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192 Jim Boone Rd
Bakersville, NC, 28705
United States

828-675-4097

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: the old days

Carolina Mingei

Michael Kline




I just spoke to my porcelain buddy Tom. He's really excited about this survivor. I can see why. He sent these pictures. Tom's thinking from the evidence of bloating and burn outs/melt outs that the pot was an early, maybe 1850's, pot made from an exploratory field of clay. Tom pointed out to me, and as I see, that the clay had several technical issues. It could have been essentially a test or clay that was being used for the first time or an example of some transitional clay. During our conversation I kept thinking that he could have been talking about my clay, haha. Perhaps it was a pot made from the best available clay at that time. Obviously this was not a beginning potter, but the materials may have been new and untested. The jar's rim/lip is unglazed and I think the deformation is from other pots being stacked upon it. I don't recall what Tom said about that. Here is a picture of that rim.


I would have to say that there must be many more similar pots out there yet to be discovered by the wider pottery loving audience. It's exciting to see these pots surface and have access to them. Thanks Tom for sharing!

Here is Tom's recent, and very relevant commentary in Ceramics Monthly.

Ken Shipley Jar at Arrowmont

Michael Kline

I have wanted to write a little about my experience at the symposium at Arrowmont, but have been spending a lot of time recovering and refocusing. Now that it is Wednesday evening and I had a spare moment from a busy day of catch up, I wanted to start with this piece. It is a wood fired jar by Ken Shipley located in my room at the Staff House. I shared the suite with my old pal Mark Shapiro. When I walked into the room, I spotted it right away. To borrow a phrase from Kim Ellington, I could have spotted it from 55 mph. I knew Ken Shipley at the University of TN Knoxville. Ken was a graduate student and was my very first teacher at UT when I took that fateful night class in 1983 that started it all. Although I seem to remember that Ken had to pass the baton at some point during that summer class, I got to know him after I become a real student in the pot shop. I was pretty new to pot shop and to the salt kiln and the anagama and helped out at a couple of firings along with Ken's firing buddy, Pat Houston. Ken made a lot of these jars, some of them pretty massive. I remember going into his studio and smelling the clay that Ken had stored in big garbage cans. It had a peculiar odor of sour beer and who knows what else. Of course everything about his studio had some sort of intrigue. Ken inspired me to try to make big pots and use the anagama in my later undergrad years.
Enough nostalgia, let's get back to this jar. I took a good look at it and noticed some beautiful subtle colors that are somewhat noticeable from this picture that I took with my cell phone. I'm not sure whether the patterns are solely from the flame. I seem to remember Ken wrapping pots with straw soaked in salt, but it's been a really long time. It's a real beauty. It was the next best thing to seeing Ken who I haven't seen in some years. He now teaches at Austin Peay State University in my hometown of Clarksville, TN. Here is Ken's web site if you want to see what he's been doing lately.



















Here are a couple of old pictures I retrieved from the vaults showing the firebox of the former UTK anagama built* in 1981(?) by Shiro Otani at the Melrose Ave studio. On the right is a picture of the kiln and that's Peter Rose chopping wood. (I can't remember if I have already published these pictures in another post.) Peter lives and makes pots in Knoxville to this day but hails from Australia. After Kenny graduated and moved on Peter came around, (thank God!) and helped all of us Art students fire the kiln. We were pretty much clueless. I had helped Kenny fire a couple of his kiln loads, but really hadn't fired by myself. So, I owe a lot to Ken and Peter!

All these memories (and I could go on, but I'll spare ya for now) from a jar.

*UPDATE:
The kiln was actually built by Ken Shipley, Stephen Frazier, Patrick Houston, and others after the kiln built at Arrowmont built by Otani.