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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: humor

Simon: From the Floor

Michael Kline

Simon here reporting from the floor of the National Clay conference, and I have to say I am disappointed.

First of all I have searched everywhere for that damn press room, looking for the free donuts, weak coffee and large sweaty men hunched over typewriters banging out fervent opinions. You would think there would be some perks to having this pass.

Second, I went to some K-12 exhibition and I have to say the work was pretty juvenile. I mean sculptures of dragons, c'mon, are you in high-school or something? I did find it interesting that the curators of the show assessed the quality of the work; although I can’t say I agree with their aesthetic. Some of the work ranked as Grade 1 seemed as though the artists were still struggling with their fine motor control. At this national level, I expect more.

And third I was really excited to go to a talk this morning. I really enjoy talking. And though they called it a talk it was no such thing. These two guys went on and on for almost an hour. The whole experience was like when your parents want to "talk” and it’s not really a talk, they don't want to hear what you have to say. It was almost like being lectured. I had the hardest time shutting out the constant yammering, thank goodness for my smart-phone or I would have never survived all the words these guys were throwing at me. The hour wasn't a total loss though; I got past level 3-5 in Angry Birds. It does appear that jumping up and cheering my own fowl-flinging prowess is frowned upon during these "talks".

The conference isn't that bad, though, nothing a few dozen free donuts won't fix.

-Simon Says.

Simon Levin is a regular contributor to Sawdust and Dirt. He lives and makes pots in Gresham, WI. When Simon is not making or firing pots, fighting fires, or caring for his lovely family, he is creating such wonders as WikiClay! To find out more about Simon Levin and his pottery go to If you have questions for Simon he can be reached at otherwise please leave comments for Simon here!

Simon Says: NCECA Prep

Michael Kline

As we pulled onto the highway headed for NCECA it occurred to me that finally I am one of the merging artists this year. Much thought and preparation has gone into this year’s trip. My bag is filled with swag and I have honed some techniques to make my NCECA experience the best it can be. Let me share with you some of the helpful tools I plan to employ.

The over the shoulder crowd survey
This is a common tool used by those who want to make the most of their time. When catching up with an old friend make sure you keep looking over his or her shoulder for someone else with more status. Perhaps someone well known that you would like to be seen talking to, or someone whose ego you would like to massage hoping they can give your career a boost. Never be afraid to trade up, NCECA will soon be over.

 Make sure you have your “I don’t remember you but want to seem like I do” phrases ready.

You will need these. Let me share a few that imply varying degrees of false intimacy.

  • “Heeeeyyyyyyy”. Draw this one out, the less you remember the person the longer this greeting should be. It may give you time to recollect and the lag time suggests pleasure and enthusiasm at seeing this stranger.
  •  “Wow, you have lost weight”. Always a good way to go, unless they are a recent amputee.
  •  “Did that rash ever clear up”?
  •  “I always enjoy your status updates on Facebook”.
  •  “What ever happened with that paternity test”. Note: This is fine to ask women as well as men.
  • “Got that $20 you owe me?” You never know, and if you insist enough you can always settle and let them buy you lunch.

 At NCECA be prepared to see some crappy work.

 You must be armed with vaguely upbeat but non-committal comments that suggest interest but cover your dismay, disgust or nausea. Here are a few.

  •  Interesting
  •  Look at that!
  •  You price your work way too cheap.
  •  That ‘s bold!
  •  How much time did you spend on that?
  •  I have never seen work like this.
  •  I admire your courage to present work like this.
  •  Now that’s a handle!
  •  I didn’t think it could be done, but you have ruined dirt.
  •  How many poo-flinging monkeys helped you with this?
  •  You have raised the bar for craptastic work everywhere.

And finally you will find yourself in deep and meaningful conversations that you cannot wait to get away from.

 In these situations you will need a few polite ways to excuse yourself immediately. Feel free to use any of these:

  • What time is it? Oh man I need to run.
  • Oh there goes my ride.
  • I am sorry but there is a lecture I really want to hear. (This one is hard to make sound truthful, I mean, holy cow, people talk so much at NCECA. Really how much can you say about dirt. I’d probably listen more if it was about me or Jersey Shore.)
It is always better if you can subtly make them want to end the conversation allowing you to leave still seeming interested in them as a person. So for the more advanced NCECA attendee try these:
  • Do you have $50 bucks I can borrow?
  • The infection is highly contagious; do you have any lip balm I can borrow?
  • Whoops there goes my Irritable Bowell Syndrome
  • Do you have any crack on you?
  • My therapist says I am due for a beserker rage any day now.
Anyway I am looking forward to my time at NCECA this year. You will find me looking over the shoulder of one of my nearest and dearest friends.

Simon Levin is an irregular contributor to Sawdust and Dirt. He lives and makes pots in Gresham, WI. When Simon is not making or firing pots, fighting fires, or caring for his lovely family, he is creating such wonders as WikiClay! To find out more about Simon Levin and his pottery go to


Michael Kline

Simon Levin is a regular contributor to Sawdust and Dirt. He lives and makes pots in Gresham, WI. When Simon is not making or firing pots, fighting fires, or caring for his lovely family, he is creating such wonders as WikiClay! To find out more about Simon Levin and his pottery go to If you have questions for Simon he can be reached at otherwise please leave comments for Simon here!

Big Money in Crafts?

Michael Kline

Thanks to Patti Jensen over at our Chamber of Commerce for sharing a story about our crafts "industry" in Western NC in their recent newsletter! With all the talk about billions and trillions in the news lately, and the visual aids to help us conceive of that amount, I was a little unimpressed reading about the mere 'millions' generated by our little cottage industry. Especially since every other street or road in Mitchell County sports a shingle from some crafter or another. Surely we can do better. Come on people of Craft!
A highlight of the report is the recognition that the number of artisans in our region has increased 198 % since the original study. In the 13 years between 1995 and 2008, the number of professional art and craft producers rose from 739 to 2,200.
Maybe I should get into craft studio real estate?

Getting Pumped Up

Michael Kline

I finally caught up on all of the blogs that I fell behind on over the weekend. I've been also catching up on all the sleep I've passed up on in the last three weeks. At my age, I am realizing that I can't work all the time. Nor do I want to. It's all work no play, and I am becoming very dull.

So before I go to Arrowmont for the fifth Utilitarian Clay: Celebrate The Object on Wednesday, I'm getting all the sleep I possibly can. After all, it's "show time" and who wants to see me fumble my demos, etc?? So, just briefly I wanted to go through my list with you all to make sure I'm not forgetting anything.

***broken camera
***armpit pads
***knee brace
***set lists
***a couple of tasteful jokes
***the usual self deprecating jokes
***sponsor banners to put behind my wheel to fulfill endorsement contracts
***sunglasses for flash photographers and bright stage lights
***Grecian Formula (for all of those folks who haven't seen me in a while)
***a couple of sharpies for autographs
***back stage passes for entourage
***stop by Nick J's for some Red Bull
***membership card to Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum
So much for traveling light! I guess we are going to have to take the tour bus(again) ! Phew, the gas is going to kill the budget.


Wood and Clay

Michael Kline

Many thoughts went through my head today as I cleaned up the wood yard. Like how am I going to make the pots, stack the wood, clean the shelves, etc. It reminded me of a riddle my mother-in law Jackie asked me once. Question: "How do you eat an elephant?"
Answer: "One bite at a time." It's metaphorical, of course, I wouldn't go out and try it if I were you!?!

I got my trimming tools confused! (for Craig)

Comments and Disqus

Michael Kline

It's always an unsettling feeling when a fire arm is posted on the blog, but I thought this was pretty funny although maybe a little bit too forceful an image, but related to this post.

I switched to Disqus a while back with hopes that any conversation that began in the 'comment' section could continue, but there seems to be a hang up. I have been told by the Disqus people that commenters have to register with Disqus and claim your identity! I know, "not another password"??? I understand. But for those brave techno souls out there that would be willing to sign up, I might be able to help if you can help me figure this out.

If you register to comment on this blog you will be eligible for a piece of my pottery from the next firing. So let me know how it goes, leave a comment letting me that you have claimed your identity. You can even upload a picture of your smiling face or any such image that will display every time you comment.

Here's what you need to do to enter the drawing:
Click the comment button below this post.
Go to the comment box and leave a comment, something witty, something funny, anything, express your opinion.
Click the "register" button and fill in info. Email won't be seen on blog comment.
If all goes well, you will be eligible to win the pottery and your voice will be heard.
I will announce a drawing after the next firing, facilitated by an impartial/unbiased employee here at the pottery (who isn't eligible to win)

Don't be a stranger.


Michael Kline

Here are some things Woody Allen has said about making pottery:

I don't want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it through not dying.

I was nauseous and tingly all over. I was either in love or I had smallpox.

If you're not failing every now and again, it's a sign you're not doing anything very innovative.

Most of the time I don't have much fun. The rest of the time I don't have any fun at all.

Confidence is what you have before you understand the problem.

Life is full of misery, loneliness, and suffering - and it's all over much too soon.

Eighty percent of success in [the studio] is showing up.