?
Tomorrow I'll continue with some 19th c stoneware in Tom's collection. The pots are from New England, New York, and Ohio and they're pretty cool. (if you're into old pots)

Here's a new feature for the blog, check out today's flashback post.

Better Quit My Ramblin' Ways

Michael Kline

Not a whole lot of dirt being spun these early days of 2010. Today was a sawdust day, indoors. I'm wrapping up my wood working projects and making room for clay mixing later this week. I put another coat of bright red paint on the girls new bookshelf and cut braces and bed frames for their loft bed.

I'm getting itchy for some clay work as the spring show and exhibit deadlines loom in the not so distant future. It's hard to think about Spring in this winter wonderland (more snow this morning!). But I was just talking to Robert up at the Builder's Supply and he was flipping through the calendar on the wall to March 14th, the day we spin the clocks forward! Alas, the wood pile are covered in snow and buckets sit just outside the shop frozen solid, and to get the pots to market for the NCECA conference shows and the Catawba Valley Pottery Show in March, I've got to get spinning, and SOON! As Gary would say, "Holy Cats!"

I had a great visit with Tom Turner, yesterday, at his place in Mars Hill. Tom went to Jingdezhen China in November and brought back lots of goodies that we went over before and after a deli lunch in town. I had the cheeseburger and Tom had the B B Q while we discussed the how we would rock the pottery world in the months to come!

After lunch we swung by to visit Matt K and Shoko T at their mountaintop retreat/pottery fiefdom. I'm glad I didn't try to drive the Soobie up that road. I think the grade was just shy of 45º. Shoko and Matt are getting ready for spring shows, too. We're going to both be showing with Ferrin Gallery at NCECA with a few other of the Ferrin stable of studio potters. Here's the ride down the mountain.

Anyway. What was I talking about? Oh yea, Matt and Shoko making pots in their mountain top in Marshal...Here are a couple of shots in their studio of some pots Matt is making for Shoko to decorate.

And here is what keeps there shop so cozy on their windy mountain top.

Afterwards we stopped in on Alex "ain't gonna work on Hewitt's pottery farm no more" Matisse. He was doing some work on the homestead and getting ready to build a kiln shed. No pictures from that visit although we did see some fine pottery on display in his old farmhouse. Maybe I'll get back over there to help raise a post or a beam on that kiln shack he's gonna build and I'll bring my good camera.

Well, this blog has rambled on just like my day in Madison County. Tom's pots will have to wait till I get some more of my wood working done tonight. But I have some cool stuff to show you from Tom's collection of Ohio and Connecticut stoneware as well as his Chinese pots! Check back!

Thanks for reading.

After Supper Pots

Michael Kline

[It's been a week since I predicted to Stacey that our 7 year old eMac would probably bite the dust, but here we are plugging away, albeit, slower than Christmas, a week later and the hard drive still making a squealing noise that makes the neighborhood hounds howl.]

In the shop tonight:

It was a scholarship night! I've been wanting to do some chicken watering pots for a while now, even before we had chickens, because there are such curious forms. After seeing Tom Turner's show at the Blue Spiral in Asheville, I was also struck by his almost closed forms and how they had a premium on surface. A closed form is all surface! So with the planets aligned and I went for it and failed a few times but hung in there. After a few hours I had a few "poultry fountains". Some of the smaller prototypes are based on some that I saw in the Isaac Button video and in books. I just guessed at how they might be made and went for it with marginal success. Some of the smaller jars are thrown and closed, then the "mouth" is cut and the jar pushed in to make room for the fowl to get their heads in their to drink. The taller forms will be accompanied by a saucer and will have a little hole (about an inch and a half in diameter) cut out at their base.
The water stays in the jar after it has been filled and turned right side up. The ledge of the the mouth or the saucer is slightly higher than the opening in the jar and the majority of the water is held inside the jar by gravity. When the birds drink the water out of the mouth of the jar or the saucer more water is released from the jar to maintain the level of water. I hope this makes sense. More on how this actually works ATF (after the firing), when I actually will be testing my results. Also, I will try to post more images of historical pots like the ones I am mimicking.
Also on the table tonight were some 8 # bowls that I threw earlier in the day and more of the mini-latte bowls.

It's late. More tomorrow.

Tom's Find

Michael Kline

I mentioned Tom Turner and his new pot from Japan yesterday and wanted to bring some context to the examples I showed during my painting session last night. Here is a pic of the bowl/platter . It's a very interesting format and one that is fairly common in books about Japanese pottery. There you go.

FYI: my batteries are dead in my camera and I will get good pictures of the painted pots as soon as I replace the AA's.

Jug Handles

Michael Kline

I followed some advice that Tom Turner gave me concerning my jug handles. [not without some hemming and hawing, though] and I think he was right to say that my handles are to small, which I interpreted as too strappy. The handle on the right is a strappy handle and the one on the left is rounder in cross section. I, myself, like the one on the left. Which one do you favor? These are pretty big pots. The one on the right is about 3 gallons and the left is about 2. So just from that info, with water weighing about 8 lbs/ gallon, the handle has got to be stout. But that's all I'll say. What do you say?

P.S. Tom, how'd I do?

Have a good weekend all!


Michael Kline

This morning, after some discussion, I decided to start a project that wasn't on my list this week, It's probably on some long lost list somewhere from years ago. Let me explain...Maybe a year ago I ripped a wall down in our bedroom and put new drywall in its place. In the process I took the door and the trim out. Since then, (it may have been two years???) we haven't had a door on our bedroom. Today was the day to start back on this long overdo project. Of course, being me, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to enjoy the use of my Dad's old hand plane (technically, it's called a "jack plane") and thus prolonging the experience and the project.


It was such a balmy 45*F that I thought it would be great to distract myself outside(again). Here is a shot of the first hand planed board I worked on this morning. I may do a little carving on it as well. (I hope Stacey doesn't read this for a few days!) Maybe it's selfish of me to involve myself in such an experience, but I can't help myself. I love doing it. Isn't that the point of working? Shouldn't it be? Yes and but who's going to be able to pay me for hand made pottery these days, much less a hand planed board??!! Don't get me started on the impending doom!

Back to my pottery reality this afternoon as I am going to get back to some clay work. Reclaimed red dirt is ready for me and as is Tom's porcelain. Which way do I jump? We'll see...hehehe.

P.S. Check out Doug Fitch who has just opened up his kiln full of beautifully warm earthenware!

Looking Into The Coming Week

Michael Kline

It was a great day
working outside on the new shop with Buck.
We punched out a few details, windows in tool shed,
steps into studio, siding.
Thanks for all of you who have stepped up to vote
on the cups I will send tomorrow to AKAR.
If you haven't yet, see previous post and send in your vote!

I have reclaimed clay that was sitting outside and
frozen and will be throwing more pots this week.

I also have some porcelain courtesy of Tom Turner to play with.
When the power is finally turned on at the shop, I will celebrate with a cone 6 porcelain glaze firing in the old L & L electric kiln. (something I've been thinking about doing for a while)
I'll keep you posted, of course!


Michael Kline

For those of you without laptops or with very stiff necks, here is Tom Turner's fine mug in it's correct orientation. It wasn't an anti-gravity mug after all! While at Tom's yesterday I spotted these other pots.

This little group of pots sits by Tom's ding room table. Can you guess which one of these pots was not made in the USA?

Tom posing in front of one of his "American Onggi".

Tom insisted on me posing with the jar to give you a better sense of scale. If these jars could talk...well, maybe Tom can tell the story one day.

"Skipping School"

Michael Kline

Just like a bunch of high school boys skipping school, Tom, Matt and I were out driving all over Madison and Buncombe County while all the other potters were diligently working away in their studios. Instead of drinking cheap beer, doing donuts in gravel parking lots, and getting into trouble we were looking at old pots. Ah, times have changed. It was a perfect day and I thought I would share a few pictures of our travels. I took these pictures with my phone, I apologize for the sub par quality.

Matt and Tom posing in front of some really
awesome pots at an undisclosed auction house

a detail of a rifle stock
with a stem/leaf element

a nice slip trailed flower

a nice slip trailed rabbit
from the same lot

a group of pots
in Tom's dining room
a very nice 2

Tom also took us over to see the location of the old Reems Creek Pottery that was run by George Donkel. We saw the pottery site and the beautiful two story house he lived in. I didn't take any pictures but found this interesting picture courtesy of Google books.

Well that all for now. It's late and it's time for for some much needed rest. After all, I have to go back to work tomorrow!