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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.

Thanks for visiting.

The Best of Sawdust and Dirt

A record of the goings on around Michael Kline Pottery!

Filtering by Tag: writing

cooped up

Michael Kline

Your plate is always full, for better or worse. - Kyle Carpenter, friend, family man, and potter


Kyle Carpenter and Ron Philbeck and I have an ongoing convo. We check in with each other throughout the day [via a group iMessage] and it's a great camaraderie of pottery, family, food, drink. Whatever is going on we keep in touch and share what's on our plate. It's our "water cooler".

I commented that I sounded like a broken record in yesterday's blog post. It seemed like the kind of post I had written a few times before. By broken record I guess I was questioning whether I was saying anything different, was I revealing anything new, had I learned anything since the last time I wrote that blog post. I guess like pottery making, life has its seasons and blogs have their cycles of reflection. Kyle's response was right on and I felt that he was doing me a favor, saying that it was a fact of life for all of us. Maybe especially in this 24/7 news cycle culture and the world of selfies, facebook updates, and the always flowing streaming river of content. But I always have time for gems like this (thanks Doug)!

Thanks for the email comments everybody sent. I'm sorry for those of you who couldn't leave a comment directly on the blog. I'm working on the problem. Like my sluggishness in remembering and reacquainting myself with the longhand blog post, the commenting machine is a little slow to take all of your input all at once. But don't stop trying.

Here are a few thoughts I received today.
For me it's all about momentum...I always piddle around before stepping up to the wheel as it seems important to get my world in order beforehand. Once I start a new cycle I feel an urgency that lets me ignore all other tasks, so putting things in their physical or mental place before I start keeps my mind clear. With the sale of the art center I have much more time for dreaming and playing, but I have to learn another new way forward. Thanks for your comments on my blog...I always admire the way you think!

--Dan Finnegan
And this one,
Great post and so true! I can feel my procrastinations, mutterings and mumblings in your words. Sometimes it is hard to dive in to the icy water but once you are in all is fine. As your friend Mark Shapiro has told me 90% of getting to work/flow is just showing up! We tend to put up roadblocks at times and maybe that is part of the contemplative process. Just saying "Damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead" may work, but you can miss the quiet, nagging voice of uncertainty that may be needed to process direction. There may be no correct process for productive work. Maybe it is just being mindful of the process and not give in to long to the deer in the headlights scenario !  

Best, W
and this,
And a little pressure always helps!!

-- ap
Thanks for the reassurance. I welcome all of your comments, either through the blog or directly via email.

Just to keep you up to date,
  • It is currently -2 and howling here at the shop in Boonford.
  • I have spent the better part of the day dashing in and out of the bosom of home (and wood stove) to cover pipes, install heat lamps and seal up the hunkered down chickens in their coops. Listen to my favorite chicken podcast here.
  • Not much has changed in the shop except the dryness of the pots I made yesterday. The swirl ware yunomi are tucked under some plastic and await foot turning (trimming) tomorrow.
  • Must send pots soon to St. Petersburg, Fla for Florida Heat Surface Symposium show and to the Charm City for the Southern Hospitality show. Grrrr, more packing!
I hope you don't mind the sea of text. My aim is to try to write at least 500 words a day here on ye olde blogge. (not counting the above as writing, just some sort of public reminder) It's like Ron's Whole 30 goal oriented living.

I do hope you are safe and cozy this winter's night.

Cossing Paths/Thinking and Seeing Out Loud

Michael Kline

I'm very curious, sometimes obsessed, with all of the ways we can share information these days. So much has changed in just the past 6 months, not to mention the last five years since I started this blog. Besides this blog, there's Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, Flickr, and Instagram, just to name the one's I employ when struck with the impulse to share a picture or a thought. For now, all roads seem to lead into the town square of Facebook, but I'm sure that will change as well. (does anyone remember AOL?) My internet personas are somehow connected like some Rube Goldberg contraption that most times just requires me to start the ball rolling on one of my devices which, in turn, sends it out to all of the "branches".

What's my point? I guess I'm trying to figure all of this out as much as anyone and wonder mostly whether this blog is still a vital organism. It seems heavy and sluggish. Writing takes time and who has any of that? Maybe it is much easier to shoot the camera and click than to sit here and blather on about I am thinking?  

Pictures are a must for the pottery bloggery, but words are still central to the task of understanding. 

[I think I just answered my own question. Thank you blog.]

OK, [sigh of relief] Now back to the important work of pottery!

Only the Boring are Bored

Michael Kline

Stacey reminded me that it's not just boredom that can propel us in our creative work and Carter Gillies responded to that last post in a wonderful email. It got me to thinking.

While boredom may be the more passive route to discovery, curiosity leads one who has an active inquisitive mind.

Carter writes,

Being restless CAN be about boredom but it also seems to be about how open we are to new directions. Sometimes our comfort is all that matters, and doing things by routine is a reward we enjoy. Other times that's not enough. We see things that we wonder about. We are curious. And if we don't look any deeper it may turn out that we later regret only settling for what we've got rather than being open to something new.
Carter has unsurpassed rigor as a blogger. In the era of 140 characters, Carter dives deep and uses more than thumbs to make his case. Read Carter's blog.

Writer@Large, Katey Schultz

Michael Kline


Way back before I had this blog, Katey Schultz wrote frequently, brilliantly, and at length about her life at her web-log, The Writing Life. Katey's blog has been going strong since 2005 and it was one of the reasons I decided to give this medium a whirl and to see if writing a blog would better my writing craft. I didn't want to be a writer in the "career" sense, but I wanted to be a better writer when asked to submit an artist statement or present my slide show which I "script".

Katey hails from nearby Celo, NC and began her professional writing career writing articles about some of our better known craftspeople here in the greater metropolitan Penland area. You've most likely read her articles in Ceramics Monthly, Ceramic Arts & Perception, Surface Design Journal, Contemporary Impressions, and Metalsmith. She has written articles about Cristina Cordova, Lisa Clague, Kenneth Baskin, Terry Gess, Jenny Mendes, Emily Reason, Matt Kelleher, and Shoko Teruyama, among others too numerous to mention! Many of her artist profiles have been covers for these magazines.

My point is, Katey is a fabulous writer and knows ceramics inside and out!

In 2011, Katey started Writer@Large, a writing for artists consultation service. Basically, if you need an editor for your artist statement, or someone to write brilliant copy for web site content or press releases, Katey can take the careful time and attention needed to write great content, while you continue to do the things you do best, working in your studio making stuff!

Just last year, Katey was the press/P.R. manager to our Spruce Pine Potter's Market and attracted much attention for us with her brilliant writing and well connected press credentials.
Although I don't think Katey will write your blog, ;-) I do hope you will find Katey indispensable for all of your other writing needs. Here is what one of Katey's clients said recently of their collaboration,

“It is through the honest and intelligent interaction between visual art and writing that the subtle undercurrents of ideas can be revealed and appreciated. Through dialogues, interviews, and conversations, Katey's clear and smart voice time and time again unveils the embedded language of form and content in my creative expression. She is a pleasure to work with, open and diligent, clever and sophisticated in her analysis. I would recommend her to anyone seeking a professional and talented arts writer.” -- Cristina Cordova, ceramic sculptor

I have added a link to Katey's writing services for artists in the top of the sidebar. If you're like me, you probably have your hands full enough with the clay and don't always have the time and attention needed to update your artist statement, or send out press releases, or send email newsletters out as frequently as you should. Maybe you're applying for a grant, or a scholarship? Katey's your writer. Get in touch by clicking the link at the top of the right sidebar! You'll be happy you did. She's really awesome.

Well, it's back to the studio for me. I hope you have a great week!

Addendum: Here is a great post about the importance of those who write about art!

Processing the Process

Michael Kline

Everywhere I walk today is a now familiar squishing sound. The clay beneath my boots is saturated with the rain. On the hill and in the shallows behind my house, squish. I suppose it could be solidly frozen or covered with snow. That wouldn't be bad.

I've struggled and deleted a couple of drafts to this return to the blog. Soggy brain, I suppose.

As you might have guessed by some of the previous picture only posts, I have been looking at my pots thought the lens of my camera. Seeing the pots through the camera and the subsequent viewing on the desktop photo software give one a very different view of one's work. It takes the same rigor that one develops over the years to imagine the pots after we've treated them with slips, glazes and fire or heat. The ceramic process is somewhat of a dream that is usually idealistic and never incorporates the slightly uneven firing, or the glaze applied too thickly, or the number of things that can happen during a firing. Nor does this dream imagine the wonderful things that are somewhat mysterious and surprising about the process of finishing clay that renders it into a hardened ceramic pot.

But the perspective that the camera and the photo process give, help me to see the details of the pots that in a different way. Similar to the distance that time gives after a firing. The ceramic dream gets revised and the reality of the finished pots sinks in.

So, like Rip van Winkle, I slowly wake up from my long blog sleep and dream about the pots I will make in the coming weeks. The blog helps me to process the process and understand the results of the kiln. I look forward to sharing it all with you here. I hope you will come along with me.

Thanks for reading.

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