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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 session

Balancing Act: The Life and Work Continuum

Michael Kline


It's been a busy year already, and, as often happens during a deadline driven session, the days (and nights) go by too fast and I lose track of the week. Yet, on Sunday, Kyle Carpenter and I loaded his kiln with the pots I've managed to make in the last couple of weeks. Unfortunately, the porcelain I made didn't get decorated and glazed. (Why i didn't get those pots done is probably a good essay in procrastination, waiting to happen)

Most everything else fit and was fired yesterday. Phew! Thank you KYLE!

So today, I'm cleaning up the mess left in the wake of making and glazing, literally and figuratively. Some of these include mopping the floor, cleaning brushes, reviewing my task list, and fulfilling email promises made, and writing about it (here, now).

Waiting for pots from ANY kiln is at first relief that the work is done (for now), then impatience and wanting to see. There's plenty to do to make up for the long days and late nights. My family eagerly wants me back in the fold after my own poor scheduling and over overwrought commitments to my work and ambition. But the life of the artist (and father/husband) isn't tidy. I used to say to folks about self employment, "I love being my own boss, I get to work any 16 hrs a day I want!" But in all honesty, there are many days when I miserably fail at getting the work done, much less 12 x 12, especially at the beginning of a session. But the days coming up on the scheduled firing I'm manic and full of panic and am to aware of time passing, hearing Stacey's grandmother's click chime away the night. 

So I sit here today, wondering, with hindsight, how I continue to find myself in these manic/panic unreasonable deadline sprees. It's clearly not just the wood kiln, because the deadline of firing KC's salt kiln produced the same old routine, even though there wasn't wood to cut and a huge pile of shelves to clean. I work best in a panic. But panic is an addiction, a rush, an influence under which I theorize/fantasize is the only condition that truly good creative work can be done. But putting myself and my family and friends under that kind of pressure is not sustainable and unhealthy. And I feel doesn't allow one's work to develop for the long haul. 

There's clearly something going on that I have to address to avoid future panic. There's much work  to be done, debugging of bad routines and  clearing the mental  impasses and clutter.  (Oh, clutter.)
Writing helps and I'm grateful for this blog to give me a kind of outlet. Thanks for letting me dump thoughts on you here. 

And making good pots helps, too.  So, "without further ado", I'm off to clean up the latest train wreck for hopefully the last time.


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!

Cranking

Michael Kline

So I've decided that it was possible to fire again before the next show[October 11&12]! I hope I'm not wrong on this one. Micah Cain is on board again to help and he gives me the confidence that we'll get it done. After dinner I took my stroll to the studio, which I can't tell you how excited I am not to have to turn the key and crank up the old Ford to get there, not to mention looking up at the stars on the way back. As you can see I had some really soft clay and made a few 4 lb. plates. It's a good start. Tomorrow I have a demo scheduled at the Odyssey Clay Center in Asheville, but will get some more pots made in the morning. This is shaping up to be a real doozy with barely a week to make pots and just a few days to paint and glaze. Throw in some wood cutting and travel day and it's going to be interesting. I hope you'll be along for the ride.