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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: trimming

Where Y'at

Michael Kline

Here's where I am. Behind schedule, as per usual. but I took a much needed break from the pot shop and spent the day with the family!

Today I'm finishing up the trimming of my plates that will be my part of the POTR donation to the Penland School Auction. All of the POTR's are making dinnerware for a big group table setting! It should be pretty awesome.

I will begin a couple of big pots for my upcoming wood kiln firing sometime today, but the real excitement will be my visitors today. Can you guess who might visiting here shortly?

Film at eleven.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday Meow Meow

Michael Kline

Another snow day here! Kids home from school, one with a fever, another sneezing! While Stacey worked at her jewelry in her jewelry shack, I scrambled to sort clothes, clean the kitchen, and enter a blog post. I guess you know where my priorities ended up.

Here are some pictures from around the shop from the last few days.

Trimming the foot rings on these yunomis/teabowls proved to be just another leap of faith in the porcelain experiment. The clay seemed to want to be trimmed at a firmer state than I am used to. Unfortunately I haven't developed a sense of where I am with thickness!


Here's a nice pattern that was left under my bat!

Scale is another leap that I'm making. The first round of pots shrunk way more than I am used to and I made a few more cups yesterday to move past my preconceptions and to hopefully get the scale I had originally intended. The cups in the foreground are made from 1.75 lbs. of clay

Life is tough for my studio mate, Snowtoe

But she's not really living up to her name, laying around by the wood stove all day while plenty of snow continues to pile up outside. She does seem to like running around in the dark chasing shadows, though.

Now on to the dishes, first the dirty ones and then the porcelain one's waiting inside that plastic bag in the studio. Have a good meow.

Super Bat

Michael Kline

When I pulled out my super bat yesterday to cut some feet on a large bowl, I tried to remember if I had mentioned it or explained here. Hmmm? No matter.

It came about after needing to trim large bowls on the treadle wheel. Since the treadle has a limited bat width because of it's mud box (splash pan) I had to go over the pan to use larger bats. For years (before I put bat pins on the wheel head) I would put a cookie of clay down on the wheel head, put a small bat on that, then another cookie, etc. until I cleared the pan. One day, I had an idea to build a custom bat that would do the same thing but be more efficient and I came up with the "super-bat". It's worked very well.

the superbat and it's clearance.

The only thing about the superbat
is that trimmings invariably fall to the floor and make a bit of a mess. But no problem. I have found a place on the pot where trimmings tend to go neatly into the pan. See the following video.

I've got to get the MeTube video production crew back in here to keep up with the Joneses, Philbeck's, Fitch's, et. al.

some jugs that I handled before I shut down the shop yesterday.

weather report. more snow fell last night.

Boo Hoo and The Effects of Pottery on Hamsters Guinea Pigs

Michael Kline

Briefly, Monday wasn't that great, nothing to report except a bunch of "poor. poor, pitiful me". I continued to correct my clay mixing that began it's ill fate on Saturday. The red dirt that I had blunged and screened, turned out to be more wartery than needed to add to the dry mix. My calculations were a little off. I guess I never thought about how much liquid I actually had. After drawing as much water off of the red dirt slip, I still had a twenty gallon garbage can and a 15 gallon tub. That's quite a lot of liquid for 350 lbs. of dry clay. So I threw up my racks and poured the red dirt slip in the racks to drip overnight. This morning I added the slightly thicker slip to the dry mix and ran the mixer most of the day trying to get the right dryness. Finally I put half of the bungs in the sun to dry out before I pugged. This firmed up the blend quite a bit in the breeze and sun. There's got to be a better way. The mixer is very slow when the clay is so wet. I think it was designed for much stiffer clay. With my very soft mix, the tines just "spun" and didn't really "push" the clay through...oh, well.

I did manage to trim the bowls from the other day, although, woe is me, I trimmed through several. Some real rookie moves. It wasn't my trimming that I was having trouble with, but the bottoms of the bowls were really too thin to cut a foot. It was a case of design not matching the circumstances. I left a couple with flat bottoms, but they just didn't seem right. [sorry, no pictures to illustrate this point] In the end, the bowls seemed too light and will probably become potatoes in the firing, if I keep them at all.

I finished up the day with some more bowls. I made a few of this style of bowl aprés Rock Creek Pottery. I used to have several of Douglass and Will's cereal bowls, but they all eventually met their Waterloo. I made a handful of these last firing and got one or two right while the others missed their mark. It's a tricky pot made particularly tricky when made from memory. But the memories of those bowls is maybe better for the hands in the making. After all, I hand washed those bowls for years and must retain some memory in the way they felt in weight and shape!

I'll end this sob story with a couple of funny pictures. I'm sure you can guess who's pot this is?! Ron probably doesn't know the effect his pottery has on hamsters guinea pigs!!

one hamster guinea pig

two hamsters guinea pigs

Last Day of Summer

Michael Kline

Today is the last day of summer and tomorrow Autumn begins! To attempt to cover what happened over the weekend would be futile. So many thoughts go through my mind as I work, I wouldn't want to bore you, but I'll try to mention a few things.

It rained mostly and pots sat wet on their boards. Mighty Micah came over Saturday to help cut and stack wood. We got a good amount done, and will finish later this week. We'll see how it burns being just about two months or so from being completely green and also getting a fair share of rain as it sat in the wood lot near the kiln. Hey! two months is plenty of time to cure out a pile of poplar, right?! Well, I know it will burn (eventually), it's just a matter of how much green wood I'll use compared to fully aged, ripened, dry and snappy poplar that I've had for the past two firings this year.


I decided to build a fire in the shop on Sunday in an attempt to dry out the place after all the rain. The doors were sticking too much from the swell! When I opened the lid of the wood stove, I was shocked to see several expired bats. They must have come into the vacant chimney pipe and gotten trapped. I love bats and depend on them to keep the mosquito population down around here. But, I'll have to put some screen around the chimney opening so this won't happen again. Mea culpa.
Speaking of winged creatures, it has been a banner year for them with all the rain, I suppose, but also the beacon that is the shop at night. Here are a couple of interesting moths that I captured on "film" the other night. Any moth experts reading? I've never seen these before.

Seagrove potters and bloggers, Meredith and Mark Heywood stopped by for a visit today, but I failed to snap a picture of my buddies because I was busy working my jaw. Hopefully Meredith will send me a picture. I saw her snapping some. Penland potter and neighbor Catherine Dotson was their guide! It was a great rainy Sunday afternoon visit.
Evelyn came up to fetch me away from my work and take me down to the house for supper. But she was captured by what seemed like a lot of fun: listening to loud rock music and making pots! So I gave her some clay and kicked the treadle for her and she made a few pots before we headed down the hill to eat. She was telling me how she wanted to decorate them for the firing. That's my girl!

I finished off the weekend by cutting feet on some little bowls and realized that the tool that I bought recently to replace the old "Dolan" trimming tool is not the same as advertised. Maybe it's one size bigger than mine. It's certainly sturdy and made of good materials, but the size of the "ribbon" is quite a bit larger(compare the two where the metal goes into the handle) and a bit clumsy compared to the old one. I do like the bigger handle on the new Kemper, fits good in my big hand. The old one is so worn out that it's just now hitting its stride and cutting beautifully. So I split the difference using the new tool as much as possible, usually beginning the cut, and finishing (and conserving) with the thin fragile edge of the old one. I guess I'm hoping to have a sort of changing of the guard at some point when ythe old tool breaks through. Hoping that when that time comes, I'll have worn down the new one sufficiently. ( I guess I could file it down, duh)

I head into that second and last week of making before I switch to shop over to a decorating and glazing venue. I've filled the kiln in two weeks before, but it's a frenzy. I'll try to keep you up to date on the "fun".