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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: workshops

Here Now

Michael Kline


Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road, Healthy, free, the world before me, The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose. -- Walt Whitman

...the road goes on forever and the party never ends -- Robert Earl Keen

There’s nothing like travel to open my eyes to what is possible and there’s nothing quite like 10 days in California to present an alternative to home. I just returned from a workshop tour in the Bay area and have so much goodness to rememeber and reflect on.

Traveling gives me a particular point of view that I think is essential to understanding the world “out there” and as well as understanding what I call home. It is a contrast and a comparison of what is familiar with what is new. In a parallel way, teaching gives me perspective. Sharing what I know and do with my workshop students, challenges and reaffirms what I believe. Teaching expands my understanding and often I find myself the student in a funny twist. Maybe you would agree?

For now I will write in a general way because my goal, today, was to send my gratitude out to all of the folks that I met along the way. Gratitude to all the folks who took care of me, and supported me. To all the folks that laughed with me.

Although for most of the time it rained, there were many rainbows.

Heat, pt 1

Michael Kline

hot for February NC mountain potter, anyway! lint haters gonna hate.
I'm trying to come up with words that might describe my experience as a presenter at the Florida Heat Surface Conference.  I could use some of my favorite one word comments like, awesome, cool, amazing, fantastic, unbelievable, etc. But how many times can one use these and still get an idea of real excitement across?


KK was wise to just to keep it to a few amazing pictures. She said she would leave the writing to me. Ha!

the Train Station

Florida Heat Surface was the first of its kind at St. Pete Clay/Morean Center for Clay (Train Station Center for Clay) . Adam Field and Benjamin Carter did a lot of the planning and organizing that brought the likes of  Chandra DeBuse, Forrest Lesch-Middelton, Julia Galloway, Kristen Kieffer, Lisa Orr and myself together to explore and exhibit our ceramic surface designs. The setting was balmy and expansive. Lots and lots of cubic footage of clay! huge! lots of kilns inside and out. Lots of pots and sculpture everywhere! I'm not sure if Peter Voulkos ever worked there in the Train Station but I did heard that St Pete the city, not the clay giant/patron saint was the winter clay playground for Mr. V. The place was awesome! (oops, sorry)

The daily schedule varied by presenter and we each got to demo with a different person each day. There was a work room "backstage", that was always busy with demo prep and wheels spinning. I seemed to have stuff spread out all over. Since I was the only presenter to drive to the workshop and consequently I had a lot of stuff! I filled the car with some of my home clay, lots of finished pots that were sold in the gallery, and lots of bisqueware for painting and firing. Too much really, but better to have too much than too little.

Adam Field layin down the glaze doctrine!
Adam and I started things off with a glazing/deco demo on Wednesday morning and ending up loading 2 kilns. Soda and salt. SO I was glad to have brought extra pots to help fill the kilns.

Me trying to remember the punchline

waxed and glazed work for the salt kiln. really nice deco!

stacked and ready

It was a LOT of work, but the prospect of firing and getting pots before the weekend was over was exciting for everyone! As for me, I was a little anxious about firing that kiln that was a stranger to me, not to mention the pressure that fell on my shoulders for a successful firing.

Hey, but that's why I get paid the big bucks, right?

to be continued...

BGSU Ceramics Symposium Day 2

Michael Kline

In hindsight, there is much lost in traveling from symposium to conference. I really wanted to wrap up the Bowling Green gig while all of the juices were flowing and the memory as crisp as the Detroit winds, but I guess I didn't spend enough time in the airport! [hallelujah!!] But here are a few pictures from the second day of the Ceramic Symposium at BGSU last week.

"let's stop talking for a moment and try to finish these!"

Gerit's girl on a horse finished

foot detail

photo: Gerit Grimm

practically finished

There's never enough time to do all the things I want to do in two days, but Gerit and I had some amazing convo and made some cool stuff. 

Bill B prepping for his lecture.  Ahh, Heisenberg!

One of my all time favorite potters, Bill Brouillard, came on Friday top show some of his pots and lectured on his long and diverse career as a potter and teacher. 

Here is the gang at the end of the line.

Zimra Beiner, moi, Gerit, Bill, Clay Leonard

Thanks to Clay Leonard (@ClayCeramics on Twitter) and Zimra Beiner for organizing the symposium and everyone who came to the event, and especially those that helped wedge the clay and mix the slips! 

March 2012 in Old San Juan

Michael Kline

There is no better time to see than when you are traveling. Not only are your eyes wide open but all of your senses are fully present and alive. You are sprung out of your routine and charmed by all that you experience. There's not a better time to be inspired.

That's what make Travel-Arte's workshops seem so intriguing to me. Travel to Old Juan in Puerto Rico and learn and create with some of today's premier ceramic sculptors. What could be better?

Here's what a workshop participant said about their Travel-Arte experience,
"Everything was carefully considered from the resource materials, the organization of the work stations, studio visits, lunches, slide presentations and one on one time (with) each participant. I would recommend this to anyone who is interested in Clay figuration. A tremendous amount of technical information was covered, supported with hands on guidance.

…I also think the idea of learning a skill coupled with a new travel experience was fulfilled. It is always inspiring to see how other Artists work and even more so in a culturally vibrant country like PR…it was a successful and enjoyable experience …I am looking forward to the workshops March 2012."

Jasmine Thomas-Girvan, Trinidad and Tobago,

Check out the artist's web sites below and Go to Travel-Art's website for more details.

LISA CLAGUE: Beyond Tradition March 8, 9, 10

CRISTINA CÓRDOVA : In Depth Portfolio Review March 11

JERYLIN VIRDEN : Lowfire Glazes March 12, 13, 14

SERGEI ISUPOV: Image and Form March 16, 17 18

Arrowmont and Beyond!

Michael Kline

participants in the ACC Convening at Penland last month

I've just spent the morning doing paper work for my workshop at Arrowmont next September! OOO fun, fun! But seriously, it's pretty exciting to plan a workshop! The paperwork is a reality to assure that everything is in place for this one week adventure into wood firing and pottery making!

Just for you I will leak the course description to be published next month in the Arrowmont catalog:

Wood Fired Pots: Expect the Unexpected

The wood kiln is a great vehicle for expressing our best intentions and celebrating the process and the natural effects of fire on clay. We'll experiment with brushes and discuss imagery to create simple or complex patterns in slips and glazes. BYOB (bring your own cone 10 bisque ware) to be fired in the wood kiln. While we wait for the kiln to cool, we'll make pots of all sizes and join in a series of fun exercises that are guaranteed to brush up your decorating & painting skills!

Here is the longer description:

This will be an action packed week that will begin with decorating/glazing your pots to be fired in the manibigama wood kiln. Bring cone ten stoneware pots that have been bisque fired. We will load the kiln and fire the kiln paying close attention to the effects of different kinds of wood and frequency of stoking. We will use our sense of seeing, hearing and smell to understand what’s happening inside the kiln! While the kiln cools, we will make pots and do lots of fun brushwork exercises. I will demonstrate how to make pots of all sizes, especially larger pots. We will explore brushes, pattern making on the pottery surface, slip/glaze strategies, and other decorating techniques including my pigmented wax resist technique. In addition, I will discuss my blog and how it informs my studio practice. We will discuss various approaches to this online media and how it is shaping our pottery field. At the end of the week, we will unload the wood kiln and assess the results and have an informal critiques of the pots.

As I read these I am reminded of the tone of voice pro athletes fall into when being interviewed, or the tone that a museum docent falls into when giving a tour of a exhibition. You know that tone?

Anyway, I also wrote a brief statement for the American Craft Council's for the symposium, "Convenings", I attended at Penland a few weeks ago. Yea, I was supposed to submit this before the symposium, but just managed to get it together this morning. It's pretty brief because I had to send it in "Now", as the email I received stated! Well, the question was, after all, Why craft NOW?
Why craft now?

As a maker my question is usually why craft then? As a potter I tend to look at the history of my craft as a well to dip my hands into and a fire to keep stoking.
In typical Kline fashion I avoid actually answering the question by restating the question and then giving a rather mysterious and vague poetic kind of answer. Hmmm. Suspicious art speak?

I'd better get back to work. Please take aim at these words. Maybe it's not too late to edit for future consumption.

Oh, and don't be like me and procrastinate! Sign up for the Arrowmont workshop ASAP! The catalog comes out next month but you can preview the 2011 Workshop listing and reserve your spot by calling 865-436-5860!!!

Tom Turner Videos

Michael Kline

I went over to Tom's yesterday to shoot a video to promote his June 26, 27th workshop and we did it in one take! Not only will Tom show you all of his techniques and share his excitement about his porcelain and his glazes, he's raffling off a brand new Shimpo Whisper!!! to one of the workshop participants!! WOW. [translated for our non-french speaking readers : Wow!]

So what I am saying is, DON'T take the workshop so my odds of winning the new wheel will be better!!

OK, Here's the video and a couple of other ones we found lurking on YouTube.

This following video is an excerpt from Tom's DVD, that is available here!

This 4 disc DVD set documents a two day workshop he conducted at the North Carolina Pottery Center in Seagrove, North Carolina in May of 2005. Along with the workshop was a mini-retrospective of 34 of his favorite pots from his permanent collection spanning 1970 to 2004. These pots document his best work from different studios, different periods of time, and different processes he used during those years.


Michael Kline

I'll be teaching in my old stomping grounds of New England this summer at the Snow Farm! It seems a bit early to be talking about a workshop that happens June 20-22nd, but I just wanted to mention it before it filled up. You can see the course description here and also register on the Snow Farm web site. When I lived in Massachussetts I taught here weekly and thought of Snow Farm as a mini Penland. In fact they it's not so mini after all. They offer a wide variety of media, including glassblowing. Also they have a wonderful summer program for young adults. It'll be a great summer weekend. I'll be focussing our efforts on brushwork, but will be making big pots as well! This is a hands on class! Oh, the food is GREAT, too!

More From the Haywood Gig

Michael Kline

I managed to take a picture from my vantage point, sorry I didn't get everyone in the picture.

Joy Tanner product placement

I wanted to post a few more pictures from the Haywood Community College workshop of the past day and a half. The students were great. They asked great questions and most of them managed to stay awake during my elliptical discussions! My only regrets are that I didn't take more pictures of their pots or their fine studio. Haywood is just about an hour and a half from the Penland area, so it's not far to drop in for a visit. It would be great to get down there to report for the blog.

So, here are a few pictures to get a sense of the workshop and and a chance to see the new whiskers I'm sporting!

wax resisting

group "brushplay"

Thanks to Steve Lloyd for the invitation to show what I do and test out some of my "theories". And thanks for taking the pics, Steve!

Working On The Set List

Michael Kline

the old Ford loaded down
at John's storage unit.

It was a beautiful clear day. Cold and windy, but nice. Micah Cain came over for some heavy lifting and general schlepping of stuff still stored away and almost forgotten over Micaville way. We stored my booth up in the attic space in between truss framing. We moved a hydraulic press and the old Peter Pugger, among other things. While we were there we ran into my old buddy John Snyder who was also moving some things out of storage. John insisted that I take a couple of nifty tables with wheels he had built and no longer needed. I graciously accepted and we piled'em on the old Ford.

the "new" Shimpo table

After looking over the tables, I had a hunch that I could possibly use one for my Shimp wheel. I hadn't had the time to build my table, ball opener, and splash pan for the Shimpo, and it turned out after removing the top piece of plywood that the lower shelf was just the right height for the wheel to sit. I like my wheel head to be just below my hips and that it was. I locked the wheels and off I went to test it out. I threw a ten pound jug. The clay was just right and the table was fine. I'll consider using it permanently if I can add a wooden splash pan and ball opener, which shouldn't be a problem.

3 gallon jug

I'm working on the "set list" for the Kansas State U. workshop on Friday. I'm really excited to go there and show them some of what I do. I'm not positive, but I think it's open to the general public. I'll find out for sure. It would be great to see you there if you're in the neighborhood. I'll also be doing some brushwork demos, as well as a brief lecture that evening. More on the set list, lecture, and access to the workshop in the coming days.

Bird's Eye View

Michael Kline

We had a nice hike up to a hill behind our house yesterday. Here is a nice view of the surrounding hills and the pottery nestled below. It reminds me of one of those landscape paintings from China or Japan, that shows the magnificently grand landscape surrounding some teeny tiny human activity within it. This little walk is sort of "straight up" through a Christmas tree farm just behind our 'homestead'. The weather was unseasonably warm and it was great being out. The pointy peak is called Bailey's Peak and can also be seen from the Penland School as well as west in Burnsville. I don't know the elevation of the Peak, but it's got to be over 3000' since our house is about 2600'. The Peak was part of a recent real estate fraud involving international intrigue and millions of dollars. Here's a story.

I just thought I would share this as I sit here at my dial-up connection waiting for my airline flight is being confirmed. tick, tock, tick, tock.

I'm going to Manhattan, Kansas to teach a workshop at Kansas State University in a few weeks. I hope to go check out the Nelson Museum in Kansas City while I'm there. Does anybody want to meet up? Let me know if you'll be around on the 26th of this month!

Have a great Monday!


Michael Kline

I wanted to thank John Hartom, Lori Theriault, and the folks at Odyssey Workshop for having me over to show what I do yesterday. It was a brief workshop but I managed to show a few techniques, especially some brushwork strategies. The class at Odyssey is specifically aimed at making pots for an Empty Bowls event in support of the Manna Food Bank in Asheville, NC. Here are some video links I mentioned at the workshop for those who are following up.