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192 Jim Boone Rd
Bakersville, NC, 28705
United States

828-675-4097

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!

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Michael Kline


one of the great satisfactions of loading the jigsaw pieces of a kiln load
is the orderliness of the stack:
a sort of re-centering of the pots after
the shuffling of decorating and glazing.


What a week! What a month!

It's been quite a roller coaster ride this time around and I've taken the last few days to regain a foothold on the life. The kiln cools as I grab the domestic baton that Stacey has handed to me as she teaches at Arrowmont this week. I've traded a hectic life of pottery for the hectic life of Mr. Mom! It's been interesting to say the least. For the last 2 and a half weeks the girls haven't seen much of me and now I'm all they have here at the homestead. We're all holding on to each other as if we're on some sort of life boat waiting for Stacey to return on Saturday! Well, it's not that bad, I'm being a little melodramatic. But we do miss her!!

There's much to tell you about, but I'm afraid that so much will be swept away with the unloading of the kiln tomorrow and the events of the next few days, which I will have no choice but to give more attention to because they will be front and center in this potter's life. I do hope I can look back and write about last weekend's loading and firing of the kiln. Maybe I can weave in some before and after pictures with tales of the perils and the ecstasy of long hours, hard work, and the help of friends and family.

Art Centered

Michael Kline


Jann Welch, of Art Centered, hosted Ken Sedberry, myself, and about thirty students from Gouge Elementary, yesterday for a bowl workshop. Here is a shot of Ken making a hump molded square bowl. I first met Ken way back in 1989 while I was a student at Penland School and only remember him as the potter who had this huge kiln and made these really big wall pieces depicting canine/equine of some sort. Since then I have gotten to know Ken by working with him on the Spruce Pine Potter's Market, and most recently, the Potters of the Roan. He does amazing brushwork and fires his pots in a kiln that predates mine by about twenty years. As a matter of fact his kiln is poured castable just like mine. Ken encouraged Mark Peters to use castable refractories for his kiln and in turn Mark was the one that encouraged me to do the same. So there is the circle of influence here in Mitchell County, NC.
While I watched Ken make a couple of hump molded square bowls, it occurred to me that I have never seen Ken make his pots. It occurred to me how most of us work in isolation and how rare it is to have the time to visit and see one another working. It's by necessity that we venture out to visit our neighbor potters. Instead of borrowing sugar we may borrow a pound of Wollastonite, or a few cones, etc. It's a great community, but it's rare that we get to visit and watch one another work. It is more common to see each other at the grocery or hardware store. There are more potters in this area than I can list, let's just say a lot, mostly because of the proximity to the Penland School. It's not because of the availability of natural resources, as a potter would need 150 years ago. [Well, maybe for some, heheh. ] There are abundant glaze materials in the area. Most of the potters reading this may look at their bags of feldspar and see the source as Spruce Pine, NC.

[ramble...Back to Ken Sedberry]
Ken is one of those rare wood fired potters that works in a highly sophisticated way with surface design and wax resist. His work is colorful, too, another rarity among high fire wood burning potters. [more Sedberry work here]

We can learn so much, as potters, in just a few minutes watching each other work. So if you can, get out a visit a neighbor potter, better yet offer to wedge some clay! Not only would you be a helping hand, but you can see how they do their thing.
Maybe I should get over to Ken's!? I'd better call first...

XXIX

Michael Kline

Just a quick note before I take my "disco nap"! I lit the fire at 2:30 this morning and the firing is going really well, can't explain it. The wood is a little green and the potter a little weary, but as I was leaving Matt Kelleher in charge for a little while we had cone 1 going down! The kiln was getting real hungry. I think I can say that the responsiveness is do to diligent flame envelope enforcement (D.F.E.E., which means, I left a lot of room around the area surrounding the pots and the stack of shelves. ) Maybe too much room at the bottom of the kiln as it is tending to be ahead of the top of the kiln, (not good.) Generally I like to keep the top of the kiln a little ahead in temperayure so I don't have to damper in to get heat at the top, for fear of too much reduction. But today the smoke reading is pretty good. Up till now there has only been a handful of stokes that were really black and occluded. Most of the stokes yield a grayish brown smoke that isn't too thick. But there's plenty of time for that to change. Courtney is coming to help later this afternoon, so I better get my nap in, so that I can be ready to blast the kiln off. We should finish by dinner time, but I won't hold my breath. Anything can still happen.

28

Michael Kline

Mica Cain and Naomi Dalglish

I didn't have much time to be a photographer yesterday, but I managed to get Naomi and Mica to pose for a shot at the end of their working day. In a coincidental twist of fate M and N are both 28 and this happened to be the 28th firing of the kiln, and the 6th anniversary firing. I couldn't have done it without them.

Recap: The day began about 3 a.m. and I took it really slow, with all the green ware and all. Stacey came on at 5:30 and gave me a break that was supposed to be spent sleeping, but my daughters had a different plan. So i sent them up to the kiln to "help Mommy", and returned after a short nap. Mica came around 11 and Naomi came to help finish up at 5. The kiln responded really well to all of the adjustments, too numerous to include, and I can attribute that to dry wood and proper stacking. In the first year or two I would try to pack the kiln to the gills, but soon found the kiln to be stubborn and uncooperative. So I yielded to the kiln's needs to fire evenly ever since. Near the end of the firing, I tossed in 12 cylinders of salt. We checked the draw rings and concluded that that was enough. We'll see... on Thursday.