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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: how to

Capping and Throwing a Big Jar

Michael Kline

Today I made jugs. (or maybe you call them bottles?)

Anyway, it made me think of one of my favorite posts from the early blog days of 2007. I still make pots in the same way, except the cordless headphones are long since gone and I don’t have the ball opener installed (yet). ;-) [See original post here.]

Enjoy. If you have questions or comments, leave a comment, below. ;-) I would love to answer them!

thanks, Michael

Here are the tools on my bench...

Centering about 8 lbs of home clay

Opening the bottom with a ball opener/bottom maker.

Here I open the bottom of the pot with ball opener in my left hand and sponge in my right hand. I forgot to take off my geeky wireless headphones for the photo shoot!?#@!

I am measuring the bottom section to match it to the previously thrown cap. I usually throw the cap ever so slightly smaller than the bottom section.

Here I am adding the "cap" that I actually made before I threw the bottom section. I measured the cap before I took it off the wheel with my calipers, then set it aside. The cap is slightly smaller than the bottom section. One advantage to capping is that the clay is still wet and can still be stretched and thrown. The other advantage is that the torque in the clay, or the throwing lines are in the same direction in both sections.

The two sections are "welded" together. With my left(inside) hand I move at the same time as the right (outside) hand and in the opposite direction.

Then I make the opposite move with the weld. This "cancels out" the marks so that when the pot is turned you don't get caught in the ruts of any makes you have made.

The section is ribbed and thrown.

After the sections are thrown together and consistent, the rim is measured for the next cap.

A new cap is thrown. The cap has no bottom and the ball opener rides on the wheel head.

Measuring the cap. Throw the cap wider at the base then you think you may need. Its always easier to narrow than widen. When I cut the cap off, and set aside I always make the table wet so the cap doesn't stick to the table when I need to lift and put into place later.

The cap is set in place. I really don't score the sections, but I make sure that the section below is scraped of slurry.

The second cap is thrown into place and the rim is set.

The whole pot is ribbed and thrown into shape. At some point I rib from the inside only , but I find that the "line" of the pot looks stronger if you can thrown the shape in rather than just ribbing it. I didn't photograph the 5 inch stand that I have to get up on while doing these final reaches for the bottom. Also either roll your sleeves up or wear a cut off shirt and mind your apron. These can snag your pot and ruin it.

Here we see our geeky potter hamming it up after the work is done. Handles will go on the jar in the morning.

Guest Blogger: Rob Haugen

Michael Kline

Installing a New Electric Kiln – Part 2

Electrical Safety and Requirements

In Part 1 of Installing a New Kiln, we discussed how to properly place the kiln and ensure that once it’s operational, it’ll be safe. Proper placement away from walls (at least 12 inches) and ventilation are crucial to safely operating a kiln. In this article, we’re going to look at power supplies, outlets, and energy to make sure that the kiln is able to function properly and at its full capacity. 

Adequate amperage and voltage must be supplied to the kiln to ensure proper function. The last thing you want is your new kiln blowing fuses and tripping the breaker so make sure that you’re equipped to handle the power the kiln needs to work. Once you receive the kiln, check the nameplate for the power specs. Depending on the type of kiln, you may be operating a 240 volt, single-phase model, a commercial grade kiln that may be wired for 240, 208, 380, or 480 volts at single or three-phase, or a 120 volt electric kiln that can be plugged into a standard outlet. No matter what you should always check the wiring and breaker to ensure that your kiln will operate fully and safely. Most commercial grade kilns require direct wiring and outlets so the assistance of an electrician may be needed.

 (Please review the wiring specifications and wiring charts for the kiln you intend to purchase.) 

 Once the proper electrical outlet has been established, plug the kiln in but make sure that there is enough space between the outlet and the kiln for you to move behind it. In the event that you need to unplug the kiln to service it, or for any other reason, you need easy access. Do not stretch the cord but make sure that there is room to plug in and unplug the kiln without touching the metal jacket.

By design, kilns generate an immense amount of heat and depending on the size and type, temperatures can range anywhere from 1600 degrees to 2300 degrees Fahrenheit. Because of the high heat factor, the best surface to place the kiln on is cement. Other surfaces, like linoleum, may be damaged so cement is the best option. Also, keep the electronic controller within easy reach for heat adjustments and proper control of the kiln.

If you’ve decided that outside the home or studio is the best place for the kiln, that’s great too. Just make sure that moisture doesn’t get into the kiln. Rust is a factor, so if your kiln is outside make sure that it’s properly covered and protected from the elements when not in use. Now the kiln is installed, plugged in, and safe to operate.

So let’s get firing!!

Rob Haugen grew up with Olympic Kilns, following in his father's footsteps by providing electric, gas, and glass kilns. He works tirelessly everyday cultivating a deeper understanding of the ceramics industry and developing the Olympic Kilns.  Come by Booth #424 at NCECA and see the complete line of Olympic Kilns.