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Use the form on the right to contact Michael Kline!

192 Jim Boone Rd
Bakersville, NC, 28705
United States

828-675-4097

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: blogging

to blog or not to blog

Michael Kline

Hi everyone. 

I really love to write. I do! For several years I stretched my mind and crafted words to express and translate what was in my head and what was happening in the studio.

blogging in Petaluma with a  Perry Haas  mug

blogging in Petaluma with a Perry Haas mug

But I don’t make the time to write these days,  aside from captions for social media posts on my Instagram and Facebook pages. So, I will give it a go and take the time to write and keep a studio journal here in the long form blog varietal.  (little voices in my head battle out with “just write, fool!” and “but what if it’s lame?” lol)

are you tired of algorithms? Do you have time to read something longer than a caption? Maybe Instagram and Facebook are enough?

I will try to write at least once a week about what I’m thinking about and doing in the studio and beyond. a fresh start.

Please let me know what you think in a comment below.

OK. Thanks!



 

Made with Care

Michael Kline


I promised myself not to make excuses for my 12x12 tardiness, because your time is valuable to me, but it has spurred some thoughts.

Time is our most precious commodities as creative people. It takes time to make our stuff. Yet time is something I give freely when asked. Whether it is an unannounced visitor to the shop, or email inquiry from a student, or a call from my daughter’s school, I most always stop what I’m doing and attend to these interruptions. I care, right? [I write, right?]

But what happens to my 12x12 rule, then? My commitment to making those 12 pots? Coming up short isn’t necessarily an epic fail. It’s a fail, for sure, but at the core of the rule is that I try. A good friend of mine once advised me as I was faced with a daunting task to just make it look as though someone cares. That thought has stayed with me many years. His idea was a kind of permission, a pressure valve, a prayer from judgment. It’s a concept that keeps us from the brink of giving up, of losing hope.

At the core, 12 x 12 is a motivation, an inspiration, to get our hands on our stuff, to make something. It’s a coach, it coaxes us to just do it . It’s the hope of a small goal leading to a large goal, which is, after all,  the important stuff, the stuff that might seem daunting by itself.

Years ago, my mother-in-law, Jackie, jokingly posed the question, “how do you eat an elephant?”

You might have heard this, before?

Her answer, after my dumbfounded expression and pause was, “One bite at a time.” [canned drum roll and apologies to all animal lovers, elephant lovers, vegetarians, vegans, et. al]

The point is, that by giving some kind of effort, things do get done. They may not always get done in a timely fashion, like high noon, but hopefully something comes out of trying. I tried to write 500 words a day back in January and was able to realize that a week was about as long as I could keep going, but it was a construct to led to really a meaningful experience for me.

As creative people we notice stuff, about the world around us and within ourselves because when we do, when we make stuff, it gives us satisfaction. Maybe joy? It gives us a footing in the world, it’s grounding.

Whether these objects embody that joy that comes from making is hard to know, but the important thing is that we care and we try. No judgement, no critique.

SO haters gonna hate, Time and attention police may scorn as there look at the time stamp on this picture, but here is my effort from this morning, All 13 made before and after 12 noon as several hurdles were thrown in their way. But those hurdles will be long forgotten in the hours, days, and weeks from now when these pots come out of a kiln and the pots succeed or fail in a far more important way.

I guess that’s my excuse, anyway.

[your thoughts are kindly welcome and sometimes needed. they motivate.]

Thanks for reading.

Upworthy

Michael Kline


Re-entry to my chilly mountain life after a week in Florida has been the normal treacherous segueway that it usually is. The charmed perspective that travel gives is a direct result of the lack of the routine and the responsibilities one leaves behind. But now that I am back the "chickens have come home to roost."

I'm juggling these chickens and, at the same time, organizing the ideas and awesome experiences from the Florida Heat Surface Conference so that I can present them here. But that will have to wait, maybe another day as life gets in the way. But it's great to be back in the bosom of our little house here on Snow Creek Road.

In the meantime, I thought it would be a good time to plug 2 of my favorite potter bloggers. Check these posts out when you can. I love that Scott and Carter dive deep into the writing and share the many trials and tribulations of pottery making. Their writings make our world a little smaller and help us realize the common threads that connect us as makers.

Scott Cooper's "Dr. Strangethrow, Or: How I learned to stop sitting and love the Brent"

Carter Gillies's "Teaching Fail"

In The Beginning: Some Pottery Bloggery Firsts

Michael Kline

Feeling nostalgic after yesterday's blogiversary, I put this list together during my lunch break. It contains the blog posts from some of the early pottery blogs that I followed back in the early days and some that jumped on the blog-wagon in the years to follow. I couldn't find some blogs as they seem to have been discontinued and/or have been taken over by robots selling septic tanks and viagra. I'm sure I left some out, but if you can think of someone I forgot or am leaving out please leave that in a comment. I want to use this list in my NCECA talk. Thanks!

So here you go on your trip down memory lane!

Click on the potter's name to go to that post. The list is in order of the date of the first post.

Scott Cooper: Rare Earth March 6, 2001
Emily Murphy/Pottery Blog July 19, 2004
Ron Philbeck/Potter's Journal September 8, 2005
Judi Tavill October 1, 2005
Mary Anne Davis January 5, 2006
Anne Webb January 21, 2006
Jennifer Mecca April 6, 2006
Cynthia Guajardo April 28, 2006
Shannon Garson/Strange Fragments May 12, 2006
Diana Fayt/one black bird May 31, 2006
Gary Rith August 20, 2006
Whitney Smith/An Artist's Life October 3, 2006
Mel Robson/Feffakookan December 6, 2006
Rae Dunn December 21, 2006
Euan Craig January 24, 2007
Jeanette Manchester Harris January 27, 2007
Michael Kline February 6, 2007
Brandon Phillips February 16, 2007
Carole Epp April 15, 2007
Vicki Gill April 18, 2007
Christa Assad May 21, 2007
Scott Cooper: TW@SE June 10, 2007
Shane Mickey July 29, 2007
Kari Radasch August 6, 2007
Tony Clennell August 10, 2007
Elaine Spallone August 28, 2007
Joe Bennion Oct 15, 2007**
Ang Walford November 3, 2007
Lori Watts/Fine Mess December 8, 2007
Hannah McAndrew January 10, 2008
Margaret Brampton January 19, 2008
Kyle Houser/Homefry Sketchbook January 27, 2008
Doug Fitch January 29, 2008*
Paul Jessop February 7, 2008
Kristen Kieffer March 11, 2008
Keith Kreeger April 20, 2008
Tracey Broome May 5, 2008
Dan Finnegan May 28, 2008
Meredith Haywood/Whynot Pottery May 29, 2008
John Britt/Clay Club June 4, 2008
Bulldog Pottery June 6, 2008
Priscilla Mouritzen July 7, 2008
Hollis Engley August 15, 2008
Zygote Blum September 7, 2008
Michael Mahan September 18, 2008
Steven Colby October 18, 2008
Jim Gottuso/Sophia's Dad's Pots February 2, 2009

*(Doug's first blog appeared much earlier than this, but the archive of that web site doesn't exist, so this is the date of his second blog)

**(this is Joe's second blog, his first was eaten by an evil cyber nerd)

7 Year Itch

Michael Kline

what the blog looked like in 2008 (courtesy of Rosti Eismont of The Studio Potter!)
Today is the anniversary/birthday of ye olde Sawdust and Dirt blog! My first blog post was 2/6/2007! You can read that first post here.

And my my! How times have changed!

But back in the day there weren't many potters taking the time to journal about their pottery, potters were late bloomers to the technology. I remember the excitement of reading Ron's adventures, which was a portal into an unseen world of pottery bloggery leading me to potters all over the place! But after a short while it seemed that the potter bloggery was all the rage! [Wasn't it? ;-)]

early blogroll screen shot

While there was scattered contempt in our field of the early adoption by potter bloggers, these early blogs opened the many doors and windows into the potter's work to the pottery community at large. As we became comfortable with the  technology of sharing through the blog, the community expanded with  the likes [no pun intended] of Facebook and later Instagram (among others) as that online community grew worldwide. Although joining the world of FB was slow in our field in those early days it eventually became a huge presence in our lives. and how we keep up with each other.

Because of the Facebook explosion and it's ever increasing community and functionality, my blogging slowed down and eventually I gave it up for a short time. FB just seemed to be easier and the I tried to reach a slightly wider audience of not only potters, but collectors as well. Eventually I came back to the blog because it was a more appropriate format for me to dive deeper into ideas. Besides, it was a better archive and easier to search.

Blogging is still, for me, a better format for writing, while Instagram and it's parent, Facebook are better visual storytelling. Today I maintain a Facebook presence, an Instagram stream, AND try to write on this blog occasionally. Although these communities sometimes seem like a hall of mirrors,  there are still folks who haven't adopted FB and IG, or have tried and dropped it.

Well, I'd love to write more about this subject, but my Shimpo Scream awaits me. I will be speaking at NCECA about social media next month and will be sharing more thoughts on where all of this is going for me, personally.

So for now, I wanted to thank all of you who read this blog and have supported me over the years. I especially want to thank Ron, Shane, Emily, Doug, Hannah, and all the others who inspired me to take the time to start a blog.

As the times and the technology changes, I think we will always have a hunger to be better at what we do and I think by taking the time to share what we do in whatever ways we can with each other, satisfies that hunger and helps to make our ceramic culture the best it can be.

And of course, thanks to all 577, 039 visitors to the blog (to date so far). Without your support I probably wouldn't be here today.

Onward!

the timelessness of night

Michael Kline

OK.

 The thaw is happening, I think. During the #hunkerdownbythewoodstovepolarvortex the kids got home schooled and I beat a path from wood stove to wood stove, studio and house, respectfully. I also checked water pipes, chickens, road conditions, email, calendar. Seems like I would have had plenty of time to make pots, to get that studio hoed out and crystallize my vision for a bump free flow.

[insert perplexed, vexed, and cross-eyed emoticon]

On the heels of my declaration of a 500 word guarantee here on ye olde blogge, I stood there like a deer in the headlights of the big brain freeze, mental frostbite. So, just as one rubs hands to create friction, thus heat, thus thawing, I will try to rub some brain cells together and make a clickity clackity sound with this keyboard to illustrate a few "thaw-ts".

So, here we go. [pause, deep breath, now go!]

Something interesting happened at the wheel the other night. Yes, I did say night. That time of my day when it is quiet and all are asleep, except for me. The darkness of night has a timelessness that, MS and I used to jokingly referred to as "3 o'clock in the morning". Timelessness in the sense that the darkness (outside) is not specific, compared to the light of the sun, glaring morning light through to pink o'clock, then dark.


Unable to train my thoughts on much through my day, I was able to sequester and focus on the pots later that night. With headphones on, some music playing in my head, I was able to get some pots made. Some really great pots, IMHO. I know what you might be saying. "This guys has some kind of mental problem, either distraction, or maybe something worse!" Could it be that I go through a brief period of ADD or PTSD before the highly prized momentum flows? I'm sure someone more qualified than I can diagnose what potters, like moi, might be experiencing.

[note to self: don't stray, get to the point]

Oh, right. I do want to share something other than a pathology of distraction with you.

So, I've heard potters speak about the wheel as their sketchbook and I would say, yes! It's the only way I can "draw" pots. Some potters are very good at portraying pottery in 2 dimensions, I applaud them and I think that a 2D sketchbook is a must, but in reality I don't draw pots in mine. I use my sketchbook to work on patterns and loosen up my "brush-mind" (I'm about the start a new one that Stacey gave me! A beautiful new sketchbook (made by John Hartom) for Christmas!) So, yes, put me in that group who think that the wheel is a better sketchbook for pots. Ha! Maybe our wheels are the original 3d printers!

In the past I have certainly played around with this notion of the wheel as sketchbook. Throwing a series of pots can result in a board of pots all the same or all different, depending on one's intentions AND skills. I've written about the impact that first pot can have on the rest of the pots and how there is redemption in a series of the same.



The other night I had a bit of fun chasing down something that happened unexpectedly. Rather, maybe it happened from some sort of prodding by my sub conscience?(the best kind of prodding?) Maybe I was bored with the way I usually make swirl ware and that boredom exerted itself and prompted me to take a risk, after all, it's just clay, as Cynthia Bringle would say. But I tend to think, or better yet, obsess, of the times that I have failed when I take a chance.

I never think of those momentous times when my whole body of work has shifted because of something I tried that was out of the ordinary. Hmmm, more psychological evidence of pathology...But why are we afraid of risk if the outcome of something wonderful, something truly personal, and new can come of it?

Most people would probably say that pottery is a pretty safe business. But think of the speculation, the risks that a potter makes/takes when submitting our pots to the kiln?! Not to be too melodramatic, but, instead, to make the point that potters aren't to blame for playing it safe because of this looming risk of the kiln, but does playing it safe promote healthy living pots?

[OK, now I've done it. Which rabbit hole should I take?]




Let me reel (real?) myself in just a bit. Which risks do I decide to take, which sleeping dogs do I let lie? We can't always work at the edge. We can't always run at full clip. Pace is everything. Change is slow, Just ask Carl Sagan. But when we, as potters, are ready for change, we make it happen, perhaps prompted by a kind of boredom, perhaps triggered by our sub conscience.

So I guess I was ready to insert the wrench into the way I make my swirl ware. It wasn't something I put on my to do list that night. It was something that happened spontaneously. Maybe this emerged from the noise of the day, from the "urgency" of the day, or maybe from the desire to see something different.

This new "twist" on my technique was kind of thrilling. In this small way I am changed and I am motivated, jazzed, pumped up! The hexagonal wheel makes a light bump and down the road we go. It's an exciting thing when this happens in the shop. As potters, it is our challenge to make this happen, over and over again. Give life to the pots. Give our life to the pots. No pressure, as my friend Scott would say!


When we talk about giving life to our pots, what do we mean? When we talk about pots having something special, what do we mean? I guess we mean that something from our soul has somehow been transferred to the clay. Something that can't be written, something like a quality without a name. Maybe it's simply an excitement we feel when we are making . Maybe it's a kind of joy we are experiencing?

Hey, come on, it's just clay, right?

false start: apologies

Michael Kline

red dirt and stoneware blend

My goal today was to get just a few pots made, not EVEN 12x12, but all I managed to get was the temperature up in the shop, some warm water to throw with, and this pile of clay sorta blended.

Then my buzzer went off!

Does this ever happen to you?!

For those who are anxiously awaiting something more elaborate or, in my FB words, longform, I guess that will have to wait too.

My apologies. But thanks for coming around and checking.

A Year on Instagram

Michael Kline

My good friend and photographer extraordinaire, David Andrews, paid me the highest compliment by printing (on nice photo paper) 96 of his favorite pics from my 2013 IG catalog! I just put them on the wall of my showroom.

I love photography but I'm a far cry from David's talent, but I'm always looking and seeing through the lens. It's a great alternative perspective that I can carry around in my pocket.



Since 2011 I have posted 1519 pics on Instagram. I guess that's where I started slipping away from regular blogging, that, and maybe my frequent blogging on my FB page! Arrghhh,  the options are just too numerous. 



Well, I guess, like Ron, I want to carry on the blogging torch, but it's not so easy. Today's social media's plate is more like a blogging candelabra; split between, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, and sometimes, rarely, Google +.

But what's all of this have to do with making pottery? Really? 

Keep those wheels spinning, just don't get stuck in the mud.


Blog Rollin'

Michael Kline

Hi everyone,


It's a wet drippy Sunday here in the mountains of North Carolina, a perfect day to catch up on some pottery bloggery and some prog-rockery! Maybe you're doing the same thing? ;-)

I don't know about you, but I find and read blog updates using the blog roll here on sawdustanddirt.com and surf from here finding other blogs of interest along the way. Sometime I use Google Reader, but that's not so good, especially come July when it's being canned. On the iPad I like to use flipboard, a really awesome app that consolidates all kinds of content from RSS feeds (blogs and webpages I have subscribed to), to Facebook and  Twitter feeds. I subscribe to many blogs by email, too, and get daily, weekly updates. You can subscribe to this blog and recieve updates via email by plunking down your email address in the Feedburner block in the side column to the right or
subscribe to Sawdust/Dirt.com here.

But as much as I'd like to read everything, I'm afraid I don't and I start feeling guilty when the posts start piling up like so many New Yorker magazines on the bedside table. But if the blogging is awesome, I like to read.

Alas, I'm always looking to update the blog roll here awesome content and thought you might want to suggest some awesome blogs that you like reading or feel would be of interest to other sawdustanddirt.com readers.

If you have suggestions, won't you please leave a comment with a link to pottery/ceramic /art blogs you like? And if you are having trouble leaving comments, it happens,  could you e*mail them to me?

Thank You!

Today

Michael Kline

Dear {recipient},
It's a snow day here.

No snow here, but ice earlier this morning in the higher elevations of our county.

That means that nobody goes to school, even if us low lying valley folks have no winter hazards. Snow days wreak havoc on this potter. So Stacey and I have split the kids up and Evelyn will join me in the shop with a stack of books to read while I get to work this afternoon. I was hoping to get on with my 12 x 12, but instead have done chores, including the hunting down of Evelyn's flip video camera. I will be "shooting video" of some of the P's of the R tomorrow. The complete set of videos will be rolled out on the POTR Facebook page this Spring in advance of our exhibit at the Toe River Arts Council Gallery this August.

Today? Well I'll try make my plates before taking Lillian to guitar and hoops practice. (25 x 5?)

Thanks for the surge in readership this past week. I guess it helps to post regularly. I have all but vanished from Instagram, and am limiting my time at FB as well. There's only so much time for social networking.

Here is today's video from Chris Staley. I'm not sure if this video explicitly defined  "beauty" but I did like some of the suggestions (1:40) made by Chris's students.



My apologies for not having the time this morning to consider such meta-physics, but here is a post that isn't afraid to go closer to the metal.

I hope everyone is able to leave comments without any trouble. If you need help just drop me an email.


#1490

Michael Kline

Sorry to butt in on your day behind the keyboard,  and this is Not a real post, just an acknowledgement
of 6 years and 1489 posts at this here blog. Whether it is a worthwhile effort, only you can say.

Much has changed in the the last six years! This forum marches on, despite the many soldiers of the cause falling out for one reason or another. I'm reminded of seeing the "ClayArt" meeting room at a recent NCECA, and saying to myself, "ClayArt? Haven't they heard of the internet?"

ANd with that snarky thought,  there must be folks out there that grimace when they hear the word "blog". ("...hasn't he heard of Facebook?)

Is the pottery blog archaic? Have we become jaded from the ease of something like Facebook? No time to read blogs, just responding to the visual stimuli? I'm not sure if I have another 1500 posts in me, we'll see, I never thought I would ever get to this point in the first place! For those of you who missed it the first time, here is the inaugural post from Feb 6th, 2007.

OK, BTW!

I'm "finally" heading up to hill to continue making mugs for the Penland School Auction and more hanging with Scott.



Pottery Bloggery Meetup

Michael Kline

Hi everyone.

Yesterday I had a nice time visiting with Ron and Scott up at Penland.

about this high
Scott is on "sabbatical" here, making pots in the Penland Clay studio, Ron was up for the day to visit. Penland is that kind of place, a crossroads. Sometimes I am lucky to find myself there making friends, visiting friends, or peeking in to see what's going on in the studios.

scott's NC pots, from the small salt kiln at Penland

We talked about pottery, blogging, kilns,  and making a living.


What else is there?


Oh, glad you asked.
Well,  God and Art, of course!

Here's another potter on sabbatical, Chris Staley with his latest video.





ALSO: After talking with the blogger boys yesterday, I have decided to reinstate the comments on this here blog. If you have anything to say, let us have it! Don't be shy, just say Hi!

have a great Mardi!

Cossing Paths/Thinking and Seeing Out Loud

Michael Kline

I'm very curious, sometimes obsessed, with all of the ways we can share information these days. So much has changed in just the past 6 months, not to mention the last five years since I started this blog. Besides this blog, there's Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, Flickr, and Instagram, just to name the one's I employ when struck with the impulse to share a picture or a thought. For now, all roads seem to lead into the town square of Facebook, but I'm sure that will change as well. (does anyone remember AOL?) My internet personas are somehow connected like some Rube Goldberg contraption that most times just requires me to start the ball rolling on one of my devices which, in turn, sends it out to all of the "branches".

What's my point? I guess I'm trying to figure all of this out as much as anyone and wonder mostly whether this blog is still a vital organism. It seems heavy and sluggish. Writing takes time and who has any of that? Maybe it is much easier to shoot the camera and click than to sit here and blather on about I am thinking?  

Pictures are a must for the pottery bloggery, but words are still central to the task of understanding. 

[I think I just answered my own question. Thank you blog.]

OK, [sigh of relief] Now back to the important work of pottery!

Hay you!

Michael Kline

I just downloaded over a 1000 pictures off of the Nikon. If only I could download all of the stories that those pictures would tell. If there is inflation of the economic variety in story telling  then those pictures are worth a gazillion words. Don't they call that hype? Whatever, it's way more than I have time to recount here.

Summary: The roadtrip to and from Austin with Gwendolyn, pictures from Austin's Art of the Pot,  a visit with an old friend, his family, and his Texas mob, the beginnings of summer vacation with the gals, visits with pottery donors for the NCPC Annual Auction, garden pictures, pictures from Evelyn's play, not to mention Evelyn and Lillian's dance performance, a broken down car, a new van, Cousins in Clay with Ron and Judith, Bruce and Samantha, and our visit to Starworks Ceramics in Seagrove and Star, NC, more pictures of the kids and their friends over for a campout. Oh, and the pictures I promised from the last firing.

In a nutshell, that's what was on that 16 GB "roll of film".

When I sat down to click clack this post out on ye olde keyboard I was a little struck down by the weight of wanting to share all of those stories and feeling slightly lame for not being a better blogger/reporter this past month. But now I feel a little better with the summary. I never want to promise that I will write about all that someday and never do it, that's really lame.

Finally to what I wanted to write about in the first place, before the preamble ramble.  What I will share with you now is a bit of mower's pride.

It's what I call the "table" shot. You know the pic. The one of a potter's studio full of freshly made pots, (aka the 12 x 12 shot). But instead of rows of pots, I have windrows! I took these pictures immediately after finishing the the mowing spiral. The sun had just broken through dusky clouds. I couldn't quite capture the pride I had at the moment, but it's the kind of pride one has for overcoming technical, tactical, or physical shortcoming. Pride associated with taking something to the next level or sometimes just getting something/anything made or done! We all have our challenges, right?

So with the pride of a potter with a table of freshly turned potteries, here are a few pictures of last evenings mowings.




Like many a weekend warrior with a lawn, I enjoy getting out there and going 'round with the mower. AND I've been blessed with several acres of open meadow that surround the studio and the house. But only a very small portion around the house and the studio got mowed by moi. The rest was cut and hayed by neighbors. Actually, that weekend warrior part is a little inaccurate. I mow when I can and when I am busy with a firing, the grass can get pretty tall. Tall grass is hard to push a 3.5 hp Briggs and Stratton through, so last summer I taught myself to use a scythe. For those who follow me on Facebook, Instagram, etc. you no doubt, have seen me posing with my scythe or showing a newly mowed row of the field. Well, after many hours of online videos of people all around the world using scythes, I managed to learn how to use the one bequeathed to me by my scything patron, Kent McLaughlin. I had confessed my fascination for the scythe with him at a POTR meeting, and shortly after that he produced a fine Austrian-made "Amercian" (er, American, that is) scythe that I used all of last summer. It was pretty used up, but I managed to figure out how to use it and more importantly how to sharpen it!

It's probably too late to make a long story short, but that's the gist of it.
For this evening,  I have a few pots to decorate and glaze for Kyle's kiln.
Tomorrow, it's time to rake some hay. That is if the sun shines.

Spoiler: more scythe-talk may show up here on ye olde blogge! There's a lot of tall grass outside the studio! Consider yourself warned.

The Pottery Bloggery Eyes

Michael Kline


The potter blogger has different eyes. That is, the potter who writes, journals, blogs has different eyes. Since blogging offers all kinds of ways to share information about one's thoughts, various tools can be used, besides the written word. I started blogging in 2007(?) with the intention of polishing the words I use to describe this visual language of pottery I speak. At first I was pretty shy. But eventually my thoughts flowed a little easier. Yesterday's post woke me up to the fact that my writing and thinking brain had become pretty mushy from my six month sabbatical. But I will forge onward and try to be at least half as clear as John Bauman can be when he leaves his comments!

Back to the visual thing. Seeing is believing. Seeing depends on one's perceptions. How do you see the world, half full or half empty? Do you dream in black and white or in color? One of the first things I do when I walk through the door of my shop is to make sure I have the camera ready to go. Batteries charged, available memory in the card, tripod ready. The camera and the pictures I take have become an important way, or maybe another way, to "see" the pots, the studio, the things that I walk past in the field. I guess we all have blind spots. We choose what to see after years of practice of putting blinders on. The camera helps me overcome my blind spots. It also sees without prejudice. With its macro focus it helps me see things I can't really see with my naked eye.

As I began to keep this online journal to sharpen my writing skills, photography became an equally important way of expressing what I was seeing and thinking in the shop. So much so, that it was only after I had looked at the pictures of the day did a narrative for the blog emerge.
The photography fed the narrative of my studio life. For a while, you wouldn't see me without my camera. I was a pesky shutter bug wherever I went. Seeing through the lens of the camera became very important in how I saw everything around me. It gave a second opinion, like squinting does for most of us. The camera gave me a second perspective as standing back from one's work does after working with your head down.

During a firing, I keep a log. I usually record temperature, cones, damper settings, etc. but I'm not writing it down to remember later. I'm writing it'd own to remember it now! (I stole that line) I do refer back to the logs of past firings, but really what I'm doing is writing things down to map a course, to make changes, to affect the right changes in the firing. The blog and the pictures help me to affect a similar change in the work I make, or at least they have become such an influence by the vigilant writing of the blog. These effects of blogging weren't expected at the onset, but they have found their way into the work flow, just as the results of a firing enter into to my subconcious. Scott wrote eloquently about this phenomenon recently, here.

This is the critical role of my blog. It is a tool to pry open our eyes and our perceptions.

Next: Clay on your Hands

Pottery Bloggery Pt 1

Michael Kline



Recently a friend told me that she had just gotten back from a conference where everybody was telling her that she needed a blog! So she came to me asking whether she really needed a blog.

My answer in short was no.

I imagine that probably surprises a lot of you. (Maybe not, since I just enjoyed a 6 month sabbatical from blogging.) But here are some thoughts on being an artist and writing about it. (in no particular order)

Why blog?

There are several motivations for writing (and keeping) a blog. Self promotion seems to be a big one. Keeping a record or log of your thoughts/your work is a good one. Polishing writing skills was my motivation.

Self Promotion


I may be way off in saying this, but I don't think many of my customers/collectors/patrons read this blog. I'm certain that some do as they tell me at shows that they do. But I think it's a very small number. The community around any blog is the group of people who have something in common with the content of the blog.

For example, "Mom" blogs are very appealing to mothers who can share and commiserate with the blog author about being a Mom. There are so many Mom blogs that they even have subcategories, like "Craft Mom"! Now I'm sure some Dads follow Mom blogs, some may even have their own blogs about fathering. But based on the huge number of women who leave comments on the Mom blogs versus the number of men, I would guess that the readership is mostly women.

So it doesn't surprise me that most of the followers of this blog are makers, themselves, since most of my content is about making pots and most of the folks I hear from in the comments and through emails seem to be potters! I write about techniques, about firing the kiln, about the joys and tribulations of making pottery, not so much about buying or collecting pots and how great I am. After all self-promotion is really about laying on the hype, something I'm not so comfortable with. I guess I'd rather write about techniques and share my thoughts with other potters as I go about the studio.

I'm sure there is plenty of interesting "backstory" for any collector of my pottery, but I haven't heard from many of them here. Maybe it's all too esoteric. Maybe too boring. If you're out there, dear lover of Kline Pottery, please chime in with your experience! Let your loving voices be heard.

Meanwhile, I must get to the muddy work of pottery. Muddy hands and keyboards just don't mix. So until the next time I can squirrel away a few minutes to continue this thread of pottery-bloggery thought, I bid you a bright and productive winter's day!



Next: The Potter-Blogger's Eye

Processing the Process

Michael Kline

Everywhere I walk today is a now familiar squishing sound. The clay beneath my boots is saturated with the rain. On the hill and in the shallows behind my house, squish. I suppose it could be solidly frozen or covered with snow. That wouldn't be bad.

I've struggled and deleted a couple of drafts to this return to the blog. Soggy brain, I suppose.

As you might have guessed by some of the previous picture only posts, I have been looking at my pots thought the lens of my camera. Seeing the pots through the camera and the subsequent viewing on the desktop photo software give one a very different view of one's work. It takes the same rigor that one develops over the years to imagine the pots after we've treated them with slips, glazes and fire or heat. The ceramic process is somewhat of a dream that is usually idealistic and never incorporates the slightly uneven firing, or the glaze applied too thickly, or the number of things that can happen during a firing. Nor does this dream imagine the wonderful things that are somewhat mysterious and surprising about the process of finishing clay that renders it into a hardened ceramic pot.

But the perspective that the camera and the photo process give, help me to see the details of the pots that in a different way. Similar to the distance that time gives after a firing. The ceramic dream gets revised and the reality of the finished pots sinks in.

So, like Rip van Winkle, I slowly wake up from my long blog sleep and dream about the pots I will make in the coming weeks. The blog helps me to process the process and understand the results of the kiln. I look forward to sharing it all with you here. I hope you will come along with me.

Thanks for reading.

- Posted using BlogPress

Fare Thee Well

Michael Kline

Summer is here! The kid's last day of school is tomorrow and I'm making plans for the next Cousins in Clay event that will be here in the mountains in late August.


me, Peter Lenzo, Jack Troy, Samantha Hennekke, Bruce Gholson
in Seagrove for Cousins in Clay, 2011

The Cousins Seagrove event was awesome! Peter Lenzo and Jack Troy were our invited guests this year and it was truly a thrill to spend the weekend together. There was great conversation and storytelling throughout meals and in the evenings while we enjoyed the fireflies light show and tree frog's song.

But now there is pottery to make, and potatoes to hoe!

taters

But the news for today is that I've decided to put Sawdust and Dirt to rest for the time being. After the last cycle of work I've decided that so many things are being preempted to maintain the blog. I want to spend more time with the family and kick back every once in a while, and I have a lot of gardening to do. (I'm also putting together my scythe crew to mow my fields.)

That's not to say I won't be spending time behind the camera and the screen. I will be finally designing my web site and stocking my Etsy store. I will also try to send out frequent announcements and news from the studio to my email folks. Sign up if you'd like to be on the email list.

So, until the next one, have a great summer and stay in touch.

Thanks for reading!

Lillian in a jar