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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: technique

Korean Masters

Michael Kline

Here is a video I have watched many times and thought if you hadn't seen it yourself, here is the place and time! Or maybe watch it again. It has superb production and the artists are simply amazing. It is the video that I mentioned to my Union University students at the workshop I taught recently.  I hope you enjoy it!

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!"


Michael Kline

While adjunct potter, John Simmons is stoking up the kiln, I'm taking some downtime and downloaded a bunch of pictures from the last couple of days deco-rotation highlights. But I wanted to quickly share with you new strategy I'm employing in this firing, soda ash rocks!

I'm not sure what to call these things, but Emily Murphy uses them to salt (soda) her kiln. But basically they're a mixture of soda ash, baking soda, and whiting (calcium carb) which is mixed with lots of sawdust (but no dirt). Here's a link that explains the whole deal. Check it out.

Ironically I've been having trouble getting good sodium penetration in the upper part of the kiln. Hopefully these will take the place of salt cups that I've used in the past.
Here is a contextural shot showing the balls in place.

I'll try to get around to posting more deco highlights on the cooling days as well as some before and after! Follow the firing on my twitter feed, where I will make updates throughout the day.


A Pitcher

Michael Kline

a separate "cap" is thrown and attached to the neck

the cap after throwing onto the neck

the spout after ribbing the neck with a wooden tool.

Here is one of the more successful pitchers of the day. Maybe because I was taking pictures of it as I made it? Hmmm. The neck is an area of this pot that's hard for me to get right. So, instead of fighting it, I have been throwing a little cap that gets attached to the neck, giving more room for the handle to be attached later.

Thought you'd like to follow this one through the making, painting, firing. I'll try to keep it in your lens. Dinnertime!

Flower Pots

Michael Kline

Here is a 3 lb. flower pot with a frilly collar that I do with my "special" finger. I leave a bead of clay where I want the decorative feature to be and after it has sat a little while and firmed up just a little bit, I go in and push up on the bead to make this collar. I made a table full of these little planters, this morning and detailed them before supper.

Getting A Handle On It

Michael Kline

bucket on rolling cart with Mud Tools rib

A board of little mugs that I had made the other day, Saturday(?), awaited me this morning. After circling around and looking for the right arrangement I ended up with this setup to add and pull handles on them. I score the pots with a big serrated rib that Michael Sherrill gave me last Fall. I like using it because it's stiffish (is that a word?), it fits nicely in my grasp, and makes quick work of scoring. It simply feels better than the small serrated rib I had used for years.

scritch, scratch, poke, poke

Speaking of "feel" my daughters were hanging out the other day when I was throwing these mugs. Lillian decided she would help me, so after a short training session, she controlled the speed of the wheel, as I said faster, slower, etc. It felt like a team of glassblower's working in tandem on a piece. The crank on the old Shimpo is pretty stiff, but I must say the little gal got pretty good it. While she sat on the stool crankin', she also poked at a couple of the mugs. After a few of those, Evelyn wanted to get in on the fun. The mug at the right is poked by Lillian, the one on the left is Evelyn's design. I found it interesting that Evelyn decided to make a different mark than Lillian. After E made her marks, L gave it a scratchy try on the next one (always copying her older sister).

But all of this has me thinking how much these and other small pots are all about the finger tips. Maybe it's the relative scale of our hands/fingertips and the pots they encounter. Maybe this is a little bit vague. hmmm. One of the things that resulted from my accident a few years ago, was the difficulty of throwing tableware. (cups, bowls, production work) My fingers got sore from the repeated finger work required from throwing these smallish pots. My reaction was to make bigger pots that I could turn with ribs or a curled hand holding a sponge, hence a transition into larger pots that continues to this day. Now, though my fingers are stronger and smaller repeat ware isn't a problem.

Just a few thoughts on throwing, which I will now do since my lunch and this post are done!

where's that lotion??!!


Michael Kline


I didn't notice the Max temp, lower right on the pic above, until I went up to shut the dampers etc. Wow. I would say that it was a textbook firing. I was actually surprised that the pyrometer read so accurately the temp. Cone ten was down on top and bending on the bottom. I hope the pots come out as nice. I'll unload on Thursday. More then. For now it's time for some ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ's. Good Night/Morning.

On To The Kiln!

Michael Kline

As with most every day of this cycle of work, half of what is planned actually gets done, (maybe I should fire my planner?) But I painted and slipped the last pots and will start loading in the a.m. Here are some of the last pots that I decorated, and as usual, they were my faves. The brush was really going. I had a thought tonight that maybe I should just paint, and have someone else make the pots??? Naaaaa... making the pots is just too much fun. But it took all of these pots and several days, just to get warmed up with the brush.

Before I dipped these jugs, I put in a clay stopper, because a couple of these I dipped right side up.

Tiles for a show at the Clay Art Center, in Port Chester, NY. The show is called 6 x 6. It's all tile from different artist, it should be a nice exhibition. I made these to be a little over 7 inches, so that they would shrink to 6 in. I'm just guessing, because I haven't tested this batch of clay. Hopefully they won't be that strict for the show.
All in all it's been an interesting cycle of work. My helper, Mica and I really enjoyed dipping and glazing the pots in the bright sunshine. But for me the highlight of the day was walking the freshly glazed pots just the short distance from the new shop to the kiln, without having to drive them in the truck.