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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: handles

Funny Handles, or How I Delight and Scare Myself at the Same Time

Michael Kline

I've really been trying to break out of some habitual pottery making, this week. Probably due to the stimulation and/or the self conscious reactions of conferencing! There's nothing quite like seeing presenters at a conference, or working side by side with some very talented potters to shake things a little loose in the head and the hands.

That's sort of the rationalisation or explanation of this pot, anyway.

Last night I needed to handle this bottle. I felt like it needed another element to fulfill some kind of balance. This isn't exactly a NC style jug, the neck is a bit long and narrow. The proportions don't scream whiskey. (maybe the shape is suggesting more of a Chambord type bottle?) So I thought I might give it a pair of vestigial handles, as you do.

As I pulled the little handles off the side of the pot I literally flipped the attachments above rather than below the attachment in a fit of spontaneity and experimentation. It was quite a little thrill.  [private wooohoo moment]


I know, ha-ha, sometimes I can be a little full of myself or melodramatic.

Anyway, all this just to say that I went with it and kind of like it! But like a new pair of shoes (which I really need, btw) it takes a while to get used to it. This ain't exactly Catawba Valley shape language anymore. I even hesitated to share this little odd pot with you! But, hey, it's just pottery, right?

Well that's all for now. It's Saturday, which means  that I need to update the FB Ceramic Index, but there's so much to do with my clay hands. And as you know, using a computer requires clean hands. SO the Index might have to wait.


Will I see you next week in Milwaukee? If not, you can follow my trip here, or on IG, or on FB.  If you are on FB check out our interactive group page that Carole Epp has organized. It's sort of a companion convo to our NCECA presentation on social media( Friday 3/21 9 am). 

Thanks, as always for taking the time to leave me comments and reading my pottery bloggery.

Got Grip?

Michael Kline

All hail the few, the proud, the blog reader!

In an effort to keep the world informed of my little victories, here is Monday's edition of the pottery bloggery.

1, 2, 2.5, and 3

There may be a couple of you out there would be happy to know that I managed to complete #3  on Scott's adgenda Friday. It only took me 3 days! [so much for 12 x 12] But in my defense, there was some hearty discussion that is just as valuable to this potter. 

stamped and handled

The shapes became a little better, more refined, but the handles seemed awkward. Making handles is a floppy affair that is somewhat of a riddle. A potter can't just pick up the pot with its freshly drawn handle, the potter has to wait till the handle has firmed up. Waiting. There's a lot of waiting in pottery making. 
 designed for one finger. as much clay in the handle as the cup
Here are some other types of handles. Some are more like latches than handles. But all meant to be controlled by hand, not foot. Maybe claw if that's what you got.

handle that lets me into the chicken zone. sometimes tricky to open with 2 hands full of eggs

a favorite handle. screen door to our house. i use this one a lot. hand made!

smooth lines, nice attachment

two of my fingers fit this model

Until next time, keep a firm grip.

Jug Redemption

Michael Kline

Not counting my chickens yet, but I'm happy with these handles and especially happy that these have made it this far. I hope Tom, my handle critic, likes these.

I'm painting pots, but don't have any pictures for you yet. Hopefully later.

Blue Birds, Chicks, and Bloggin'

Michael Kline

Spring break is behind us and the chicks were wild!

Even the bluebirds wanted in on some pottery fun!

But seriously, I have been curbing my enthusiasm for bloggering every little thing I do and have found it very productive!

Who would've known?

After a visit with Turner last week and some close examination of some alkaline glazed pots Catawbaware, I had the thought that some of these handles must have been thrown. It's quite possible that they were pulled, but I had a hunch about some of these. After some brief experience over the past few years of my fascination with this style handle, I thought there's no better way except to do.

here's the cylinder that I will cut the handle from.
I carefully scored with a needle tool. If you go too fast you may lose control of the soft clay and bang up the handle.
The cut handle layed out on the table to measure equal length for each handle.
A trial attachment.
The handle with a coil added to the upper part of the attachment and smoothed in.
Not bad to my eyes. But we'll see where this goes. The only drawback to this kind of handle is that it makes it harder (but not impossible) to balance a piece of glass on the handle to get a glass run in the glaze. But I like the lines and the thinner cross section of the handles. I think they will be easier to hold.

Back to it and then a trip to Asheville for a visit to Kyle's and then Clay Club at Odyssey!

Handle Speak

Michael Kline

I've been wanting to explore the possibilities of a podcast.

This is just a little something I recorded from the shop a couple of nights ago, to a) check the quality of my mic and recording equipment, b) figure out a way to host an audio file in this blogger blog. [Blogger doesn't "support" audio embedded in a post.]

Please let me know what you think, it will help me produce more comprehensive podcasts in the future. Perhaps interviews?!

Thanks, as always,

Handle Speak 64Kbps by Michael Kline Pottery
Download now or listen on posterous
handle speak 64kbps.mp3 (2025 KB)

Posted via email from Michael's posterous

Tom Turner: Part 2: Salt Glazed

Michael Kline

If I had taken more notes and been a better student I could then pass on more information to you about the pots in this post. But as it stands, it's been over a week since I visited Tom and looked at these pots and I didn't have my notebook with me.

One important thing that happens, though, when handling pots or objects of any kind is a sort of downloading of non-verbal information. Textures, weights, shapes become internalized and this data is kept in hand memory and visual memory. We become scanners and cameras as we handle and turn these objects. You don't have to be a potter to do this. All of us handle hundreds of objects every day. Our relationship with any object is the product of these sensory interactions merging with our own needs and desires. We need a cup of tea or coffee, we desire that particular cup. The necessity of food and eating for survival is the primary job for which pottery exists, the culture of that pottery is lead by our desire for function and style. The available technology at any given time in history is the catalyst for expression in the art of the potter.

Although I don't consider myself a scientist, I am infinitely curious. This curiosity leads me to answer questions that I have in my work as a potter. As a contemporary potter I am fortunate to have examples of previous potter's research available in collections like Tom's, like the Mint Museum's, and others, like the Freer/Sackler. In any research discovery stands on the shoulders of the past. Unfortunately, a lot of what I do in the studio is redundant in the search for these answers.
I'm not sure, yet, how to minimize this. But continuing to study is crucial.
No matter if you are making pottery or sculpture, no matter if you are new to clay or a veteran, it is essential to the success of your work to know the history. We may be doomed to repeat the failures of the past, I know I have, but we can also enjoy the satisfaction of perpetuating good ideas and good forms with our work.
I meant to talk more specifically about the marks on some of these pots, but I've gone on a tangent. Last week, Tom and I were were looking at handles, their attachments, and capacity marks. These images show a few ways of marking and embellishing.

In the process of answering questions about these pots we learn about the needs and desires of the people who made them and the culture that surrounded them. In turn, we learn about our own needs and desires, both as potters and as people. Thanks Tom for sharing.

I'd better get myself in that studio and make some pots today! Thanks for indulging.

Tom showing proper form when holding an old pot

***Click here to see another Stedman/Seymour pot you might find very interesting. I can't imagine what it was for or how it might have been used. Maybe you have an idea?


Michael Kline


After I put those handles on the jar I snapped out of it and realized they were way too big! What do you think? I went ahead and removed them at the risk of botching the pot. But it was fine. I don't think the jar really needed handles anyway.

here is a jar
with some reasonably proportioned handles.
let me know what you think.

I just came down to the house to get my knee brace. Seems like the old knee is feeling squirrelly tonight. Can't afford to fall now! Now for some more pottery and podcasts!

Handling Jugs

Michael Kline

no horizontal surface left!

Not sure what to say. It was a good day, but at this point even a good day may not be enough. But it's all I can do to finish these pots and get them deco'd before I load the kiln this coming Saturday.

Today's work involved cutting feet on the big bowls and handling jugs! I also handled some of the 2 lb jars. Some of these little pot's handles are simply ridiculous in scale, but I approached these little pots with the idea that I wanted to get the handles on fast and decisively. So some of these were pretty off base, time to fuss!

I'm hoping to hear from Turner, who's been my consultant on these jug handles. Basically Tom says bigger, so maybe these are getting there as far as scale goes. He's right, some of the 2 gallon jugs with thin strappy handles wouldn't inspire confidence when filled . SO each round I hope to get better.

After doing the jug on the right side's handles I made sure to refer to The Potter's Eye and the pot I remembered having two honkin' handles! It just looks strange to me. It has such a different look than the one on the right, a little too streamlined. I miss seeing the spout, which gets lost between the handle terminals.

It's a beauty (by Daniel Seagle, 19c. NC potter) and you figure that with about 10 gallons of liquid and the weight of the pot, we're talking about at least a hundred pounds. Those handles better be beefy, right? My jugs are only about four or five gallons and I thought a lot about getting the handles big enough, just in case someone decided to actually use these pots!!

Well this is what I'm up to as I head into a week of deco and glaze. I hope you enjoy reading. Let me know if you have any questions or comments, it's always good to hear from ya'll.

Finally, Handles

Michael Kline

After a few days under plastic these jugs were liberated and handled. For the record, because I know there is someone out there asking this question to themselves, "Yes, I was wearing my Pointer Brand overalls." Tom, I hope you like the handles!

Handle Video

Michael Kline

Despite the advice of my inner director, I left my voice on this video. Here is a short handle tutorial that I put together for my upcoming Greatest Hits DVD. Hope you find this useful.

Getting A Handle On It

Michael Kline

bucket on rolling cart with Mud Tools rib

A board of little mugs that I had made the other day, Saturday(?), awaited me this morning. After circling around and looking for the right arrangement I ended up with this setup to add and pull handles on them. I score the pots with a big serrated rib that Michael Sherrill gave me last Fall. I like using it because it's stiffish (is that a word?), it fits nicely in my grasp, and makes quick work of scoring. It simply feels better than the small serrated rib I had used for years.

scritch, scratch, poke, poke

Speaking of "feel" my daughters were hanging out the other day when I was throwing these mugs. Lillian decided she would help me, so after a short training session, she controlled the speed of the wheel, as I said faster, slower, etc. It felt like a team of glassblower's working in tandem on a piece. The crank on the old Shimpo is pretty stiff, but I must say the little gal got pretty good it. While she sat on the stool crankin', she also poked at a couple of the mugs. After a few of those, Evelyn wanted to get in on the fun. The mug at the right is poked by Lillian, the one on the left is Evelyn's design. I found it interesting that Evelyn decided to make a different mark than Lillian. After E made her marks, L gave it a scratchy try on the next one (always copying her older sister).

But all of this has me thinking how much these and other small pots are all about the finger tips. Maybe it's the relative scale of our hands/fingertips and the pots they encounter. Maybe this is a little bit vague. hmmm. One of the things that resulted from my accident a few years ago, was the difficulty of throwing tableware. (cups, bowls, production work) My fingers got sore from the repeated finger work required from throwing these smallish pots. My reaction was to make bigger pots that I could turn with ribs or a curled hand holding a sponge, hence a transition into larger pots that continues to this day. Now, though my fingers are stronger and smaller repeat ware isn't a problem.

Just a few thoughts on throwing, which I will now do since my lunch and this post are done!

where's that lotion??!!

Jug, Handle, Again?

Michael Kline

I'm fairly happy with the handle, it's strong and one finger and a bent elbow will easily be able to lift this pot. The tool I use to scratch birds and other designs into the dry leatherhard clay is one I used in printmaking back in college. It's modified with lots of duct tape. I can't remember what the tool is called, but it has three faces that come together into a sharp point that can be easily sharpened as needed.

Jug Handles

Michael Kline

I followed some advice that Tom Turner gave me concerning my jug handles. [not without some hemming and hawing, though] and I think he was right to say that my handles are to small, which I interpreted as too strappy. The handle on the right is a strappy handle and the one on the left is rounder in cross section. I, myself, like the one on the left. Which one do you favor? These are pretty big pots. The one on the right is about 3 gallons and the left is about 2. So just from that info, with water weighing about 8 lbs/ gallon, the handle has got to be stout. But that's all I'll say. What do you say?

P.S. Tom, how'd I do?

Have a good weekend all!

Breakfast Cups?

Michael Kline

Made a mess of my old bread and butter pots, "breakfast cups", tumblers, more bowls. Here is a handle point of view from a row of cups. I've made this format for a long time and the term "breakfast cup" was coined by a wholesale account I had years ago with Anthropologie. I got a reorder on my fax machine one day and it had an order for x many breakfast cups??!!?? I wondered what the hell that meant, so I called them to find out. After awhile I was calling 'em breakfast cups. Boy, that seems so long ago. I guess it was! 1992, another election year...

Weather good today, breezy, warm. Still at it. Tomorrow should be my last wet day, well, maybe Monday....Haven't made any jugs. There's always the tonight.


Michael Kline

I just wanted to share some pictures of the handles I just put on some jars. I put a couple on yesterday, maybe a bit too late, ouch.

So with the rest of the jars, still a little soft, I went ahead and attached them. What was I waiting for anyway? I guess it's a holdover from the old types of handles I make, that get pulled off the pots. These just get "laid" on and thumbed into place. So with my left hand inside the jars I used my right to do the thumbing.

By thumbing, I mean that use my thumb to smooth the handle into place after it has been set into position. I use a little water on my thumb for lube. Here is an archived post on handles. Today's handles weren't done exactly as in the archive, but close. I didn't add the coil on the top of the handles.