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: slip

Contrasts and Scale

Michael Kline

Freshly slipped pots this afternoon.

The jar to the right was dipped in the bucket by holding the pot by the slightly out-turned bottom. The bottle on the left was covered with slip with a rectangular piece of foam rubber. I used a combination of squeezing the slip out and swiping through it.

But scale has its limitations or at least scale dictates the tools and suggests the approach. For example, if the piece is too wide for the container of slip, I pour the slip over the pot. Sometimes the pot is too heavy to grip by the foot, as in this case. Most pots that are easily handle-able, are dispatched by dipping.

I don't exactly know my motivations for not just setting up a way to pour the slip, and alternately grabbing the sponge to apply the slip, but in the first moments of squeezing the slip out and swiping I knew that I wanted to continue.

Ah, spontaneity!

The mark-making with the sponge seemed appropriately scaled for the bottle but I wonder how it will work on a smaller scale? Maybe a different sized sponge? I would have tried, but I'm out of pots for the time being. Time to make more and see!

Stay tuned,  "Watch this space!"

More Comb and Rope

Michael Kline

See this image on Instagram-
previously seen on Instagram

Last night I attacked a table full of plastic, several days of 12's, and finally trimmed these little cups as well as bowls and  plates. I practically ran to my bucket of #6 Tile slip to dunk these. You might call it March madness!

This week is off to a snowy, no-school start, but it feels like it might be a explosively productive one! We'll see!


Michael Kline

Hello folks, I'm currently juggling slide presentations, video editing of some upcoming POTR videos,
writing  programs for upcoming workshops, and trying to slowly get some pots made for the March firing. Maybe this is the new reality for a potter? At least it is for me.

Do YOU find yourself and your life filled to the gills with stuff to do?

Epiphany: After being ridden to my bed last week with the flu, I have come out on the other side with a fresh outlook and a new vigor to get  more focussed on the work to be done in and around the studio. It's a little early for spring cleaning, but I have decided to get outside for a little while any day that it was not raining or stormy, to work on the grounds, get some vitamin D, and make studio/kiln the beautiful destination it is for my visitors. 

combed kaolin slip
Get outside when you can and take a deep breath of air. 

A Summer Day

Michael Kline

 Some say that I'm a lucky guy.  I would agree. Making pots for a living is a pretty sweet life. Although there are those days that I second guess the vocation that has chosen me and think about the greener grass on the other side. But mostly, when I can make some pots, visit some friends and spend time outside working, I'm pleased.

Today was pretty leisurely, but I made some pots, (oddly undocumented in this photo series) saw some beautiful pots at Michael and Naomi's home sale, and mowed some of the field outside the house. The evening, after supper is when I get my exercise swinging the scythe. It's really my favorite time of the day. When the house still holds the day's hot, the field is a great place to be. The sky changes every time I pause to strop the blade and I take in deep breathes and note of the drama of clouds, the color of "pink o'clock". It's always a good workout and satisfying to see the freshly evened grass of the field.

I think to myself, as I topple the goldenrod and blackberry, that I am somehow rescueing the grass.  That someday goats or cows will thank me.

Randomness and A Giveaway

Michael Kline

Here are some tankards that I poured slip over, leaving some random bare clay between pours. This may be a case of necessity as the muse.

My bucket of slip wasn't quite deep enough for the full dip and I opted to pour. My reaction was really positive after seeing the pattern created from the missed areas. I've done this before, and I know a lot of folks who do this as well. Kyle Carpenter does a nice job of this kind of pour.

What do you think of these?

Leave a comment and qualify for this week's $20 gift certificate! The drawing will be held this weekend if I can get Evelyn and Lillian to do their thing! That should be the easiest thing I've done all week!


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

eKiln II Brief

Michael Kline

I ask for your pardon if I don't elaborate on the painting session in preparation for today's eKiln firing. There's much to do . Here, for the record, are some highlights with coded deco-descriptions. I'm plugged in and ready to dial it up. I'll be watching that pyrometer and reading that meter!

Pictures of Porcelain

Michael Kline

These pictures aren't the best. I hesitated to post these, but what the hell, it's been par for the course. It's no surprise that this segment of the process would be another steep learning curve. In this case the camera was having trouble focusing on the white, I think. Has anyone had trouble with auto-focus on white? I tried years ago to photograph an Alleghany Meadows bowl that had a subtle white semi matte glaze. I had to get another camera! My Nikon would NOT focus!
Looking at these pictures, though, is very revealing, showing black slip details as well as glaze details. Let me know what you think. Let's crowd source!

I'll take some more pictures after the next firing. More porcelain painting Friday as well as more plates in the home clay!

Good night to all of the night owls still up reading this and good morning to my friends in the British Isles!

I See Red

Michael Kline

After a busy admin morning working on a web site I headed up the hill to chase down some plastic and managed to finish my cups and plates that I'm making for the Spruce Pine Montessori School. Even though our kids are in public school now I wanted to help out Mary Wray's class with their literary tea. So I made these pots for this years new students. I had wanted to get them done earlier in the school year, but hopefully they will be painting them next week and I can fire them and have them back in time for Faulkner, Agee, or Yeats, or...

before and after the slip n spin n comb!
Can anyone tell that I'm using Stan Andersen's red earthenware!?!? (Look out ,Ron) It does look a lot like my red dirt stoneware, but so much smoother. Because of its ultra smoothness (compared to my gritty dirt clay) I was thinking the whole time about this being a transition to some porcelain that I plan to unveil for the holiday online sale. I just hope I can get to spinning that soon! Meanwhile it's on to the stoneware and finishing up my making list for the upcoming shared wood firing up the road at Courtney's.

Patterns 'n' Plates

Michael Kline

Painting plates as the Chilean miners are being rescued! The orange painted areas in the image above is a wax resist that is tinted with orange ink. Then a thin wash of black slip was brushed over the resist.

We'll load the kiln over at Courtney's on Thursday! Here are some more pictures.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Michael Kline

It wasn't exactly a 12 x 12 kind of day, but in the end I handled a bunch of pottery! I loaded a couple of sinks into the biscuit box and two others into the dryer/de-humid-if-I box! I went really slow and found myself hanging with the "three o'clock club" waiting for my computer-free kiln to finish. Like most of the equipment I use to make my pots, the e-kiln is pretty old and decrepit. The kiln sitter can't be trusted!

So I made a bunch of square edge platters in the wee hours.

I've been using, not one, but two throwing buckets! I can't say enough about the two bucket reach as I dip for water as I center! I understand that most people don't throw standing up (you should) and that most people have little room for throwing tools, much less a second bucket. Just sayin'. Set up your stage!

OK, then!

I promise the following very soon:

  • a new blog post by guest potter/blogger Don Pilcher
  • sink tutorial
  • report from Penland
  • report from Somerville
Keep on folks. I'll be back soon!

Follow on Twitter if you need more info while I'm away from the desk!

Need bonus features? Gettim!

Later yall!

A Week In Review (incomplete)

Michael Kline

Where does one start to remember all the crazy stuff that's happened in the last week? I've looked over the pictures that serve my memory and they just don't seem sufficient, but that's what I have for now. It's been HOT, of course, and the hay was cut and some of it baled by my neighbors, Larry and Robert. It was a dusty mess, for the grass was already pretty dry before it was cut. But it was nice to see the landscape minus the forage.

Speaking of cutting, my summer helper, Antonia Campenella, came by Wednesday to get the wood cut for XXXVI and learned more than she probably wanted to know about my wood cutting and stacking technique! We don't quite have enough for the firing, so I guess I'll have to send her over to Courtney's to steal some wood, while Courtney and John are in Japan! [heh,heh, heh...] Dohh! I forgot that Courtney might be reading this...just kidding CM ;-)
After a day of hot sweaty wood cutting, I got together with Buck and John for some demolition and reconstruction of this-here fine shed! You might remember John and Buck from their heroic and sneaky efforts in finally getting siding on the shop back in June. Well, the tres sneequi amigos were back at it! This time we stole Nick Joerling's old shed while he was teaching a workshop at the Bascom! We rebuilt it that afternoon in the field just below the shop in the blazing heat and dust of the hay baler! Don't worry, Nick has visitation rights and is even welcome to camp out in it for old time's sake. Rumour has it that this was actually Nick's first home when he moved to Penland in 1986!

Here's a non sequitur.

How fast did it take for the term "pots in action" to become a cliché household word in these pottery blogs? Here are a couple that I captured in the "act" of being pots. The above shows two "cousins of clay" performing their all-important duty of laying down the sour of the orange juice just to enhance the bitter roastiness of the fresh brewed coffee. One of my favorite combinations, cousins, citrus, and coffee!

Here's another clever product placement, er, I mean, pot in action. This time the actors are cousins of another kind. A glass pitcher by my friend, Kenny Pieper, and one of my ceramic yunomi, sweating it out during supper at the picnic table. Although similar processes there is one material difference between glass and clay. Clay is obviously more mysterious and infinitely more subtle, whereas glass is immediately recognized in its transparency and glare. [ed. huh? it must be late]

Meanwhile back at the pot shop...I thought the slip poured on this pot left a nice negative space! So, what does a potter blogger feel compelled to do? Snap a dozen pictures just to capture the mood and sensation of the moment!
Here are a few more moments, captured and condensed into two pictures showing a process of pouring slip onto these vases. It was fun.

I really like these vases/bottles. You can't tell from the pictures, but they're kinda clunky [read:heavy] and the variety and evolution of the forms as I made them was a little bitty thrill for me. Some of them got the Hack-at-me treatment with a big honkin' wisk broom through the Tile 6 slip.
And last but not least, I needed a jar to put money in for the self service showroom and found this derelict jar that had a big crack in it's bottom and side from a freeze this past winter. Just before I taped a note to it I thought it might be nicer just to paint these nice icons of denomination on the jar with my sumi-e ink!

[Look out for some of these motifs ($ and ¢, perhaps others) to show up on some pots in the next firing...]

Well, like I said, many more thoughts went through my mind this past week but very few can I remember at this moment. You'll just have to take my word for it. I've got to get back to a regular schedule of blogging, while those salient thoughts are fresh in my head.

Coming up:
  • a new blog post by Don Pilcher!
  • a post about the sinks
  • 300th follower! Will it be you?
  • more pots in action, of course!
  • salty thoughts
Thanks for reading.

Friday News Roundup

Michael Kline

;-( 's or upside down ;-)'s

It's been a busy, busy week and a general whirl wind since my last firing (exactly a month ago!! 3/22), but everything looks good and just because I see a bunch of frowns on these jars, things are OK. Here are a few pictures taken by "my staff" to cover some of the highlights yesterday!

preparing to pour slip

coat of kaolin slip

awaiting bisque firing
drying in the pleasant breeze

Tomorrow is the "Fire on the the Mountain Blacksmith Festival" in Spruce Pine. An event that Stacey will be overseeing, so that means that I'll be taking care of the girls all day! Yay! Maybe they'll make some wads, clean some kiln shelves, or stack some wood while I finish up my pots?

;-( Lillian) ;-( Evelyn)

Aprés Bandana

Michael Kline

Stacey is cooking up some fine victuals for dinner tonight, which we will share with Naomi and Michael, just over the hill. I can't wait to get over there to see their newborn baby girl, Miriam! I've been so busy I haven't been able to get over there to visit with them, shame, shame.

While I'm there I may have a chance to compare my notes on the "cover" of their hump molded dish that has been so fascinating by these last couple of weeks. Like all things that appear simple at first glance, there are levels of complexity in this form that have been very challenging/vexing to me. Here is a short series showing how I decorated a few.

First I poured a little kaolin slip on the slabs.

Then I pushed the slip around the slab to get an interesting coverage.

I combed the patterns with my handy-dandy tricked out Mudtools rib.
I plan on painting a pattern over this, so I kept the pattern simple.

Here are the dishes after they were molded.
See this post to get an idea what the mold looks like.
Michael and Naomi do a very similar pattern,
but use their fingers to wipe through the slip.

Here are the dishes drying out yesterday over the wood stove.
They're in the bisque kiln today!

I'll try to get some pictures (I promise!) on here of the brushwork that I'm doing.


Michael Kline

When I came in the shop this morning and went to the wheel to throw I noticed the layering of earthenware clay and white slip from yesterday's slip spray had marbleized very nicely. So I snapped this picture being the resident shutterbug.

It was a beautiful day with lots of sun and bright fall colors in the hills around the shop. I continued to work the earthenware for the special Montessori pots that I'll need to bisque over the weekend. Meanwhile I'll need to get started on some stoneware.

Other activities that filled the day:
  • re-rolled fluorescent red tape onto a spool while talking to Sam.
  • packed and shipped some pots.
  • cleaned showroom and priced some pots.
  • cut a bunch of cord wood
  • took Jack on our trail loop up the hill and around the edge of the woods
  • baked some rye bread
  • found Google Mars!
  • sanded plate rack getting it ready for a fresh coat of paint
a good day


Unintended Changes (or, OOPS, I Slipped!)

Michael Kline

Many potter bloggers talk about their love of the freshly slipped pot! I love it, too. Those slipware potters must have a lot of fun!

In other news, there were some unfortunate things that happened last night as I was updating the blog. Without getting into details I wanted to let you know I'm working on getting back to normal. For now you will notice at the bottom of each post there are some reaction checkboxes. Please feel free to "react"!!

I hope to have normal commenting back soon. Thanks.

Slipping, Combing Earthenware!

Michael Kline

I'm making some limited edition earthenware dishes for Evelyn's Montessori class! The class has a special literary tea once a month and since there are several potters kids in the class, the teacher asked us to make some dishes. Anyway, here is a video showing a way I came up with to apply some white slip to some freshly thrown plates. I could have brushed the slip on, but I wanted an even layer.