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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.

Thanks for visiting.

The Best of Sawdust and Dirt

A record of the goings on around Michael Kline Pottery!

Filtering by Tag: weather

Snow Changes Things

Michael Kline

The light is very nice and even in my studio this morning. It is also blanketing the wood I cut last week! Even though it is under a roof, the wind blows the snow all over. The poplar  wood needs time and plenty of air to dry. I hope I get more of the latter and I hope the air gets closer to a sensible seasonal temp real soon!

This hope is just part of the territory when your tools and materials are as basic as earth wind and fire.

Blog Rollin'

Michael Kline

Hi everyone,

It's a wet drippy Sunday here in the mountains of North Carolina, a perfect day to catch up on some pottery bloggery and some prog-rockery! Maybe you're doing the same thing? ;-)

I don't know about you, but I find and read blog updates using the blog roll here on and surf from here finding other blogs of interest along the way. Sometime I use Google Reader, but that's not so good, especially come July when it's being canned. On the iPad I like to use flipboard, a really awesome app that consolidates all kinds of content from RSS feeds (blogs and webpages I have subscribed to), to Facebook and  Twitter feeds. I subscribe to many blogs by email, too, and get daily, weekly updates. You can subscribe to this blog and recieve updates via email by plunking down your email address in the Feedburner block in the side column to the right or
subscribe to Sawdust/ here.

But as much as I'd like to read everything, I'm afraid I don't and I start feeling guilty when the posts start piling up like so many New Yorker magazines on the bedside table. But if the blogging is awesome, I like to read.

Alas, I'm always looking to update the blog roll here awesome content and thought you might want to suggest some awesome blogs that you like reading or feel would be of interest to other readers.

If you have suggestions, won't you please leave a comment with a link to pottery/ceramic /art blogs you like? And if you are having trouble leaving comments, it happens,  could you e*mail them to me?

Thank You!


Michael Kline

Here are a few pictures from blog posts that never happened. That happens when a pottery bloggery guy gets busy! We had a big storm blow through the other night with hail, high winds, and a whole lot of rain! There was so much of the above, that I had to mop all of the rain that came blowing into the show room and studio instead of working on my pots that night and I had to retrieve "all"of my window screens from the field below the studio the next morning! But all is dried out now.

These pots have been sitting around for a while and the sulfur (or whatever is in the clay) is coloring the slip decoration. Pretty nice.
Courtney hosted NC Clay Club and showed off her new shop and presented a fabulous slideshow of her and John's trip to Okinawa, Japan. She showed a bunch of pictures of potteries they visited and friends they made and the meals they ate. I'm not sure if they ate this snail or not? (if I hadn't been trying to get the right exposure during a dark slide show I could probably have told you about this snail!)


A fascinated audience of clay clubbers!

Well, I just wanted to share these pictures of the ones that almost got away. There are many things that happen at the pottery and during my weeks that I just don't have the time to share. Maybe I'll get around to post some of them that aren't so time sensitive and when things slow down and I have time to edit the pics. But in the the mean time...the firing train (No. 36) is on schedule and will be rolling in the station really soon, so I'd better stay close to the wheel and make sure all of its passengers are ready to board! I hope you will be along for the ride!


Eight B4 I Eat

Michael Kline

Forgot to get these in the previous post! Since I got a late start in the shop after a late night, I spun these off and put them into the sun. I'll put handles on after lunch. The Shimpo is whirring and the pots are coming off easily. Fun!

Our huge cherry willow in the back yard is literally buzzing with hundreds of bees! (maybe thousands?)

Good Weather

Michael Kline

Just browsing over the archives and saw this post from a year ago and realized that the hot weather we're having this week can easily yield to cold this time of year in the mountains. Usually Old Man Winter plays his little joke just when the apple trees are blossoming! Well at least there's plenty of wood cut for the wood stoves. I guess I've finally caught up with cut, stacked and dry wood. But for now we're enjoying the sunny warm days! Good weather to make big pots. Film at 11 (p.m.)

Backstory: 34, The Firing

Michael Kline

the stack for #34

As I gather my thoughts about the events surrounding the loading and firing of the kiln, my first thought is that you wouldn't believe me if I told you. But I guess I've decided to try to tell, anyway. Since I took a bunch of pictures of all of the calm moments, but none of the near disastrous ones, you'll just have to give me the benefit of the doubt. OK?

Tim Ayers came down from Penland to help me glaze my pots and eventually load the kiln. Tim and I worked steadily, mixing glazes and dipping pots. But I must have been in la-la-land to think we could glaze all 300 pots (usually a long days work anyway) and load the kiln (usually a ten hour job) in time for me to get a few hours sleep before starting the firing early Sunday morning! It just didn't add up, but we carried on. [Maybe this is a clue as to why I didn't make it in engineering school so many years ago??!! But, wait, this is simple math! ]

Not to dwell on long ago failures........after a couple of speed bumps during the loading (read: after stopping to glaze more pots) I found my energy lagging as I began the second tier of shelves. It was after supper and I continued to feel a kind of dread. I was thinking at the time that almost every step of the way during the past week had resulted in some minor disaster due to my poor planning. My resolve to work at all hours was getting me only so far and time was crunching down on me.

Then out of nowhere, the storm hit. My kiln shed is pretty big, but it doesn't have siding and it completely open to the weather. When the rain comes down (and horizontal) everything gets wet. And it did that night around 9 p.m. I couldn't cover the pots with tarps, because the wind would gather up the tarps and sling the pots away. I just held on and prayed that the storm would pass quickly. It didn't. Just when things seemed to calm down so I could focus back on the loading, another wave would come through. Very high winds and lashing rain continued. Like sea captain tied to the steerage of his ship, so I seemed tied to the kiln. I stayed on course to get the pots out of the rain and into the kiln!

As I worked through the storm I noticed, and was very grateful, that it was fairly balmy for this time of the year. I should have know what that might mean. shortly after this realization, of course, the thunder and lightning came! So now I'm listening to the "thrash metal band" of trees being bent over by the high winds, tin roofing that covered a wood pile flying away in the dark, and thunderous cracks exploding all around. No one should have been out in that, much less loading a kiln. But being in the state of denial that I was in, I kept telling myself, like the little engine that could, to "keep going, that the storm would pass", etc.

The storm continued for more than an hour and then the next plague: power outage! HA! Of course, just when I thought it couldn't get any worse it did! When any rational, sane person would seek shelter and say the hell with it, I thought in my own seemingly rational way, ..."well, let's see, I can get a flashlight, headlamp, kerosene lamp, etc" So I did. I retooled to finish my job.

The volunteer firemen had the road blocked down below with a powerline down from a fallen tree and the only lights were the flashing reds and my florescent battery powered lamp I was using to load my kiln. Eventually, the rains slowed and the winds moved on to terrorize the next county over. Eventually the firemen got curious to know what was happening with the back and forth moving light up on the hill. They drove up my road thinking they was some kind of arcing power line or something, but they just found a half crazed potter trying to load his kiln. What a strange sight that must have been, to walk up to this dark shed with this big shadowy hulk of a kiln and chimney and a funny looking soaking-wet guy with a hand held lamp going in and out of said kiln! I tried to explain my dire predicament. What part of deadline and loading a pottery kiln did they not understand?! Ha! They were glad that everything was "OK" and chuckled as they walked back to their truck with their flashlights. I got the kiln loaded eventually by about 2 a.m. The power company brought their cherry picker to fix the line and I sadly watched as they drove on down the road, but still no power. Damn. I guess there were more lines down. So I decided to rest a bit and wait until the power came back on to put the door up. It came back on around 4 a.m. and I woke up and went to work on bricking up the door. The door bricks are in pretty bad shape and I made a firm note to replace the bricks before next firing. Also I noticed the door of the kiln is spreading a bit. So the picture below shows how much chinking I needed to fill the gap!

After making this epic confession of poor planning and bad luck, I'll try to keep the rest brief and leave it to the captions. After all, I have a kiln to unload today!

this is how it all starts

balmy sunrise through the pines after the storm

like a dog soaked to the bone, my shed

my clay pit flooded with about three feet of water.
proof of the big rain!

later that afternoon the weather had another surprise, sleet

Lindsay Rogers stoking, notice the smile on her face and the
snow/sleet on the ground?

Lillian tooling up for her stoke!

staying warm by the kiln

Salt! Success!

I realized that our damp stack of wood was disappearing and that we needed maybe another half hour of stoking to get the temp we needed. So I used my "phone a friend/lifeline" and called Courtney and John up the road to take them up on their offer of dry wood. Courtney's kiln is just 0.8 mile up the road and it has the same firebox length, so the wood is the perfect length for my kiln, too! We barely used half of what they brought and got the kiln even all around thanks to Lindsay's great stoking. The Snow Creek Pottery Posse rides again! Thanks Lindsay, Thanks Courtney!!

By 11 p.m. the epic firing was over, and as all potters must hope in a moment like this, when all has been done that can be done, I hoped for a good firing.

Check back (if you have the time) to see pictures from the kiln!!!

If you're still reading, thanks for indulging me to recount this crazy epic.

The Source: Scott Goldberg

Michael Kline

our Scott Goldberg batter bowl

After all the polling and input from the good folks of the internet, I decided it was time to go to the source of my stubby handle dreams. This Scott Goldberg batter bowl has been making regular appearances at our pancake breakfasts and is probably the culprit of my supposedly new idea of putting different handles on my bowls. It seems that it had been working on my subconscious for a long time and exerted itself during a lull in the excitement the other day.
One of the things I noticed right off the bat, was this handle's scale in relation to the pot and the angle it comes off the pot.
Here was one of my attempts of a different handle. Still a little too tongue-like, and a little vulnerable. The profile of Scott's bowl is continued nicely with the angle of it's handle, where mine sort sticks out and is certainly prone to getting knocked off. As a matter of fact, just handling the bowls in their infancy has shown me that they are fragile. (This should raise a big flag.) The whole point for this handle is to convey a certain directness and boldness, even, which I think Scott's bowl does successfully.

Besides having a gorgeous glaze and pattern, which can't be discounted as I react to the bowl's elements, the bluntness of the handle is a quality that gives me the impression of boldness and directness. The angular end is resolved in the way that it was paddled/cut, whereas mine are left somewhat unresolved (sorry no picture of mine ) and I love the way the brown and black glazes highlight the edges.

Briefly a word about the weather...another snow day for the schools! According to Stacey, there have been only 5 full days of school since the Christmas break! What are we to do ? What do parents who aren't work-at-home potters and jewelers do for day care for their kids!!!

Now back to pottery!
I did resolve to finish up the board of bowls with my standard handles. Best to stick with something I'm good at while continuing to work in the background with these other ideas. Development of new ideas comes by way of scholarship. The standard pots pay the tuition for these scholarship "students"! And in economic terms, the R and D (scholarship) has to be in the budget!

Here are the tankards and small jugs handled and ready to bisque.

Unfortunately I feel a little rushed to resolve this post and publish it. My apologies. I've spent more time that I intended, but it has been very helpful to write about and try to explain my thoughts. This is one of the benefits from blogging about one's pottery. If you are potting and not blogging, I would recommend that you at least keep a notebook and put in writing some of your questions. Then try answering these questions.

Also I recommend taking lots of pictures of your work at different stages of their development. You will begin to see them in a different way. Sometimes we idealize what we have made and pictures are way of keeping a certain fantasy in check.

And if you're already keeping a journal and already taking lots of picture, the blog is a great vehicle to keep it all organized. Emily Murphy has some great blog posts that cover blogging and of course there are videos and other how to DIY on blogging on the internet!

OK, time for some more research in the pot shop!

Thursday is the New Monday

Michael Kline

This is sort of how it feels in the studio this morning. Brrrr. The big week has been more like a wee-week. Weak. Keeping it short this morning. Must...........make...............pots....Brrrr.........
Don't forget the wee poll. just scroll down and look for it on the right! Dogs are still winning!
Meow for now.

Muddy Shoes

Michael Kline

"Did you hear about the midnight rambler?
He'll leave his footprints up and down your hall"
-The Rolling Stones
rainy muddy walk with jack.

This post started out a little whiney and pitiful. After all, today was a wash, inside the shop and outside, as it rained all day. It's still raining. That's good! It's been so dry and there have been some fires on the mountain.

But I deleted all that talk about flopped pots, about my clay being too soft, about the clay not cooperating, about too much coffee on a rainy day making me too uptight, too wound up to throw properly.........oh! [reprinted with permission from the author's subconcious]

After I figured out that the clay was, indeed, too soft for the 1 gallon jars that I was trying to get right, it was too late for any more potting. I had a bunch of pots that still needed to be handled before I hit the sack. They'll have to wait till tomorrow!

Blog Secret: When you haven't made a lot of work to show off at the end of the day, post a bunch of pictures, taken from different angles!

the midnight rambler

Life is Good

Michael Kline

Today's views from the main throwing place at my Shimpo Scream! The bottom picture shows haw dirty this window can get. The other window, the clean one, is the one I most often glance out of. It also provides great light that helps me to see the profiles of my pots.

With weather like we had today I was quickly out the door after some a.m. pugging to cut wood for the rest of the afternoon. I burn the kiln with poplar so I can squeak by just a few weeks of drying, but the kiln runs like a Nascar, or should I say Formula 1 car when the wood is well seasoned!

I got to thinking how lucky I am to be doing what I do. There are times when I don't feel so lucky, but today it was a blessing to be out cutting wood for the kiln and making pots. We squeak by with our meager income, and have everything we need to be happy. I just wish I had a couple of more weeks to get ready for the next firing!


Michael Kline

I do live in the mountains at an elevation of about 2600 ft. (792.48 m). And tomorrow is the first day of Fall. But the real reason fot the wood stove burning on this last day of summer is the relentless wetness and sogginess that is my pottery studio.

So I've got a lil' fire burning to dry out some pots so that I can start to bisque fire.

Knowing that the sun shines somewhere is my one comforting thought. But that ain't gonna dry all these pots out here, today.

I hope the sun is shining for you today!


The Store

Michael Kline

I know, another beautiful day in paradise...But it was! All of the senses are waking up. The trees in our meadow are fragrant with their buds covered in a honey-like sap. The wind blows in gusts that are finally warm enough to bask in, and is revealed by the waves of grass that seems to get taller by the day. Ahhhh. Hard to believe, huh.

I just put some new pots out and tidied up the shed. The weather is supposed to get even warmer in the coming days.

So why don't you come and see us.


Michael Kline

This morning, after some discussion, I decided to start a project that wasn't on my list this week, It's probably on some long lost list somewhere from years ago. Let me explain...Maybe a year ago I ripped a wall down in our bedroom and put new drywall in its place. In the process I took the door and the trim out. Since then, (it may have been two years???) we haven't had a door on our bedroom. Today was the day to start back on this long overdo project. Of course, being me, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to enjoy the use of my Dad's old hand plane (technically, it's called a "jack plane") and thus prolonging the experience and the project.


It was such a balmy 45*F that I thought it would be great to distract myself outside(again). Here is a shot of the first hand planed board I worked on this morning. I may do a little carving on it as well. (I hope Stacey doesn't read this for a few days!) Maybe it's selfish of me to involve myself in such an experience, but I can't help myself. I love doing it. Isn't that the point of working? Shouldn't it be? Yes and but who's going to be able to pay me for hand made pottery these days, much less a hand planed board??!! Don't get me started on the impending doom!

Back to my pottery reality this afternoon as I am going to get back to some clay work. Reclaimed red dirt is ready for me and as is Tom's porcelain. Which way do I jump? We'll see...hehehe.

P.S. Check out Doug Fitch who has just opened up his kiln full of beautifully warm earthenware!

00.3 Degrees

Michael Kline

This picture was taken about 11:30 a.m. after I had spent a considerable amount of time under the house thawing pipes and finally realized I had left the well cap uncovered. As Ron and Dan might have said, "RATS." Although I had left the water dripping last night in anticipation for the "three dog night", I forgot that the well was left uncovered after I used the hose a couple of weeks ago to clean up the chicken coop.

Cynthia Bringle recorded 0.3*F at her place near Penland.