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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: bisque ware

Pots & Chores

Michael Kline

I finally finished my pots yesterday after slacking with other things and I needed a little warm up to my brushwork ahead and
painted a bunch of invitations to the studio tour coming up on December 3, 4, 5! Are you on my mailing list? [sign up here]

I also cut some wood that is too big/wide to stoke in the wood kiln, but makes nice heat for the house and studio. Nothing is wasted here! Unfortunately this makes for a lot of various pile of wood around the kiln yard. But I developed a pretty quick way of cutting and stacking.

I'll be deco-rotating the pots for the next few day until I haul them over the hill to load with Courtney next week. I will send images of some of the motifs that emerge from the session.
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Have a great weekend.

A Slow Start

Michael Kline

As promised, a few pots that I painted last night. Ila stopped in to glaze her pots before heading home for the holiday. I had another visit from Courtney and John on the way home from Asheville, bearing bags of clay and a fresh gallon of wax from the supplier!!

After setting up the painting station, I sat down to wake up the brushes and get some wax on these pots. The greenish painting is food coloring in my wax so that I can see where I've painted. I've found it easier to paint pattern when I can see what I'm doing and on the RJB (white slip) it's hard to see w/o a little green food coloring.

Waxing Moon, Waxing Pots

Michael Kline

My late night java connection yielded some pretty good results. A lot of what I painted was white slip-wax resist-white slip, otherwise known around here as "white on white" (as in the cylinder on the left). The cylinder on the right utilizes regular wax in addition to my special black wax.

Fired bisque number 5 with some big bowls. To save space I stacked the bowls with ceramic fiber as a cushion. Years ago, Mark Shapiro and I had heard of someone using this technique in bisque firing and stacking bowls. I tend to get weird cracks if I stack big bowls without the wool. I'm not sure of the original source of this technique, but thank you, whoever you are!

Here are some other top secret techniques used today. When I cut the rims of these small plates, it leaves a burr along the edge of the cut. Just before bisquing, I "scrub" the burr down with a green pot scrubber. The green scrubbie is just rough enough to take the burr down without changing the edge too much. It doesn't lift out sand or coarse particles like sand paper might. Well, this process leaves the pot dusty. After the bisque firing. I rinse the plates off in a bucket of clean water. Here is a solution to soaking wet pots preparing them for some slip dipping. The wood stove was warm so I set the plates on the rack to dry.

No secret associated with the two little hollow rim bowls below. Just liked them.

Wednesday will be a big painting day now that I'm warmed up. I'll do some Chin Dynasty
Tz'u Chou peonies and even some birds! I want to do a video of my brushwork technique, so maybe check back for that, too.

Big Rain and the Hatch

Michael Kline

Had a nice conversation with Alex tonight about those wall pockets. It was good to hear he was tying flies in hopes for some fishing here in the hills sometime soon. Meanwhile outside there was a lot of rain as I hustled jars that had been sitting outside under the roof to catch a breeze and be dry for the big kiln loading. With the rain came some big hatch of teeny little flies that were sneaking in through the open door and hovering near the lights! I'll save a few for Alex.

I didn't follow my boss's advice to start painting today, and instead, continued to throw a few more large platters. I lost a couple in the bisque kiln and thought it would be worth squeezing in. The cracked platters had been stacked with sand in between and had little hairline cracks. Damn!

I worked on cleaning up the wall pockets and cutting holes in the backs. I first took a fettlin' knife to the edges and them smoothed them with a chamois. When I came in this morning several had cracked from being too wet from the throwing and then being closed in the throwing. Alex says that he thoroughly dries the interior before he closes the forms. That should do it for me. My red dirt is really prone to cracking in its wet state. So I spent some time repairing the cracked ones and had an idea to try to "dart" some in the future. One of the intriguing changes that happen when one flattens a thrown form is how that form changes. Exciting, huh? Welcome to my world of pottery intrigue!

Anyway, I shuffled and organized the bisque ware and pots still needing to be. It's becoming clear that there won't be time or room in my electric kiln to bisque everything, so the last few pots will be raw glazed, bone dry glazed.

The punch list is bigger than I thought and I'll start hitting it in the a.m.

So long for now.

#13 Loaded and Switched On

Michael Kline

12 down and 1 to go

I usually fire about ten bisque kilns to fill the wood kiln with pots. So I guess it will be a full load. Good to know. I need the pots! Wrapping up the painting for a full day of glazing tomorrow! Of course there will be more painting news to report later tonight. I hope I'm not wearing you all out.

Are you still with me?

Another Bisque Note

Michael Kline

I wanted to put this in the blog so that I would remember...instead of unloading this pot and thinking, "what the hell is that little black blob on the glaze!??"

This cup has been painted and glazed. After that, I brushed some wax resist over the glaze and then cut through with a sharp little bitty trimming tool (that Becky Lloyd had given me a while back). Then I brushed some black slip over the cut through design of forlorn birdy. I'm curious if the slip will "float" in the glaze surface or fade into the under glaze.

[FIRING NOTE: The kiln may need a new coil or two as it's struggling to get to temperature. I have put some fiber on the lid to help it along. After all, it is 12 years old! It could be a long night of "stoking"]

More Painted Porcelain Pots for the E Kiln

Michael Kline


a more typical design motif by Moi
(that's french for mwaah)

Here are a few more plates that are in the electric kiln today! The white slip is barely visible in these pictures. Click on the pictures to enlarge them. You will be able to see the designs more clearly. I had a couple of these plates crack pretty badly during the bisque. Maybe they dried too fast? I don't know, but they both cracked at a sharp cut in the rim. Typical, even though I cut the foot ring first before compromising the rim by cutting it.

the designs will hopefully be more
apparent after the glaze firing.

I'm heading up to Penland to do painting a demo for Shane Mickey's class. They just built a new soda kiln and will unload it tomorrow and fire again on Thursday! They need some brush-learnin'.

Decorating and Glazing The Porcelain

Michael Kline

porcelain cups painted with
black and white slips

I spent a few hours last night decorating/painting the porcelain I had just bisque fired (to cone 07). I am firing these pots in the electric kiln to cone 9! I'm not sure what they will look like, I did a lot of guessing. My basic strategy evolved as I went along. First, I wanted to use the amber and copper glazes with black and white slips/under glazes. One of my immediate reactions was to the whiteness of the surface. I recalled a conversation I had with an App. State student I had interviewed earlier in the day about the blank canvas. I told him that when I draw I could only begin after I had smeared charcoal over the whole surface. There's something about process and about self consciousness that made me feel uncomfortable with the blank clean paper or canvas. I had the same feeling with the clean white surface of the porcelain. So I began most of the cups with a wash of black under glaze. Sometimes I would use a sponge to smear the under glaze on the surface. I did this with some of the insides of the cups as well. Then I went in with the brushes and painted some crisp clean marks of vines and such as I am accustomed to do. I went back and forth with the black and the white slips, not sure which will dominate under the glazes. My big fear is that the designs will be too stark and lack the variation that I get in the wood kiln.

Some dots that have been smeared in several directions.
Whether or not the "tails" will remain after
the firing is anyone's guess. We'll see!


Michael Kline

stackin'em up

I need shelves!!

There's something about running out of room and needing to fire the bisque kiln that makes me get real going(for a change) in the shop. I start getting more ideas about pots I want to make and need to make. Maybe it has something to do with the intrinsic properties of the bisque. We used to joke about the 'beauty' of the bisque firing! Oh, what a happy destination of pink loveliness. So much more appealing than it's drab beige beginnings. Ummm, not...
In the past I have raw glazed, and now do some bone dry glazing, but for the most part "I bisque most everything. It's generally easier for me to handle while I paint it and I handle it a lot while I'm painting.


Michael Kline

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as 'they' say, and I must say that this was one of the most beautiful bisque firings we've had in a while. Or maybe it's one of the only bisque firings we've had in a while, or maybe it's been a while since 'we' had a bisque firing, or maybe something funny was in the biscuit I ate this morning, or maybe there was something funny in that stuff 'they' call coffee at Hardee's of Spruce Pine...Here is a picture of some of the results, before they get all mucked up with painting, glazes and such. Ah.....innocence!

First Firing?

Michael Kline

Loading a bisque kiln (still on my front porch) today. I thought about loading all the greenware onto the tobboggan and riding'em down hill, well....better not. It's time to "put childish things things away". Besides I need those precious few pots for the "You Know Me" Show.

Now I must thaw out the glazes and get ready for the paintin' and glazin'. Then I'll run'em up the road to Courtney's wood kiln to load'em!

Porch Kiln

Michael Kline

Micah and I installed the ol' L & L kiln on the front porch of the house a couple of days ago and I fired it off for the first time without a hitch. It's a long story, but basically I had to fire it on medium high since it's on a 40 Amp breaker and draws 44 A on high. It was a lot of hassle to put the kiln there but better than depending on my potter neighbors to bisque fire again. No problems!