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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: dirt

Mixing the Dirt

Michael Kline

I've been playing with the "Big One" the last couple of days. It's a circa mid 1960's Paoli clay mixer. I'm still trying to figure out how it's best use is.

click on images to enlarge so you can see my
fancy hose shut off feature

I started by scrubbing the interior and rinsing. There was a fair amount of rusty bits in there. Then I dumped the red dirt of varying wetness/dryness.

crushing the dirt into smaller pieces

On top of the dirt I put in the rest of the dry materials.

The mixer goes "forward" and "backward" and I used this feature to keep the mix in the main mixing section. Yesterday I mixed a small batch of red dirt clay and today mixed up a big batch of the sandy version.

the sand station in the distance.
the sun and wind helped dry out
the sand which helped in sieving it.

We have a huge pile of sand left over from Stacey's paving project and it adds a bit more texture to the clay. I tested it out last firing as well as doing a calcium test with some muriatic acid. However, it contains some material that is too large. To get the little stones out I dried the sand and shook it through my sieve. I know, it does seem like a lot of trouble...but nothing but the best! (keepin' it local)

Here's the recipe. If you have a local red clay, fire in a wood kiln to about cone 9 1/2 and use salt, then you may get close.
45% red dirt (15 mesh)
35% fireclay (35 mesh)
4% ball clay
3% XX Sagger
13% g200 feldspar

i sent the clay through the machine
twice to get the consistency right!

stacked pugs


I'll use this clay for my white slip and wax resist work as well as my alkaline glaze.

Now it's off to the shop for some after supper pottery!

That's it for now.

Into Dirt

Michael Kline

After all was OK'd by the electrician's yesterday, Lillian wanted to get into the trench that we were filling in. How could I deny such enthusiasm for the red dirt! Unfortunately Evelyn decided she needed to tamp down the dirt around Lillian which made for a more difficult extraction! But she's fine now after her bath. But around here they say once that dirt gets in ya, it's hard to wash it out. I certainly believe that! We'll have to keep a close eye on that young'un and see if she takes to the dirt and the potter's wheel.
I wouldn't mind that at all!

Who Needs Electricity Anyway?

Michael Kline

Well, I'd love some, please. But I won't need any for my treadle wheel!

It was a gorgeous Spring day and as the mercury hit about 60*F this afternoon, I thought it would be a good time to move a wheel into the studio, a gentle reminder of my true calling, perhaps. It was good to see a pottery making machine in place, ready and willing. Just a kick away from it's ultimate fulfilment! Ah, but wait, couldn't I have at least washed it off a little before this picture was taken? I guess not. As Michael's mother-in-law would have said....clean dirt!

If weather holds up, I will get some outside work done. But the forecast is for rain and snow. We'll see, plenty of work to do inside, counters, tables, trim. I also want to build my Shimpo wheel stand and ball opener.

Kind Words of Support

Michael Kline

Yesterday it was all about the dirt and today it was all about the sawdust. I continue to cut and split a giant oak tree up in the woods above our house. Both of these activities reminded me of my love of these two materials, these gifts of this place. The field where my studio and kiln are built has the most unbelievable depth of red dirt that I've seen around. There are very few stones, and that is rare here in the mountains. The wood I'm cutting is for our house, our heat. But I'll have to cut more wood for the kiln and for the studio. That will require a new chain for the saw and some days when it's not raining. We have more rain forecast for the next week, maybe next week I will get some dry time.
A few things have to happen inside the new studio before I can have the final electrical inspection but we're close. I have to be careful how I define close, as we've said that many times before. There are quite a few things left on the ole punch list, but I'm excited about moving the wheels into the studio and building some counter tops, tables , and, of course, the wedging table/clay storage bin. Soon I will be posting pictures of pottery work and the road to the thirtieth firing!
If you haven't participated in the survey, please do. It's at the top of the column to the right. It will only take a moment and will be helpful to inform me about the functionality of my commenting service and want to make sure that everyone can have a say here at S & D.

Thanks for all the encouragement that you all sent my way in the past few days. I appreciate your support and thank you for reading.