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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: pugging clay

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

Packing and Pugging

Michael Kline

stacey surveying the roadside damage

What do you say when you walk through your yard and you realize there has been a car accident, come and gone? Stacey was the first to see four hemlocks that were "felled" by the apparent accident. We found out that there had been a car that had run off the road damaging the row of hemlocks near our pond while we were away for a couple of hours that Saturday evening. The State Patrol claimed that the trees were within the State DOT right of way and so no insurance claim could or would be made. Wow! No note. no nothing. Just a big mess to be cleaned up.

Around here if a large tree falls into the road after a storm you bet there will be some chain saws buzzing away no doubt from the DOT "call list" of boys with saws, trucks, and wood stoves. But in this case four eight inch (in diam) hemlocks didn't warrant the DOT to have this sight cleaned up. Broken glass, plastic BMW parts, a rear view mirror all left behind.

They could have at least left a note.

OK, now that that rant is off my chest I can move on to the news of the day!

Toni Campanella is back from Cleveland for some summertime fun at Penland and here to work at the pottery. First off, we packed a bunch of pottery that was waiting to get out into the world. Some pots went to Dow Studio in Deer Isle, Maine! So look out Down Easters for some southeastern pottery! Better late than never...Another is on its way to the Ohio University wood fire conference, in Athens Ohio. Check out the blog that Bryce is keeping to highlight the events there.
We also pugged some of the clay that was ready and left some that was just too damn soft. I tended to the plates I threw the other day and tried to fashion a new wire tool after my Mudtools wire broke. I've been trying to pay special attention to the handling (cutting off, flipping) of the plates and hoping to get less warping this time around. I had cut the plates off after they were thrown, but they had to be cut again. It was asking a lot for the wire to go through the drier plates. I'll try to blog about the repair of that Mudtool wire tool, because it is possible. But if you want to buy me a new one that would save me from myself!


Filling the Table, Filling the Kiln

Michael Kline

These are about 16-18" in dia. (40.6 -45.7 cm).
I used about 16 lbs(7.3 kg) per bowl.

All I can say is that if there is plenty of clay I can turn it into pots. It seems like such a simple factor in one's production. Having just pugged the clay, I pulled off a pile of pugs, versus opening a bunch of plastic bags. I can't tell you the difference in mixing your own clay versus commercial clay. It's not for everyone and it probably doesn't compare if you add up time, equipment needed, etc. But it makes me excited to make pots and that is probably the single most important factor in any good work! But how do we quantify that?

Session 32 Begins!

Michael Kline

It's been a very rainy summer here in the mountains, and at the end of August there is a slight mildew-y odor in the morning air. A lush carpet of grass in my yard has been impossible to keep up with but the rain has made for a beautiful bouquet on the hydrangea my mother gave us about three years ago. This bush was literally a foot long stick when it was planted. I think it likes this spot because it gets a lot of sun and the drain field of our septic system feeds it daily!

My lumber mill connection, Milan Street has been by three times now, and I've got my work cut out for a while. In this photo you are looking at 2/3rd's of the total amount needed to be cut. This is enough wood to fuel my kiln for the next year and probably enough cut off's that I can heat the shop. The key for me is to get it cut and stacked so that I can use it as soon as next month. I cut a pickup truck load of wood this evening and will try to cut every day.

This afternoon I pugged about 600 lbs of reclaim from the last session in the shop. I managed to throw a few plates after supper tonight. Most sessions begin with a whisper, with a few pots here and there, a loosening up of a distant memory I have of the wet process of throwing pots. Towards the end of a session, it's a juggling act of throwing painting, glazing, and firing the kiln. After the firing, there is a period of commerce, a distribution of the results.

With the Etsy online sale a success, and the pots shipped out, I re-focus on the excitement of wet clay. It's good to feel that the wheel is turning, and I'm excited about this 32nd firing. What will emerge from the intensity of focus in the coming weeks? Seems like I've done this a few times before but the results can't be predicted.

Tomorrow I head over the mountain to my home state of Tennessee to get my wisdom teeth pulled out. Fun! I'm not sure what kind of shape I'll be in to throw pots or cut wood, but this is a start and that's a lot for now.

I hope that I can recapture some momentum here at the blog after an eventful summer of regular visits to Penland, crazy weekly schedules, vacation, etc. Hope you'll be along and I hope you'll join in with a comment from time to time. It's always nice to hear from you!