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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: coffee break

Coffee Break vol. 35

Michael Kline

Did I hear someone say #MugshotMonday? Or is just an echo in my memory?

Well neither, actually. It's just another volume in the undying series, Coffee Breaks™here at the Sawdust and Dirt BLOG, not to be confused with the podcast of the same name. This is about the clickety clack sound of the old keyboard but I must admit it is a reprint from another "blogging" platform. But, BOY, can i drop links into THIS format like nobodies business!

At any rate, here is the blog post I set out to cross post in the first place,

I met Marsha Owen at the Penland School of Crafts 25 years ago in a workshop being taught by GA potter Michael Simon. I also met Sam Taylor, Aaron Weissblum, Jane Shellenbarger, Suze Lindsay, and Mark Shapiro! It was quite a group. We were all young and wanting to be potters. Sam had only been making pots for a little over a year.

Suze and Jane were #corefellows at Penland, I had graduated from UTK and had only made pots for 5 years. Mark was probably the most experienced one being a little older than us and making pots since high school. We see each other from time to time.

We were all very much imprinted by Michael's demos and just being together working and playing at Penland for those 3 weeks changed us. Marsha and Suze and myself went on to be Penland resident artists. (at different times) and I teamed up with Mark and Sam (and Aaron for a time) as the brothers in clay in western Massachussetts. We lived and breathed pots.

For the last two winters Marsha has been to Penland to work in the #winterstudio at #Penland and we fired the salt kiln together. This paddled cup was in our valentine's day firing and Marsha gave it to me. But it has been sitting in the office at Penland with a little note. So today, I finally get to drink out of it and think of Marsha and all the rest.

Objects have all kinds of ways of engaging us with their forms, colors, and the memories they can evoke.

Some Painted Pots and The Village Potter

Michael Kline

All the pots are bisqued
and the glaze is stirred
 I picked up my brush...

the last bisque with glaze test tiles for Courtney Martin
natures patterns are everywhere! even in a bisque firing!

step by step vine instructions (clockwise)
more pattern, less negative space

Ahh, can't finish this!  (to the tune of Mingei-sota Dreaming, or is that California Dreamin'???)

Staying up late painting pots has once again dulled my recall.

I strive, (I really do!) each session, to refine my painting, to push it to a slightly different place. I guess it might look like the same old @klineola ware, but i hope the patterns are more nuanced, more fluid each time.

I like these just the way they are but the glaze and firing will make these functional and add another layer of subtlety.

coffee break with my newish  Matthew Schiemann mug

Way behind schedule, but, as promised, a few pics of my painting progress, and a link to a great article I just read while taking my coffee break!

Read about the island of misfit pots: The Village Potter

OK! Back to work!

Coffee Break vol. 34

Michael Kline

Vol 34 of my coffee break series is a four-fer, a quad, if you will. And if you look closely enough you can see a little dried coffee dribble on each cup. I guess I'm a sloppy drinker.

You can see all of the coffee break series by using the little search box on top of the right side bar.


by clicking the coffee break label at the top of the right side bar or at the bottom of this post.

the coffee cups are piling up in the shop!
clockwise, from upper left, Josh Copus, Emily Murphy,
Bruce Gholson, and Mathew Hyleck

[Crunch week reminder to self: buy coffee and melita No. 4's]

Coffee Break vol. 33

Michael Kline

A person in my position as maker in chief has no business sitting down to write about pottery. He needs to be strapped to the wheel making pots. With just a few more days to make pots for an upcoming firing, writing a blog post is the last thing I should be doing. But I need a break this evening and I have been promising this post all day in my other channels of social media.

The other thing I should not be doing for this coffee break entry is writing about an empty cup of coffee. Normally I take an actual real time break with a particular cup of joe. Sipping while writing is how thoughts flow best. But here I sit at 10:30 at night trying to summon some distant memory of a break I took earlier in the day, amongst the sunshine, the table of pots covered in plastic or the sheen of being just thrown. The coffee was fresh and hot. The pottery is at its peak when the coffee is just made. The handle is warm, not hot, like the side of the cup that isn't quite ready to be "cupped" in one's hands. Held comfortably at a distance, the cup is coy with its cargo of hot.

Moments later the drink is drunk and cup is retired and work continues. But only after a few pics are snapped. That is the way of the potter blogger. One foot is inside the moment, while another steps back to grab the camera to record it. At the core of my blogging experience is this dance between the making and the recording of the process.

Now the sharing of it.

Mark and I in the Smoky Mtns this past September
The cup is by my brother in clay, Mark Shapiro. In a masterful way the cup is a paradox of stoneware density and it's soft touch. The rise of the cup undulates with a continuous spiral of a deep throwing groove. The salt glaze varies from smooth sheen to a sugary melting with fly ash from its wood fired origins. The unreadable faux script covers the pot in a message in some unknown pattern language. Some of the marks almost look like letters or numbers, Misspellings? Codes? The marks are as varied as the salt glazed wood fired surface.

Evidence that the pot was once stuck to a wheel head and cut with a wire graces the bottom of the pot in parallel lines where wire was pulled straight beneath it and the salt and fly ash have fused themselves ever so subtlety.

The unusually narrow handle has the robust of a handle made out of iron, instead of clay. Sometimes it's more about the confidence and the attitude of the maker than the physical attributes of the material. My thumb fits nicely at the topside of the handle, while my truncated index finger points comfortably at the center of the cup, middle finger loops inside, and ring finger supports outside and underneath the handle.

The fine vertical lines on the cups sides are a result of brushing the freshly applied slip and might foreshadow the lines one might find after emptying the cup and seeking out a view of the bottom and its fine parallel lines left by the wire tool.

Well, this is what I have learned of this pot so far. I have had dozens of cups of coffee since stealing it from Mark at this past summer's Cousins in Clay Sale where Mark and my other brother in clay, Sam Taylor were my guests. (along with my Seagrove cousins, Bruce and Samantha) and barring its premature Waterloo, many mouths will drink from it for years to come.

Now it's back to the wheel. Somehow I'm sure this cup's qualities will creep out of my subconscious onto my own pots. That's how it all works in this inheritance of pot making. That's why you should also be careful which pots you steal, literally or visually.

Coffee Break vol. 32

Michael Kline

Here's the latest addition to our cupboard, a bountiful and beautiful cup by Steven Colby. I've long been a fan of Steven's work and I recently visited his summer studio at the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, Montana, where I picked this one out.

Steven and demo'd together at the recent American Pottery Festival at the Northern Clay Center, in Minneapolis, MN. The NCC has published the video of our demo but I'm afraid to watch it and apprehensive to post the link here. But I'm sure you can find it if you are diligent.

Back to the java juice before it gets cold. Later.

Coffee Break vol. 31

Michael Kline

I really shouldn't be taking a coffee break so early, but it has been a chilly day here in the pottery neighborhood and with my new rapid boil kettle it was a done-deal in a matter of moments. But no sooner did my water boil and I was on the hunt for a clean(ish) cup. I looked far and wide for a suitable mug that wasn't for sale in my Etsy shop or didn't have schmutz in it from a previous beverage.

Then I saw this little pot on my OPP shelf. It's from my clay Cousins over in Seagrove, who I will be visiting very soon. I had always thought of this pot as a small flower vase. But today I was feeling adventurous and decided to hook it up with a hot coffee.

It sports a really beautiful iridescent iron glaze with a diagonal shino(?) pattern that is somewhat like a stem and leaf. Do you see the iridescence?

The shape is very comfortable and warmed my hands up nicely on a chilly morning. Is it a yunomi? Me no know.

While I having this cup I listened to the latest Brian R Jonescast. This weeks interview is with Brian Giniewski. Have a cup of something warm and check it out!

So off to Seagrove I go and hopefully I can see what goodies The Cousins are into this new year. I'll let you know.

Time To Clean The Shop Pots

Michael Kline

After the Firing, or as it became known in Stonepool parlance as ATF, is that special time reserved for all the things that should have been done, if it weren't for the rigorous demands leading up to a wood firing. Because after the firing there's the waiting.

One of the things that I managed to do today in my dazed-zombie-potter state was to bring the mugs down from the shop for their periodic washing. Coffee, morning noon and night, delivered by these great and noble cups, helped me make it through this unreasonable workload of a cycle.

Like a lot of folks, my dad drank coffee to make it through his work day. Lots of it. It's just one thing we had in common. He was born on this day on 1929. I really do miss him.

Coffee Break vol. #30

Michael Kline

Bailey's Peak, aka the Peak, is always the focal point when I go in my walks around the field with Jack. Today I took this beautiful Courtney mug with me! It came from the firing last month that Courtney and I shared and has become a regular in my coffee break rotation. The handle fits my hand very well and the size is just right for an afternoon jolt-o-joe. Although you can't see it from this picture it has a nice liner glaze. I think it might be called salt white or white salt. The white glaze is a good way to tell whether the coffee is brewed strong enough. If I can see through the coffee to the glaze I might as well toss it out 'cause if I wanted tea I'd brew a pot of Earl Grey!

By this time next week Courtney and I will have loaded the kiln at her place and we'll be taking the holiday with family and friends. We'll return to fire the kiln on cyber Monday!

Back to work...

[ post posting note: here's another shot of CM's mug showing more detail in the glaze, etc! as always, you can click the pic to get a closer look]

Coffee Break vol. 29

Michael Kline

I need a big cup of Joe today as I finish up the pots I need to make for next weeks firing! So I reached for this one made by Ellen Shankin! It holds a good bit of java and I usually use this one to make a big cup of tea. The surface/glaze feels like velvet. No, it's not flocking, but the semi matte, rich, chocolaty, glaze has a softness that breaks so nicely on the fluted lines that zig zag from lip to foot . The handle reminds me of a little cup I used to use, before I dropped it, that was made by my teacher, Michael Simon. I guess I call it a trigger handle because one can only fit one finger through the handle and it's nicely back-filled (and I noticed as I look at this picture I just took, that it has the tiniest little chip in it's handle). No problem. It's quite a survivor and veteran of our cupboard! I think Stacey got this from Ellen the last time we were invited to show with 16 hands. (2007?). The proportions are wonderful and the lines of the fluting give the curve of the profile a nice edginess without spoiling the coziness in the hands. The fluting may also provide some relief from the hot beverage as one holds or cradles as I like to do. This cup has such nice scale that fills my hands.

Thanks Ellen!

I just noticed that our friends in Floyd will be having their Fall studio tour on the weekend of November 26-28! Check out the web site and plan your trip now!

[disclosure note: this coffee break™ is not sponsored, nor was it prompted, by ;-)]

Coffee Break vol. 28

Michael Kline

It's an unlikely time in the very early morning to be having a cup of coffee but such are the circumstances of this potter with the luxury of the electric light to show the way to after hours pottery work.

This is one of our (Stacey and I's) fave-o-rite mugs that has somehow made it's way up to the shop tonight. I think I might have gotten this mug from Ron Meyers on a long ago visit to Athens, GA.

I have a vague memory of fleeing Penland after a little spat that Stacey and I had back during our courtship days. Ron just sat there sympathetically painting away on a pile of pots as I cried on his shoulder about Stacey not wanting to see me again, or something like that. Oh, dating...

Stacey had taken a class with Ron in Cortona Italy way back when, so Ron knew Stacey and must have given me the good advice to get back and plead my case with her 'cause that's what I did, with this cup as my peace offering.

I guess I owe a lot more to this cup (and Ron) than merely the late night messenger of coffee!

Oh, the power of pottery!

Besides having this beautiful painting of this bird (goldfinch?) the handle is one of the finest "trigger/one finger" handles I've ever used. It also has some of the softest lines on any cup that we have. It's a great inspiration at this time of painting. Maybe it's time to paint a few birds?!

Well, enough ruminating and blogging. If I don't get back to work on this pottery and get home before the cows, I might be making another trip to Athens for more advice from Ron!


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Coffee Break vol.27

Michael Kline

At long last I have managed to pry this cup out of Stacey's coffee crazed grip! I got this fine whiskey cup from Kyle (over a week ago!!) and have finally been having my coffee this morning. It accompanied me along the way of all manner of chores!

Maybe I'd better hide it from Stacey and have my whiskey in it tonight!
BTW, Kyle is firing his kiln today. Here's to a good firing Kyle!

Coffee Break vol. 26

Michael Kline

This coffee break is quite a special one and is brought to me (and you) by my secret Santa Hannah McAndrew! From over the ocean way this cup and saucer are just the perfect size for my afternoon joe. Hannah, er, I mean Santa, really did their research and knew just the right size cup to give, with my one cup Melitta filter fitting just perfectly on the rim! I bet Santa has been reading the blog. The wind has let up a little bit here and I am outside cutting firewood, listening to the pod, and enjoying my coffee with my new mug under a deep blue sky.

Thanks for the cup, buddy! (and the goodies we found in the package!)

Coffee Break vol. 25

Michael Kline

I'd forgotten how much I dislike packing pottery for shipping! It's really hard on the hands. But that's how we move these pots around the world.

Speaking of pots moving around, I just got a box from the mail guy and I knew who sent it by the funny card taped on the outside. Yes, Tom White as Santa Claus. But I couldn't wait for Christmas, so I tore into the box and found this rockin' mug from Tom. It was not doubt fired in my buddy Sam Taylor's kiln in Westhampton, MA.

Sam and I happened to be on the phone for quite a while this morning going over plans for a reunion workshop at Snow Farm in May. It will coincide with my show at the Artisan Gallery in Northampton, MA that will open on Memorial Day weekend. See how far in advance these things get rolling? (and I've been talking to the Artisan Gallery for almost a year!) gallery owners/show promoters take a hint. It takes a lot of lead time to put together successful show campaigns, especially with the wood fired pottery cycle.

Anyway, enough preaching (rule of thumb, "don't bite the hand that feeds you, or for that matter the thumb"). This cup helped me get really jazzed up about a weekend with my old, and I do mean old, pals, Sam Taylor and Mark Shapiro and a masters workshop at Snow Farm. The coffee was strong and the ideas about the 'shop were exciting. The catalog hasn't even been published and you're hearing about it first, right here. So stay tuned in as the details get hammered out.

And Thanks TOM! for the mug!

It just so happens that Tom is having his 30th Annual Christmas Sale this next two weekends!! So you better get over there and get some pots like this one. I'm sure he'll have lots of beauties to choose from his kiln and Sam's! Tell him I sent you and maybe he'll keep the payola coming my way.


Coffee Break vol. 24

Michael Kline

Wow! Guess what came in the mail the other day?! Yes it's a beautiful piece of Rascal ware by the notorious Georgette Ohr! It made for a most interesting coffee break. No doubt Georgette would have blended some chicory in her brew, but I am currently into the new Eight O'Clock Dark Italian Roast, yeah! This fine piece of rascal ceramic is made with a dark black porcelain which went well with the mud I drank from it. Also featured is this delightful super crawly glaze. You may be able to tell from the photo, but it has a great angle of repose. The tip of the lip gave me a pause before filling the cup all the way up, 'cause you know a full cup is hard to carry (without spilling!) Not that I was walking around during this here break. No, No, I sat outside to squint at the sun that graced the afternoon in all of its bright whiteness! After yesterdays rain it was a glaringly welcome sight.

Another obvious feature of this cup is it's bulge near its base. This "sit-down" bulge poses something of a secret. You can't really see under the bulge and that makes me curious. Maybe I'll need a dental mirror! Just last night, I was throwing a big 12 pounder when, just before I was finished with one last ribbing, the top dropped at a very thin place in the clay wall. It collapsed so evenly that it just hung there as I tried to correct it. Well, you can imagine who won that wrestling match. This cup masterfully exploits a similar structural circumstance and gives the pot it's distinct presence. Fozen by fire is this almost dilapidated flop of a pot that leans proudly in a defiant swagger!

Coffee Break vol. 23

Michael Kline

Just back from the SPPM and prepping the booth for the Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands this weekend. But before I pack the truck, why not have a piece of coffee cake and a cup of joe? The cake courtesy of Erin Peters of Bula Bags in Buladean!

Erin is the better half of Mark "pallet-kiln" Peters and she catered the pottery market last weekend. Yummy doesn't do justice to the fine food Erin served up! Maybe "sublime" would be more appropriate.

As for the cup, it's one of my signature 'breakfast cups' with some "church" coffee. French Roasted! I just got it back from Gary Roper. My show with Dan Finnegan is over and it was one of the pots that didn't fly out the door. Gary came down from Lewisburg last night and took a tour of the "compound".

But if I hear one more person say, "that's a big cup of coffee!" I think I'll just.....well, I'm sure ill hear it again. Alway's do. Hey, I know it's big but just look at the size of cups people are being served at their favorite coffee boutique!

We'll, just thought I would share the coffee break with you all. Still planning to return to more regular blogging soon. Just have to stay focused on making some moolah.


Coffee Break: Late Nite Edition

Michael Kline

Not the usual time for a coffee break and you can imagine that the coffee does taste slightly paper-towel-ish, but nothing has been ordinary during the last two weeks. Painting has been picking up here in the evening hours. Good music playing, the wood stove taking the chill out of the air, so I thought I would do a few more boards before the night was over. Hence the late-nite-joe!

Much like Kyle Carpenter's cup was the cup of last session, this Hewitt swirl mug has been this session's mainstay. It has been a very comfortable in my hand and has become familiar to my routine. It actually belongs to Lillian! I'm just borrowing it!


Coffee Break vol. 20

Michael Kline

It's never to early for a spot of coffee. Here is a wee teacup made by Linda Sikora, that some of you may remember I picked up at a local second hand store. I'm happy to be the second hand! Pots have this secret life as they travel around and if they could only tell the stories! Have a good Monday!

Coffee Break vol. 19

Michael Kline

Here's a sweet little cup I'm having my afternoon coffee in. Kyle gave this to me this morning! Lucky me! The painting on this cup is amazing. [Wait till this guy starts painting vines! He'll be unstoppable!] Another nice feature of this handless cup is the nice weight of the clay. The pot has great balance and is evenly thrown, and it feels fine with my hot coffee. The salt slip surface is very soft and the painting is very fine. Those of you who know Kyle's work know that he's a master with the brush. You can see some of his pots here. The tassels of the painted grass have a very fine sgraffito that gives a different type of detail to the pattern.

Thanks Kyle. I'll pick a nice pot out of this firing for you. Back to work!