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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: mugs

First Out

Michael Kline

before the extraction

before the extraction

The adventure of fire continues tonight while during the 23rd firing of my gas kiln a mug fell from the fire wall into the fire box right in front of the burner.  I apologize for the pottery jargon. Let me briefly explain. The fire wall, aka, “bag wall” is a short wall of bricks that separate the stacks of pots from the “fire box”. The firebox is an area where the fuel is combusting, whether it be wood, or gas.

OK, so I decided to try to extract the pot by the handle and had to reheat the mug so it would release from it’s newly bonded surface of the kiln floor. You see, the kiln and the pots at 2400°F are sticky because of the soda glaze that coats everything in its path. I wasn’t able to move the mug because the firing was over and the molten union of mug and firebox floor had already solidified. So I reignited that burner and slowly, carefully reheated the mug. After about 10 minutes, the pot was glowing red (again) and I was able to pry it off the floor. Wow, I was super excited that it seemed to be in one piece despite its fall to the floor from about 15”. When ceramics is fired and at a temp of 2300-2400 degrees, its in a state known as pyroplasticity. I suppose the mug was more like a rubber ball than the dense ceramic object we all know after a pot has cooled. I can’t think of a better way to describe my theory.

After using a steel rod that I use to pull draw rings out of the kiln during the firing, I moved the burner aside and lifted the mug out of the kiln and laid it in a nest of leaves that were nearby, just like you would do if you were doing a rake firing, right? 😁


I covered the hot mug with more leaves and a clay sagger. It smoked quite a bit and then I heard a loud crack and thought to myself that the mug must’ve just popped, being in a thermal “shock”.

Sagger smoking

Sagger smoking

I couldn’t wait to see the mug even though it might be ruined, there was no turning back.

But, by some kind of ceramic miracle, it came out fine, with just a couple of rough spots from its landing on the floor of the kiln.

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.

Pots & Chores

Michael Kline

I finally finished my pots yesterday after slacking with other things and I needed a little warm up to my brushwork ahead and
painted a bunch of invitations to the studio tour coming up on December 3, 4, 5! Are you on my mailing list? [sign up here]

I also cut some wood that is too big/wide to stoke in the wood kiln, but makes nice heat for the house and studio. Nothing is wasted here! Unfortunately this makes for a lot of various pile of wood around the kiln yard. But I developed a pretty quick way of cutting and stacking.

I'll be deco-rotating the pots for the next few day until I haul them over the hill to load with Courtney next week. I will send images of some of the motifs that emerge from the session.
Digg Button

Have a great weekend.


Michael Kline

Tonight, I celebrate little victories here at the pottery. After taking a few days off to travel to Seagrove and visit with the cousins, I got back in the shop to...... make pots? NO! More carpentry, of course. I've been wanting to build a new and more roomy ware rack to handle all the all pots I work on during a firing session.

handy for drying towels, too!

Here it is in all of it's glory. It's moderately stable. Just needs some lateral support. Perhaps I'll add some ceiling support. After some adjustments to the depth, it works relatively well. (Just needs more pots!) I'm planning on a rack to handle smaller pots next door to this one, maybe next week when I get the urge to taste more piney sawdust.


After shoveling some snow this afternoon, I made it up to the shop to start a fire in the wood stove and get going on some pots. Something, anything! So it was a board of mugs.

I don't know about you, but I'm always interested in the origins of phrases, sayings, figures of speech. Especially if it's something to do with pottery making. So, where did the term mug shot originate? Follow this weak link and decide for yourself. If anybody has a better origin, please comment to the effect. These mugs certainly take on the characteristics of faces. At least in my eyes. Do you see? In Catawba Valley pottery traditions, handles were often called "ears". I've never heard of handles being referred to as noses, but that's what I'm seeing in these pictures.

Come Sunday, these mugs will get dipped in some kaolin slip and get combed.

Tune in tomorrow for that and hopefully I'll have my Seagrove/Cousins post edited and ready for your consumption. Bottoms up.