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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: thoughts

Future Pottery

Michael Kline

Hello King Friday XV,

Uncle B and I had some good times in the past couple of days. I'll miss him today as his "Friday" came yesterday and he's off to the Piedmont today with family. Today, I’ll no doubt finish up my mugs in record time. There isn't likely to be any banter, except that echoing in my head.

One interesting concept that stuck in my brain after yesterday's talking (and yesterday's post) is somehow related to the idea of the ceramic third eye, or maybe better yet, the ceramic mind's eye. I'm not sure how. It's also related to time travel (bear with me, please) and future pottery, good lord willing.

Part of the agenda that Uncle B set in front of me, scribbled on a scrap of paper, was the notion of limits, deadlines, procrastination, and the addiction to urgency. (paraphrased) I had a rush of thoughts. The first being that I wanted to put off that agenda item till later—Pass!


Then I panicked with the thought that I have too little time to be at Penland in the first place, making pots for charity when I should be making pots in MY shop for MY kiln! At the same time, the real silver lining for me is that I AM  building momentum making pots, I AM having a thrilling time in conversation with Scott C(Uncle B) and so what’s the big deal?

This could turn into a very tangential, stream of consciousness post, so let me try to avoid that train wreck, or some random meteor shower of thoughts, by saying that everything we do in this moment as artists is some kind of investment in our future work.

I ask myself,

  • how will this time I'm spending effect the work I make? 
  • am I spending this time working toward making better work? 
  • is this studio full of crap that is encumbering a good flow of creativity? 

The pots I make for Penland I do ultimately for Penland’s benefit. But it is also helping ME make better pots by allowing me time to work out some form ideas with very few of the usual risks. As Scott said yesterday, something to the effect of, “at least we were keeping our hands muddy” the time spent in conversation and clay are rare and can’t be measured. Progress was somehow being made.

The progress bar is moving along! [or is it?] There’s a lot to be said of the progress bar.

All I really want to say, as I sort these thoughts out on the keyboard, is,

Keep pushing, keep striving! Your future pots deserve it.

Now,  Go on and get outta here!

It’s later than you think.

Have a great weekend.

Here's The Thing

Michael Kline

Here's the thing.

I've been looking out into the blue sky and fall landscape and how these will play out in glaze and pattern. I've been thinking about being a husband, a father, and how these roles affect the creative life. I've been thinking about my health, about my endurance and wood firing.

I've been thinking a lot after an email I got this morning from a fellow artist-blogger-pilgrim. I've been thinking about the physical impossibility of making pots and taking the time to write/blog about it. I've been thinking about sleep!

I've been thinking of the digital promise of computers and the internet. Then, in the midst of all these colliding thoughts, questions, and scarce answers, I heard this interview of Douglas Rushkoff on Tom Ashbrook's On Point. I recommend it.

If you need a quickie before you listen to the whole program, here is a short video that may encourage.

My late lunch break is over, and that's all I'm giving up for now. I could go on I guess, but there is a whole pile of inert clay waiting to be formed up in my shop. Back to it I go. Thanks.

Keeping My Head Above Water

Michael Kline

sunset on Conley Ridge Road

In my sea of pots that await the brush and the glaze, I'm hanging in there. Whenever I step outside I'm amazed at how wonderful the air feels on my face. After looking at pots and painting at close range, the great outdoors seems like such vastness.


It is! (a vastness)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tom Turner: Part 2: Salt Glazed

Michael Kline

If I had taken more notes and been a better student I could then pass on more information to you about the pots in this post. But as it stands, it's been over a week since I visited Tom and looked at these pots and I didn't have my notebook with me.

One important thing that happens, though, when handling pots or objects of any kind is a sort of downloading of non-verbal information. Textures, weights, shapes become internalized and this data is kept in hand memory and visual memory. We become scanners and cameras as we handle and turn these objects. You don't have to be a potter to do this. All of us handle hundreds of objects every day. Our relationship with any object is the product of these sensory interactions merging with our own needs and desires. We need a cup of tea or coffee, we desire that particular cup. The necessity of food and eating for survival is the primary job for which pottery exists, the culture of that pottery is lead by our desire for function and style. The available technology at any given time in history is the catalyst for expression in the art of the potter.

Although I don't consider myself a scientist, I am infinitely curious. This curiosity leads me to answer questions that I have in my work as a potter. As a contemporary potter I am fortunate to have examples of previous potter's research available in collections like Tom's, like the Mint Museum's, and others, like the Freer/Sackler. In any research discovery stands on the shoulders of the past. Unfortunately, a lot of what I do in the studio is redundant in the search for these answers.
I'm not sure, yet, how to minimize this. But continuing to study is crucial.
No matter if you are making pottery or sculpture, no matter if you are new to clay or a veteran, it is essential to the success of your work to know the history. We may be doomed to repeat the failures of the past, I know I have, but we can also enjoy the satisfaction of perpetuating good ideas and good forms with our work.
I meant to talk more specifically about the marks on some of these pots, but I've gone on a tangent. Last week, Tom and I were were looking at handles, their attachments, and capacity marks. These images show a few ways of marking and embellishing.

In the process of answering questions about these pots we learn about the needs and desires of the people who made them and the culture that surrounded them. In turn, we learn about our own needs and desires, both as potters and as people. Thanks Tom for sharing.

I'd better get myself in that studio and make some pots today! Thanks for indulging.

Tom showing proper form when holding an old pot

***Click here to see another Stedman/Seymour pot you might find very interesting. I can't imagine what it was for or how it might have been used. Maybe you have an idea?

Weekend? What Weekend?

Michael Kline

After reading Tony's post today, I realized that what I really needed to do was just make some pots, fill a table! So I did. As far as the blog beat goes, there is something of a genre of a certain post that features these kinds of images. I've seen it everywhere, the table full of pots! There is something very quintessential about the table or shelves of fresh pots. The wheel and potter as a team is best described by these types of scenes. It's one of the thrills of potting, I think. To see the sheen of a freshly thrown group of pots reminds me how amazing this process is. It is a process that begins with a shovel and will end up fired to stone and on someone's table. Sometimes I ask myself, "How can this be? How did I become the recipient of such a mission, to spin mud to such a shape?"

With all of the running around and craziness today, I am thankful for the task of making these pots. It was calming.

OK, I'd better sign off before I get really weepy!

sniff, sniff...