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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: glazing

My Brilliant Ideas

Michael Kline

I was surprised when I saw the results of the reduction firing of the mugs I made for this summer's Penland Benefit Auction. I guess surprises can be good or bad.

Half of the mugs I glazed with a shino glaze, then painted a floral wax pattern, then dipped them in the shino glaze again. All the while seeing in my ceramic "third eye" a brilliant layering of glazes, fired to perfection, with a gorgeous contrasting pattern of leaves and vines.

All perfect! Brilliant!

[cue the Jaws music, show potters laughing, sharing their pottery jokes, unaware of the hazards that this distracted moment present]

Then, in my distraction,  I went ahead with the remainder of the mugs, forgetting to dip the first layer of shino and blissfully and ignorantly, painted away my wax patterns, dipped them in the glaze, only to realize that I had forgotten a crucial step!

Oh well, there was no reset button with that wax resist, and nothing to do but submit the pots to the kiln with my sheepish grin and fingers crossed that the bare clay would look ok and the mugs salvageable!

When I saw the mugs I realized that my ideas are never as brilliant as they exist in my ceramic mind's eye. BUT, my mistakes are sometimes golden!


Not all mistakes are golden, but they are always worth scrutinizing. The mug pictured was one of the dozen or so mugs that weren't glazed like I had planned. The glaze was much redder than I imagined. I was thinking of a more tame bland shino. To my surprise the rich red/orange was a nice contrast to the bare stoneware.

The mugs glazed right, were awful, IMHO. Shiny, pattern barely recognizable, blah! I mean, they're OK, maybe I need to look at them again, after sleeping on it. But my impressions were NOT good. I didn't even want to photograph them.

Anyway, enough about that. I'll save it for my next magazine article for Pottery Psychology Today.

What a tangent!

The real highlight of the day was definitely throwing pots and talking shop with my blogging buddy, Scott Cooper. Here's Scott clip cloppin' the treadle wheel at Penland.

Scott wrote brilliantly (as he does) You can read about our little Penland symposium here.

I'm heading back up to put some handles on the mugs I threw yesterday, so I must be going for now.
It's Scott's last wet day and he's chasing plastic. Time for me get to the real work. The clock is tickin'

Chiow wow wow and Happy Valentine's Day y'all!


Michael Kline

from Facebook
Hi Brett,

It all depends. Some weeks I'm very productive and some weeks things go slowly. At the beginning of my session before a firing, I may make a handful of pots a day. Closer to the firing deadline, I'm filling up tables, checking off my make list. Ironically, when I'm at the top of my throwing game (like now!) it's time to stop making! I should have stopped making pots last week, but my make list says that I still need so many of "x, y, and z". The compounded effect of this deadline kind of thinking is that the last minute making steals from the time I need to paint and glaze the existing pots and then steal again when they, too, want to be decorated. The image in my mind to describe this is one you might be familiar with. You know when there is an traffic jam on the interstate and everybody politely is waiting, then somebody decides that they are more important than the rest and passes  in the breakdown lane to get to the front? That's what the pots that I made yesterday will be doing to get into the kiln by Friday.

So to answer your question (or not) it varies. I try to average about 20 pots of various sizes a day. I also try to balance pots that require trimming and post-wheel work with pots that just have to be turned over to dry.

I'm not very good at making pots and decorating at the same time, so I tend to "stockpile" my bisque ware and sit down for a week before the loading and firing of the kiln surrounded by stacks of plates, jars cups, etc. All of them waiting for some sort of decorative treatment. Once I get rolling the intimidation of that many pots melts away and the exhilaration of painting patterns  becomes exciting.

So, Brett, I hope that approximates a good answer to your question.

Here are a few pots I've made in the last couple of days. 

Friday Message

Michael Kline

It's been quite a run these last couple of days, but the kiln and most of the pots are ready to be loaded! Everything is wadded and the first shelves are in the kiln.The weather is absolutely gorgeous with a warm breeze.

John Simmons is doing some stem and leaf designs on some flower pots and I'm doing some last minute painting. I'll posts pictures of some of the pots I've been painting as well as announce this week's giveaway contest.

So don't stray!



Michael Kline

Noon zipped on by as I stared at my sparklingly white porcelain bisque ware. I have set up my painting area and taken my new Ebony pencil to sketch patterns on the surfaces of some of the cups. Like a dog circling 'round it's pallet on the floor, and then scratching it, and arranging it, before lying down, I put things together at my table and in my mind to make my painting bed.

Painting pots with patterns is sometimes dreamlike and it is an activity that I definitely get lost in. My imagination drifts and travels around the pot with my brush and slip as my vehicle.

Like any 'journey, there's a lot of prep and planning, and then it's time for the rubber to hit the road.

After a while the pedal hits the metal and I'm off!

Every winter I have the habit of turning everything upside done (sort of). For the last month I have been working on developing a skill with an unfamiliar material, porcelain. This stuff couldn't be more opposite in character than the home clay. In almost every way it is different.

So now it will take some faith to glaze and fire it in the electric kiln opposed to my usual wood kiln. Actually it will take a big leap! I heard an actor being interviewed on a radio show today describe taking a role that was totally contrary to the roles he had played before. He described it as "jumping off the cliff".

Great metaphor. It's a good way of putting that decisive moment of risk taking!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

I Should Be Making Pots!

Michael Kline

a picture taken by Evelyn of her old Papa throwing some porcelain

So much for my 12x12 this morning. Instead, I'm grinning and marveling at my wondrous new Apple Cinema Display! Finally I can take the old Compaq VGA (circa 1998) to the local second hand store! The color, the brightness, and the wide screen on this 20" monitor is kind of freaking me out! I realize now what I've been missing. I may have to go back and recalibrate all of the images on the blog for the last couple of years (since I inherited this awesome Mac G5). The Compaq VGA monitor has been fine, but I always had a hunch that the color wasn't quite right. But I guess you make do with what you have, right?

Well I might as well catch you up in studio news, while you've taken the time to visit.

I finally planned the firings for the year and coordinated dates of shows, exhibits, etc with firing dates! I also went ahead and penciled in 2012 as well, since there are already shows I've committed to for next year.

I made a dozen more plates and bowls in Matt and Dave's Porcelain (for the People) Sunday. The weather was gorgeous and it was the first time in a good while that I wasn't bothered when the girls came into the shop without closing the door! I even let the wood stove take the day off!

I glazed the earthenware pots for the Montessori School Literary Tea Project. I should get them into the kiln shortly and glaze them up!

Today, I also plan on doing some painting of the porcelain bisque for the upcoming cone 7 glaze firings in the revamped L & L eKiln! Very exciting! I'm going to do some glaze tests to experiment with my wood kiln glazes at that temperature, too.

Well, I'd better get with it and get up to the shop . Here is a another picture from our Sunday in paradise where we see the heir to my brushe collection painting a tea cup! Have a great week, be productive, Love what you do, and take a chance!

Painting/Glazing Highlights

Michael Kline

As usual, I'm completely (well, almost) tapped from getting the pots painted, glazed, and ready to fire. Lucky for me, Courtney loaded the entire kiln! I don't have a lot to say. I just wanted to post a few pictures of the painting session (in no particular order) and make some ever so brief comments and then it's off to dreamland so I can be an effective stoker in the a.m.!



couldn't go wrong with the brush marks in this one.

trying to incorporate my style of leaves.
combing included free of charge.

we'll see if these wiped highlights show up
in the fired article.
a visitor to my studio recently asked if I took notes.
If you are trying something new, take a picture!

big pitcher with random leaf and
dots deco

lillian and her ballerina cup

iron, copper, cobalt

the stack


Michael Kline

basketball activated glaze fountain!

Well, not much of a contest. No prize. If you had looked at the pictures on Tom's page you would have probably seen the picture above. I'm feeling rather dull these from these rainy mountain days, I guess. Also after looking at all of the pics I have taken for the upcoming Etsy sale!

here's a sneak peek pic

Check back to find out when it's happening. Hint: it's going to be very soon.

Michael Kline

Almost everything was glazed yesterday and I just have a couple of touch-ups before I move it all down to the kiln this morning. I'll try to upload some shots of the stacking if I can, but I'm pressed for time because I'll be heading over to Knoxville in the morning for our home sale. More on that when there is time. Good Saturday to everyone.

Recap Pt. I

Michael Kline

It's not easy cramming all of the stuff that happened in the last few days into one post. Maybe I'll spare you.

Where to begin?

The Sunday firing had already been delayed for a day and couldn't be pushed back any further. The pots I needed to paint and glaze were everywhere. Inside and outside of the shop, in piles. It was pretty intimidating. I usually take at least 4 days to do the work, but reasonably it takes 5 or 6. This time I had 3! You can imagine the picture I would post if I had it. The picture of me sitting there at my bench with my brushes and all of those pots with a look not unlike a deer on my face. It's in those moments when I wish I could just dip the pots and be done.

After the painting, came the glaze-a-thon on Friday which went into early early Saturday a.m. I wouldn't recommend this approach to anyone, but it's what had to be done, unfortunately. My palette of glazes has to be divvied up not only for the sake of variety, but also for technical reasons. Some places in the kiln are hotter/cooler than others, some places get more salt fuming/glazing than others, etc. So it's hard to keep up with all of this stuff in head, but somehow I intuit all of this stuff. Maybe that is why I use a limited palette, just one slip and 3 glazes.
Throughout the process, I get new ideas about pattern, color, and various combos. The brushwork evolves, although it seems to evolve at a slower pace than before in these circumstances. One of the hazards from working under such pressure is that I paint impulsively. This can also yield some pretty fresh deco, too. Quick and spontaneous. I was pretty happy with the painting and deco ideas.

Maybe that's enough for tonight. I'm still pretty spent from the work. I'll continue tomorrow with the loading and firing.

z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z Night Night.

Big Rain and the Hatch

Michael Kline

Had a nice conversation with Alex tonight about those wall pockets. It was good to hear he was tying flies in hopes for some fishing here in the hills sometime soon. Meanwhile outside there was a lot of rain as I hustled jars that had been sitting outside under the roof to catch a breeze and be dry for the big kiln loading. With the rain came some big hatch of teeny little flies that were sneaking in through the open door and hovering near the lights! I'll save a few for Alex.

I didn't follow my boss's advice to start painting today, and instead, continued to throw a few more large platters. I lost a couple in the bisque kiln and thought it would be worth squeezing in. The cracked platters had been stacked with sand in between and had little hairline cracks. Damn!

I worked on cleaning up the wall pockets and cutting holes in the backs. I first took a fettlin' knife to the edges and them smoothed them with a chamois. When I came in this morning several had cracked from being too wet from the throwing and then being closed in the throwing. Alex says that he thoroughly dries the interior before he closes the forms. That should do it for me. My red dirt is really prone to cracking in its wet state. So I spent some time repairing the cracked ones and had an idea to try to "dart" some in the future. One of the intriguing changes that happen when one flattens a thrown form is how that form changes. Exciting, huh? Welcome to my world of pottery intrigue!

Anyway, I shuffled and organized the bisque ware and pots still needing to be. It's becoming clear that there won't be time or room in my electric kiln to bisque everything, so the last few pots will be raw glazed, bone dry glazed.

The punch list is bigger than I thought and I'll start hitting it in the a.m.

So long for now.

Back Story

Michael Kline

another Turner porcelain teacup with wax
and Stonepool tenmoku.

Here are a few more pictures I meant to post the other day, but was to busy giving tours of the new studio!

the staging area for loading into the kiln. Not seen
are a couple more tables behind that have the big
jars and some more plates.

birdie that is going to fly real close to the fire

a detail of a short stack (of plates)