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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: pug mill

Slackin' Pottery Bum and Self/Studio Improvement

Michael Kline

As the saying goes, sometimes you just have to remount the horse. My 500 word a day goal must have short circuited the wiring in my bloghead. It appears that despite my best efforts to NOT make any New Year's resolutions, I swung for the fences (or the stars, or the tree tops), and imploded.

I guess I could play the weather card or the snow-day-kids-at-home-almost-all-month-card. But let me just play the January card. I read that several other potters seem to experience the same thing last month. Click here for one such story. But, in defense of getting (some) things done, for the January scorecard:

1. I  managed to make my yunomi for the annual AKAR Yunomi show and  Kyle Carpenter was kind enough to include them in his recent firing. Thanks KC!  Check out Kyle's beautiful pots that are now available for purchase.

2. After 6 years I finally have a supplementary heat source! I hooked up the propane heater in my studio with the help of my farming friend Ronnie B. This is a really big deal for me, especially in the month of January when it gets really cold and I'm not always in the studio to keep the wood stove going.  I can check that one off the punch list towards my official C.O. Now if I can just get my outdoor wiring redone I will give the inspector a call.

3. And finally, I have my Peter Pugger pug mill/extruder is back in working order, thanks to the Loafer's Glory Sandblaster and Spruce Pine's Superior Construction's fine welding! The pug mill repair was another one of those projects that seemed impossible. I mean, the thing is heavy! and although it has wheels it's not easy to get in the truck without help.

So I'm really happy to have it back. The soft reclaimed clay that I have been running through it is is like a high octane boost to my February pottery fuel tank. I've discussed this before and I think there are definitely two camps. There's the "reclaim your precious clay trimmings and scraps against all odds and all costs" camp and the "are you stupid, ain't nobody got time for that" (reclaim) camp.

I guess this old dog stands stubbornly and firmly in the former. There's just something really nice about that reclaim and it is a very old habit to break. I have missed that old Peter Pugger. Pugging my clay is part of my potter DNA or something. I just wasn't feeling 100% without it.

Check this page out. Don't you think mine looks a lot like this one? (aside from my paint job)

4. (Dis)Honorable Mention: almost forgot this rabbit hole.  I opened a can of worms with my need to compile the "FB Ceramic Index" thingy. If you haven't heard, in the past couple of weeks, I've put together a list of Facebook Pottery/Ceramics Pages. You, (yes you!) can check it for the latest by clicking on the tab at the top of this page  or here. ;) I personally wanted to have an easy way to track my favorite FB potters pages and thought there might be others like me. So i dug my teeth into some FB developer code and came up with this "beta" facebook Index.  The total list is at about 300 now and growing but I've only had time to list 10I'm not sure I will be able to keep up with the research or fairly curate it but I'll keep trying. Hopefully Scott can come to my rescue and help out with his mad developer skillz.

The current "Index" is a top 10 (w/ highest followers) FB Pages. It's a great way to find clay artists. More and more are coming in every day and I'll try to update every week on Saturday. It's a live updating kind of FB "blog roll" of sorts, kinda. Not really sure. I'm hoping to find time to curate different lists. I had a suggestion to Index university clay programs, for example. Any suggestions are welcome. It's a work in progress.

So, now here I sit, humbled and sheepishly tapping at the clickety clackety keys. Trying to get a feel for that writing thing while I should be chained to the wheel to get pots made for my upcoming foiring in about 10 days!

I just wanted to check in and let you know that I didn't fall off the face of the earth, it's just that January happened and I'm back, I hope. Now it's time to fall INTO the face of the earth and my Shimpo Scream. (not the actual brand name of my 1972 vintage pottery wheel, just the sound it kinda makes)

I love your comments and feedback, so let me know what's up.


Dirt Love

Michael Kline

Ooo I'm loving the new recipe I just ran through the pug mill! The addition of bentonite and sagger clay are making up for the red dirt's lack of plasticity and is throwing itself right out of the pugmill! Usually I don't use much of the clay until it's rested a day or two, but, likewise, I can never resist trying some right away.

The red dirt that I'm using was dug around Easter and has been sitting around mellowing . This afternoon I took the sun dried slop that I mixed the other night (fireclay, feldspar, sagger, bentonite) and ran it though the pug mill and then weighed it in six pound balls. Then I weighed six pound amounts of red dirt. Then I matched the two and threw them into the mill together. The other end of the mill produced a slightly marbled pug of gray and red. So I ran them through again to homogenize the two clays. Then I put the finished clay in some plastic totes.

Now, tonight, I'm making a few pots before calling it quits on the making side of things.

The bisque ware is piled up all over and I will get to setting up my painting area tomorrow.

While I am really loving this clay, I wouldn't mind being here or here this weekend. I wish all my potter friends at these events much success! Sell'em all!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Hustling Flow

Michael Kline

price debate

The evening started out with the NC Clay Club, who met at the Crimson Laurel Gallery in Bakersville. When I got there there was a lively discussion about pricing one's work. When I left there was still a lively discussion about pricing one's work. I guess we'll always debate that one. For an interesting discussion about pricing, see Ron Philbecks blog post, here.

I zipped back to the shop to work on finishing the pots and pugging clay to get clay ready for jugs and bottle and pitchers tomorrow! The clay in the picture below is my red dirt mix. I set it out to dry a little more in this way and will do another pugging in the a.m.

looks like a busy day tomorrow!

I'm feeling good about the clay, the pots, and the flow. It's been a good week and I hope to do some capping tomorrow. I also will try to start back on slab dishes that I have been wanting to make for a long time. Oh, ambition!

Ramping Up: A Feat of Epic Proportion (or stubbornness)

Michael Kline

Maybe it was a coincidence, but today, Nick Joerling came by to drop off some work we're taking up to D.C. for him. And I had the time to try to move the old Peter Pugger into the studio. Incidentally, I bought the Peter Pugger from Nick, back when I was a resident at Penland. But I failed to coerce Nick into helping out, Damn. So, as I checked the e-kiln and watched its slow climb in temperature, I had time to push, pull, and strain to get this heavy machine up the steps and into place. I tried chaining it to my truck with marginal success. The pug mill has two hard wheels, but it was almost impossible to move around on the gravel, hence the truck idea. I built a ramp out of 4 x 4's and scraps of plywood, boards, etc. and I can't tell you how much joy it brought me to use these little scraps of plywood and boards that most sane people would have burned or thrown out.

But I was still stumped on how to get the mill up the ramp. It's heavy! I felt that there must be some way I can get this up the ramp by myself, or with the truck!


I broke down and called Stacey to see if she could muscle it up the ramp with me. But she wasn't coming home for a while and I was growing impatient. I tried to think about simple physics, pulleys, winch, levers, hmmmm???

Then it came to me!! What i needed was another wheel! Duh! SO off I go to the hardware store to buy a caster for the front of the mill and made this third wheel.

What followed I don't have still images or video footage of, but first I tried to push this behemoth up the ramp and slipped a couple of times, but the adrenaline was coursing through my veins. Would I be pugging clay by the end of the day?? I stepped back and then had the sensible idea of pulling the mill up the ramp. So I pulled a chain around and through the frame and stepped up to the porch to try to pull. I was able to get the thing rolling up the ramp with all my might. But then I had to let go of one hand to re-grab the chain as I pulled it toward me. Could I do it, should I do it?? (this is where a soundtrack would come in real handy) You must be thinking that I have lost my mind, by now??

Well as you can see from the pictures below, (you'll have to take my triumphant word for it), I got the mill up to the porch level, and easily rolled it into the studio. But then I realized that I one more feat to perform. The final ramping up onto the platform that the mill sits on. No problem, thought I. And for once I was right. Just a simple ramp made with ware boards and the ubiquitous scrap pieces of 2 x 4 and 2 x 6! With a rolling start I rolled the mill into place and plugged her/him in.

The rest of the story is history. I mixed a batch of very, very sandy reclaim clay to run through to attempt to get some of the flakes of rust out, before i run my "good" clay through.

AHHH. Now I'm ready to turn some pottery!


Michael Kline

Spent most of the day running errands. I managed to pack the pots I'm sending to the Mudfire Potters of The Roan Show opening in April. There will be a 2 gallon jar among some plates, platters, some big cups, and yunomis.

Speaking of yunomis, the AKAR yunomi show opens in the morning. I hope you will see the show and get to buy some of the great pots the show promises to have. Some of the cups profits will go to the Studio Potter magazine. They are recommending that you register so that your purchases can be expedited without delay. The show sold out pretty quickly last year as I remember, so log on early. I think the show goes live at about 10a.m. EST. I have a few more yunomi that I didn't ship that I hope to post on etsy very soon. I'll let you know when I do that.

My friend Buck was over this evening to wire up the pug mill, mixer, and kiln. Hopefully, soon we'll be hearing the roar of the Paoli mixing up some fresh red dirt. I've been limping along with reclaim and previously frozen clay that has taken a lot of time to reprocess. Maybe now I'll have no excuses to crank those pots out. Let's hope...