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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: covers

Week's End

Michael Kline

Cover Week came to a crashing end as I miserably failed to refine or update the hump molded dish I was working on for what seemed like hours the other day. I have a few boards of these dishes but called it quits when I wasn't getting the results I wanted. I had come up ,with a way of making a big loaf with the size and shape that needed very little cutting, shaping etc. I had marginal success, but wished I had made new hump molds.

Don Pilcher shared his thoughts on the covers:

They can be done three ways- a spot on
replication, a nuanced restatement or an out of the box expression. Each
has a place though I'd argue they are not equally worthy of our attention
and the life of an art form eventually requires the last.
I guess my out of the box expressions would have benefited from more time. More an exercise than an expression, the covers helped me to understand outside of my box and gave me some ideas to follow up on in the next session after I fire these. Far from complete replication, these offered me a way to throw myself off course just a little by forming unfamiliar shapes and reacting to them in a spontaneous progressive sort of way. Here are a couple of shots of my table where I did a lot of head scratching and slab rolling and hump molding.

Most of the molded dishes were tossed out, but I did save a few to fire. After the day (a week) of experimenting, I needed to make some pots that were reassuring and familiar so I made a bunch of 9 lb. bowls. So at the end of Saturday night, I felt I hadn't wasted a day chasing butterflies, but had some pots that I really needed for the upcoming firing. It's good to mix the practical with the exploratory!

The vase/bottle forms got a coating of my kaolin slip and I did some combing through the wet slip. Next I will do some brushwork on glaze these in my amber/tenmoku. This form was one of my most satisfying research project even though it started out as something slightly different.

Here are the 9 lb (4 kilograms)(0.6 stone) bowls that I made Saturday evening. Sunday was overcast and the light coming from the window to the right of my wheel was great for seeing the line of the platters I threw.

I turned off the overhead lights and was able get a good sense of the line from the lip to the center of these platters. For the past week I have been using Highwater clay's Zellastone and it took a while to retool and approach this commercial clay body. It's been a real relief and convenience to just open bags for a change. But I can't wait to get a back hoe over here to get a few years supply of the red stuff to mix in the coming spring!
The Zellastone is quite a bit more smooth that my red dirt mix and wooden tools didn't work so well. I switched over to some metal ribs and got some really nice results. The above picture shows the shadow from the nearby window that is very helpful when using the metal ribs to get the inside of the bowl just right. For some reason when I'm using the red dirt clay, wooden ribs get the results that are pleasing. Could be the smooth clay versus the course red dirt clay I normally use.
Here's the platters I threw this afternoon. The bowls from last night were turned over and then covered with plastic to even out their dampness.

I'm going into the home stretch for firing 34 and will try to keep all of you informed of the goings on around the shop. February saw the biggest traffic ever at the blog and I hope you will continue to read and share with your friends who may also like to see more pottery in 2010.

Please notice that there are a couple of new ways to share the blog with others who are yet hip to "Sawdust and Dirt" after each post. Just click on the facebook link to share to your "wall" and tweet the blog if you are so in-klined.

I'd love to continue this conversation tonight, but I'm very tired and need some sleep. Big weeks ahead. Just wanted to share a few thoughts about the week's end. Leave a comment, I'd love to know what you're thinking about.

More coming tomorrow ( a new poll) and a lot of pottery in the weeks to come!
Be well!


One Rather Long Ramble: Or Am I Going To Ever Going To Get Back to the Wheel?

Michael Kline

Somehow it all makes sense I guess. There are things in your life that have their influence on you, people, pots, and finger paintings! I just saw this drawing as I was putting together this morning's post and thought, "oh, that's interesting." It could be that I'm drawing conclusions or implying that this drawing has influenced me in some subconscious way when really it just hangs on the door that we go in and out of all through the day. Now I'm confusing myself. Anyway you can draw your own conclusions or draw your own finger painting, or just draw!

When I was at Highwater Clays the other day I bought a bag of Grolleg kaolin for my #6 Tile kaolin slip. Go figure. I call it T6 slip, but it has a little bit of Grolleg in the recipe. It's a recipe I got from Linda Christianson somewhere down the road. It worked really well, so why change a good thing? Well that bag of Grolleg kaolin was $44! Yes, I know it is from England. Yes I know it probably one of the world's best clays. But come on!! I tell myself that it's just a small portion of the recipe and the bag will last a long time. But come on! I putting it on dirt! Oh well. If it works is there a reason to fix it?

[In researching this post, it turns out that all dry materials have gone ¡way! up. Did you notice this, or am I just a little slow to catch on? The Grolleg is actually ¡cheaper! than the #6Tile!! See for yourself...]

I digress.

Where were we?

Oh yes, I pour the slip on the slabs, spin the bat that the slab is on, and then comb away.

Here is the hump mold just after I have shaped a dish. You can still see the ghost image of the combed slip. Below are the molded dishes aprés Bandana. Stacey thought they looked too much like Michael and Naomi's pots. I said, "Oh good!!" I don't think she knew that it was covers week here at the pottery. And what would be so wrong about that, anyway? I guess this idea of originality is a problematic one for us potters.

I also saw some nice doodlings from Dylan Bowen. You can see for yourself. It's a doodle thing! (aka what goes around, comes around)

On to more formal thoughts, or more well formed thoughts, anyway. [damn, ever since Simon's post yesterday, I've been trying to be as clever, sorry, I'll leave the irony to Mr. Levin]

Here is a bottle/vase/call-it-what-you-will, on a specially made chuck for trimming. This series of pots started out as a cover of the Bruce Gohlson "big gulp" yunomi the other day and by the second board of 'em it had morphed into this shape. To see the bottle/vase just hold your monitor upside down, or stand on your head, or scroll down, whatever is more fun, or easier, your choice...
The cup shape grew into a vase shape quite naturally.

Here are a couple that asked for ears!

After that I was back at the treadle wheel for some more trimming. I took the still soft chuck I used for the bottle/vases and reshaped the top to accommodate the MSimon cup covers! The updated chuck's effectiveness was marginal but it worked and I got them done.

The feet were tricky. I soon found that I had looked closely at the finished fired cup when throwing these, but hadn't looked closely enough at the foot. For most of these I had left too much clay in bottoms which needed a lot careful tweaking to get the cups where they wanted to be. A process that made the feet look a little overwrought. Most of them were taller and narrower in proportion than the original.

This one had the nice profile, a decent weight, and the foot was close, but a far cry from Mr. Simon's. The scale is a little off.


The scale is one of the things I like about Michael's cup. It's volume is very specific to my coffee in the morning or a good gulp of water. My version will hopefully find a home where it is "just the thing".

For me, it's back to the drawing board, or rather, back to the wheel! It's getting on noon and here I am at a keyboard!

Don't forget to take this weeks poll! Just a few hours left! Scroll down and you'll find it on the right hand sidebar. Thanks.

Quick Tour Around the Shop

Michael Kline

Just time for pictures and captions. Too many thoughts, so little time to write them down. Maybe we'll have a snow day soon and I can sit down to expand on some of the things I've meaning to share with you. For now, some views of the shop from today.

the shop is full of pots that are stating to pile
up and the plastic is everywhere

speaking of covers!
my buddy Peter Karner made the cover!
I'm proud to see his beautiful pots.
It's a great issue.

thanks to a visit from my neighbor/potter
David Ross, we have this shot of me making
my cover pot of the day

the rim of this cup gets a little bumped around while I flute the sides.
I guess I should mention that the cover pot is
one of my favorite cups given to me by
Michael Simon a few years ago.
it's there on my treadle wheel...
See this coffee break.

the board of fluted cups