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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.

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The Best of Sawdust and Dirt

A record of the goings on around Michael Kline Pottery!

Filtering by Tag: capping

Capping and Throwing a Big Jar

Michael Kline

Today I made jugs. (or maybe you call them bottles?)

Anyway, it made me think of one of my favorite posts from the early blog days of 2007. I still make pots in the same way, except the cordless headphones are long since gone and I don’t have the ball opener installed (yet). ;-) [See original post here.]

Enjoy. If you have questions or comments, leave a comment, below. ;-) I would love to answer them!

thanks, Michael

Here are the tools on my bench...

Centering about 8 lbs of home clay

Opening the bottom with a ball opener/bottom maker.

Here I open the bottom of the pot with ball opener in my left hand and sponge in my right hand. I forgot to take off my geeky wireless headphones for the photo shoot!?#@!

I am measuring the bottom section to match it to the previously thrown cap. I usually throw the cap ever so slightly smaller than the bottom section.

Here I am adding the "cap" that I actually made before I threw the bottom section. I measured the cap before I took it off the wheel with my calipers, then set it aside. The cap is slightly smaller than the bottom section. One advantage to capping is that the clay is still wet and can still be stretched and thrown. The other advantage is that the torque in the clay, or the throwing lines are in the same direction in both sections.

The two sections are "welded" together. With my left(inside) hand I move at the same time as the right (outside) hand and in the opposite direction.

Then I make the opposite move with the weld. This "cancels out" the marks so that when the pot is turned you don't get caught in the ruts of any makes you have made.

The section is ribbed and thrown.

After the sections are thrown together and consistent, the rim is measured for the next cap.

A new cap is thrown. The cap has no bottom and the ball opener rides on the wheel head.

Measuring the cap. Throw the cap wider at the base then you think you may need. Its always easier to narrow than widen. When I cut the cap off, and set aside I always make the table wet so the cap doesn't stick to the table when I need to lift and put into place later.

The cap is set in place. I really don't score the sections, but I make sure that the section below is scraped of slurry.

The second cap is thrown into place and the rim is set.

The whole pot is ribbed and thrown into shape. At some point I rib from the inside only , but I find that the "line" of the pot looks stronger if you can thrown the shape in rather than just ribbing it. I didn't photograph the 5 inch stand that I have to get up on while doing these final reaches for the bottom. Also either roll your sleeves up or wear a cut off shirt and mind your apron. These can snag your pot and ruin it.

Here we see our geeky potter hamming it up after the work is done. Handles will go on the jar in the morning.

Tech Talk: Short Clay, Big Jars

Michael Kline


The clay I use is a little bit short.


To counter the openess of the clay I turn the pot in the opposite
direction a few turns to "close" it up.


The flakiness near the bottom is from over drying with my torch and also shortness of clay, but it's a nice texture. After more ribbing, though, it goes away.

From last night. These jars range from 15-18 lbs. (6.8-8.2kg) in clay. Thrown in two sections using caps. I'm going to make a few more of these today. I need to fill a kiln up!

Friday Evening

Michael Kline


Seems like the night time is the right time to get things done. After supper I made the walk up hill to the shop for some Friday night pottery fun. The afternoon was spent with visitors, bisqueware shuffling, and cleaning up. I wanted to make pitchers but ended up working on some vases/bottles. I've wanted to make these for a long time and struggled getting the technique figured out. After several that ended up in the bin, I got a few that I kept. The first ones were made by adding a coil to the top and throwing that into a neck, but it was hard to figure the proportions, (mostly my coil and throwing technique sucked!) The neck would kink and get off center from uneven coiling, etc. So what I decided to do was use the capping technique and threw the neck separately and that seemed to be a much easier approach. It's been a long time since I made of these forms, (probably early nineties)and I'm looking forward to playing around with the handles. Maybe they don't need handles? Your suggestions are welcome.

A Pitcher

Michael Kline


a separate "cap" is thrown and attached to the neck


the cap after throwing onto the neck


the spout after ribbing the neck with a wooden tool.


Here is one of the more successful pitchers of the day. Maybe because I was taking pictures of it as I made it? Hmmm. The neck is an area of this pot that's hard for me to get right. So, instead of fighting it, I have been throwing a little cap that gets attached to the neck, giving more room for the handle to be attached later.

Thought you'd like to follow this one through the making, painting, firing. I'll try to keep it in your lens. Dinnertime!