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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: wood

Whole Lotta Round

Michael Kline



My list today included things like:

This list is in direct competition with another list: the making list.
  • handle pitchers
  • slip/comb big jug and pitchers
  • trim small dishes
  • trim big bowls
  • throw mugs
  • throw 5# pasta
I got a fair bit of both done.

I'm getting 'round.


'nuf

Michael Kline

After a trip to the mill with Lillian, I think I will have more than enough for the firing. Some of this Poplar was a little green and I think I'll need more of it. Better to have too much than not enough. If anything, this represents the confidence needed to light the fire in the first place.

2-15-2012

Michael Kline


It occurred to me as I was making pots tonight that I haven't been very good about simply documenting what has been happening in the shop. I guess spending all of that time producing and editing the video is fine, but what I mean is I haven't shown the table on a regular basis. The table is where all the current pots are put before they are dealt with in one way or another. They go there to await the drying flip, or the handle(s), or the trim. (I always thought I should have a barber's pole by my treadle wheel, where I do the trimmin'.)
Anyway, let me back track and explain these pictures before I go down some rabbit hole tangent. First there is the Ford, weighed down with wood. Then there is the table. As the picture illustrates the Ole Ford made a couple o' trips to Buladean to carry wood for the upcoming firing. It was a beautiful day, just right to take a rear wheel sled into the muddy yard at Street Lumber Mill. There were a couple of bundles of wood in the side yard, both unbanded and picked on already, no doubt by some other potter heathen looking for something to burn in their kiln. The sticks can be used in a wood stove, but they're really to much to handle for the heat they produce (for most people).
Buladean is about 20 minutes from here and it is a pleasant drive northward toward Tennessee. I can usually load up the truck in 15 minutes or so, depending how much culling is necessary. The first trip today was loaded into the rick and I headed back for the second. I will make another trip on he next sunny day to get the rest needed for the firing. That was my afternoon.
After supper, I laid around mostly, then heroically decided to get my ass up to the shop for my twelve. After all, I hadn't made my pots for the day! I had been wanting to make some monkey dishes. My neighbor, Courtney makes a really nice little dish, perfect for that little something, and I had been wanting to make some like hers. That's what's in the second picture. Along with a few 4 lb. bowls, I was done with my 12 in no time. I'm not exactly proud of this light effort, but I fulfilled my daily goal at least. I could have stayed on that couch and drifted off, but I managed to make a few. It may sound trivial to say, but it is the essence of this experiment to be somewhat consistent in the making of pots on a daily basis. Now they sit on the table waiting, drying for tomorrow's trim.
So this is today's disclosure. Just in time for my European readers, as I am writing this as they wake. For everybody else that may be reading this in the states Thursday morning (or later) the pots may be sitting in the "barber's chair getting a trim.
Have a great day, wherever you are.

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.

Brrrrrrrrrrrr

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!

:-)

Quick Pix

Michael Kline

Night photo of wildflowers on the "walk home"

During a run of pottery making, it seems ironic that just when I feel invincible and able to make anything on the wheel, I have to stop and paint and glaze pots! I know at this point I am most likely repeating things I've said in the past. I guess we'll have to accept that. After all, this is post # 839. If I could just go for a couple more weeks I could probably make the same amount of pots I've made in last four or five. I'll be doing that next Spring preparing for my first kiln opening. (tentatively slated for May 8th of next year!!! Save The Date!) I'll work from January through March on making pots, April will be painting, glazing, and firing!

Meanwhile, back to the present...

I cut wood with John Simmons who is the current studio assistant up at Penland. John not only brought me a trailer full of kiln dried oak, but helped stack it this evening. John is a painter and a potter going to ETSU over the mountain in Johnson City, TN. Check out his web site here. Mad props to you John!


I managed to paint a whole bunch of pots tonight and snapped a few pictures. It takes me a day to get real, real going, and it takes me that long to get the designs flowing. To someone reading this blog for a while, it may seem hat the designs are always the same, vines, vines, vines! But subtle changes evolve and it's just a matter of me remembering it all, yet leaving enough room for new things to happen with this genre. So here are a few things that are fairly pedestrian and hopefully I'll explode tomorrow with more new foliage and maybe some birds. wooohoooo! Who knows what else may emerge during the coming days?

Cold

Michael Kline


It was 16*F when I when out onto the back porch this morning. BRRR! Not as cold as it can get here, but still, I'm in awe of the cold. When I lived in MA there was a certain urgency each Fall to get the kiln site and studio ready for the oncoming Winter. It seems that in New England there was nothing more certain than Winter. But here in North Carolina we have a bit of a pass. We have our issues when it comes to school closings and road conditions, but it comes in a storm and then goes with the sun. My snow blower sits in it's rusty jacket of peeling orange paint. Today everything is frozen solid. All of my clay is outside, glazes still in the buckets that I left them in during the last session, wood is stacked for the kiln, but there is still a lot to cut. There's very little wood to burn in the wood stove, but that will come.

This week I wait for the electricians to come here after they finish their current job. I still need to dig my 60 foot trench, I will buy paint today and a few other sundries. But as I read all those busy potter-bloggers out there I am a little envious of all the production that goes on this time of year. While I read about you productive ones, I am reminded of Ron saying, "Now, get out there and make them beautiful pots". I can't wait to get through this tedious work and get those wheels in there, get the stove hot and slam some clay on the wheel head.

Sawdust

Michael Kline

Micah had a few days of sawdust and ended up with this proud stack of mostly poplar.
Here is the 'rick' before it's loaded. This is a fairly new system and is movable. In the end we can cut the same amount as my other more permanent cutting rick's.
Here is the stack after being tied down and cut. We usually cut the shorter ends off first, then make the middle cut, which yields two bundles of 60 inch sticks that will fit snauggly in the fire box. Now if I only had a little tractor....Hmmm.