Get in touch!

Use the form on the right to contact Michael Kline!

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.

Thanks for visiting.

The Best of Sawdust and Dirt

A record of the goings on around Michael Kline Pottery!

Filtering by Tag: making

If At First You Don't Succeed , Then Try Again (and again)

Michael Kline

just thought I would share this post from my Facebook Page for those of you who don't subscribe to my FB Page.

 L-R, first attempt to fifth attempt

Sometimes I have an idea and it's seems so perfect and crystalline in my mind's eye. In this case I wanted to make the rope impression on the vertical surface of my tumbler form. But when the idea is taken to the clay it doesn't always work the first time, or the second, or the third time. But that's the inherent beauty of making pots, the pursuit in real time of the picture in one's mind. I have more work and problem solving to do to get there, but that's where the fun is. As Robert Earl Keen sings, "the road goes on forever and the party never ends".

Made with Care

Michael Kline

I promised myself not to make excuses for my 12x12 tardiness, because your time is valuable to me, but it has spurred some thoughts.

Time is our most precious commodities as creative people. It takes time to make our stuff. Yet time is something I give freely when asked. Whether it is an unannounced visitor to the shop, or email inquiry from a student, or a call from my daughter’s school, I most always stop what I’m doing and attend to these interruptions. I care, right? [I write, right?]

But what happens to my 12x12 rule, then? My commitment to making those 12 pots? Coming up short isn’t necessarily an epic fail. It’s a fail, for sure, but at the core of the rule is that I try. A good friend of mine once advised me as I was faced with a daunting task to just make it look as though someone cares. That thought has stayed with me many years. His idea was a kind of permission, a pressure valve, a prayer from judgment. It’s a concept that keeps us from the brink of giving up, of losing hope.

At the core, 12 x 12 is a motivation, an inspiration, to get our hands on our stuff, to make something. It’s a coach, it coaxes us to just do it . It’s the hope of a small goal leading to a large goal, which is, after all,  the important stuff, the stuff that might seem daunting by itself.

Years ago, my mother-in-law, Jackie, jokingly posed the question, “how do you eat an elephant?”

You might have heard this, before?

Her answer, after my dumbfounded expression and pause was, “One bite at a time.” [canned drum roll and apologies to all animal lovers, elephant lovers, vegetarians, vegans, et. al]

The point is, that by giving some kind of effort, things do get done. They may not always get done in a timely fashion, like high noon, but hopefully something comes out of trying. I tried to write 500 words a day back in January and was able to realize that a week was about as long as I could keep going, but it was a construct to led to really a meaningful experience for me.

As creative people we notice stuff, about the world around us and within ourselves because when we do, when we make stuff, it gives us satisfaction. Maybe joy? It gives us a footing in the world, it’s grounding.

Whether these objects embody that joy that comes from making is hard to know, but the important thing is that we care and we try. No judgement, no critique.

SO haters gonna hate, Time and attention police may scorn as there look at the time stamp on this picture, but here is my effort from this morning, All 13 made before and after 12 noon as several hurdles were thrown in their way. But those hurdles will be long forgotten in the hours, days, and weeks from now when these pots come out of a kiln and the pots succeed or fail in a far more important way.

I guess that’s my excuse, anyway.

[your thoughts are kindly welcome and sometimes needed. they motivate.]

Thanks for reading.

The Spin

Michael Kline

This started as a comment to Tracey Broome’s recent post on Branding. Hence the salutation and so on. But I got so long-winded that I thought I would spare her comment column and publish here. Basically I wanted to share some thoughts on branding and later some thoughts about business.

Hi Tracey, I hope you are well. Nice thoughts. I always enjoy reading your posts when I make the time to catch up with them! You have SO many thoughtful posts, a treasure trove! What about diving into some of your wonderful writing to pull together material that best describes who you are and what your intentions as an artist are? Pick out some themes that go to the core of who you are. What are the re occurring topics you write about that might allude to your “brand”?  I guess if I ventured over to the article you shared, I would find such a suggestion. :|

You also mention the reevaluation of your business strategy and I seem to be doing the same thing every year around this time, too. ;-) It’s something that we all do, I suppose. I think about it a lot, actually! As for me, I think I have too many irons in too many fires. But it's a condition of the times, I suppose. I’m always looking for an edge, an angle. Something shiny and new. I am forever hopeful! I guess it’s a way of fine tuning. One thought that has been coming on for a while this the concept of enjoying what we do. I wonder what would happen if I would cut out the experiences that I just don't enjoy and do more of what I DO enjoy?

Somehow I have made it this far and I wonder how. It hasn't been easy and I have come to the realization that I probably won't ever be wealthy beyond belief, but I can enjoy my work and be grateful to still be making pots after so many ups and downs in the various economies over the past 25 years. Making pots would be unbearable to me if I didn’t enjoy the activity. Maybe this is the clue to our marketing and business strategies. Joy? Sounds a little hokey, no?

I really enJOY doing our Cousins in Clay shows and other "home" sales where the setting is intimate. I truly enJOY meeting folks at my studio and selling directly out of my showroom. I also enJOY getting checks, big or small, from the few galleries that I still sell through and groups shows I am invited to. Teaching workshops has been a lot of fun! I love to travel and meet folks. With all that said, I feel like I still need to fine tune more and find better balance between all of these outlets. It's an ongoing process.


Is it possible to have a great time, enjoy what we make, AND enjoy some modicum of success? Maybe the first thing for each of us to do to brand or re brand, is to define success. What is enough? Can we be more aware of what we really enjoy doing and do MORE of whatever that is?

And can we give up what we don’t enjoy doing?

Seems a little simplistic, but I guess it's a start.