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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: choices

The Chosen Ones

Michael Kline

yunomi cups for AKAR Design annual yunomi show swirlware decorated pottery

Out of the 30 swirl cups that I fired last month in the wood kiln, these are the 5 i have chosen for the annual AKAR Design Yunomi Invitational [2014] [2013] [20??]. I wanted to choose a group that showed a variety of color, swirl, and brushwork.

The process is a curious one, that begins with an invitation to do a show along with some of the best potters in the country and challenges me to make cups that push my abilities and techniques into new areas. Curious because in the end you might say these cups look like the kind of cups that you might expect from me. And you would be partially right, I guess.

But, contrary to my last post, this palette and style is but a subtle variation and refinement, not the kind of obvious change I talked about the other day. Each firing there are a handful of pots that are unusual and maybe not what I expect. Then I try to reproduce their goodness, whatever it may be, often missing the mark or guessing wrong on the combination of variables that affect a pot in the wood kiln.

So, to get a group of pots for a show like the Yunomi show, I might need 30 to get 5 or 6 exceptional ones. It's a strategy or process of "make bunch and some might fly" that many a studio potter are grateful for and since it's fun to make a lot of pots, its a great way to work.

But the other thought I have, or the other question you might pose, is who am I to judge?

Everybody has different tastes, different needs. Some like their pasta soft and some like theirs al dente. But in the end, I guess someone has to throw it against the ceiling to see if it sticks. [ba dum tssshhh] and I guess that would be me. But in the end, or at the point of sale, you, O fair and trusted customer, are the final judge!

The AKAR Yunomi show opens on the morning of May 15th and a LOT of the pots sell in the first hour! My advice would be to be take the morning or the day off, bookmark the website and get a front row seat! You should also follow AKAR Design on the Facebook for some fun preview action!

Thanks so much for reading!!

Problem Solving

Michael Kline

After rewriting the XML code of my blog template, which took a considerable degree of problem solving I was faced with some pottery problems. The problem with this series of plates was the contrasting colors of clay on my trimming chuck. I trim the feet of these pots on a clay donut that is slightly larger in diameter than the plate or bowl I am trimming. This way I can quickly lift the pot and get a feel of it's trimmed weight and return it to continue if needed. This approach is usually pretty efficient. But with the white kaolin slip already on the pots and the red dirt clay as my chuck I was getting some smearing on the pots.

So I thought it would paint the chuck with the white kaolin slip and avoid the smearing. But since the slip is very fine grained and smooth, I lost the grip of the coarse red dirt clay. It actually was so slick that this plate slipped off the chuck and got some bad bruises!

I ended up going back to three clay coils to hold the plates in place. A little slower, but always reliable.


I usually cut out the little peak that I get when trimming the foot. One of my mentors, Michael Simon always had these beautiful peaks under his cups, bowls, and plates. For many years it gave me great pleasure to try to get a nice point on my pots, too. One day though, I decided it was time for that point to go and decided from that day on to cut it out! Now I call it the belly button!


Every once in a while I leave the point. After all, cutting it out seems a little contrived even though I like the belly button. I think a lot about Michael when I make pots, even though I don't try to make the pots he makes, his commitment and mastery continue to inspire.