March 31, 2011

Not in Kansas

I arrived in Tampa, Fla. yesterday afternoon just minutes ahead of my buddy Mark Shapiro, who was flying in from the NE. We hooked up with Jack Troy and Carol Ann and headed into town. The weather has been stormy but thanks to my Gore-Tex rain coat i was able to get around pretty comfortably.

We registered at the conference and headed into the vendor show and looked over some pretty cool new tools over at Michael Sherrill's Mudtools booth. I should explain, here, that I haven't found a way to get my pictures off of my camera, yet.
[insert picture of cool fluting too when that happens]

I joked about my insufficient equipment for reporting yesterday, and now I'm realizing that it's no joke.

Then we had a nice convo with Janet Mansfield, and looked at her new publications. I asked her if she would ever consider being a guest blogger. She seemed very interested, although she admitted to not reading blogs. ;( we'll have to change that! ;)
[insert picture of her (extremely beautiful new monograph]

There's more about Wednesday but I'm off to Pete Pinnell's talk on the art if drinking. From what I saw last night at Gilligan's, that's something these conventioneers are pretty good at.

I'll be updating throughout the day when wifi is available. In the meantime you can get updates on my Twitter feed. Just go to my twitter feed.

Coming up: LA MESA video! and Art Stream pics! [insert crossed fingers]
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

NCECA: Simon's Senior Moment

I would like to take a little time here in my blog post where I turn the focus off of the big name folks in the fancy K-12 exhibition. While at NCECA I took a little of my valuable time to talk to the young people especially those to who are graduating and going off into the big world. I feel its important for me to give back to the community and if I can help by letting them bask in my presence for just a little bit and it makes me look like I care, then as my publicist says, "I should do it". So I would like to introduce a new feature to the Simon Says blog, that I like to call "Simon's Senior Moment"

I interviewed young Benjamin Zimmerman. Ben is graduating from high school this year and has chosen to attend the NCECA conference. Ben was inspired by his high-school art teacher Brian Kovachik and wanted to see what the world of clay had to offer. Ben said "It's really opened my eyes. I didn't know there was so much pottery." Ben a talented young student leaves high-school for a degree program in Petroleum Engineering. Perhaps with some of that huge salary he will earn he can buy some of all that pottery, hang on NCECA people Ben is coming to help!

This Senior Moment has been brought to you by Sawdust and Dirt.

Simon Levin is a regular contributor to Sawdust and Dirt. He lives and makes pots in Gresham, WI. When Simon is not making or firing pots, fighting fires, or caring for his lovely family, he is creating such wonders as WikiClay! To find out more about Simon Levin and his pottery go to If you have questions for Simon he can be reached at otherwise please leave comments for Simon here!

March 29, 2011

Simon Says: NCECA Prep

As we pulled onto the highway headed for NCECA it occurred to me that finally I am one of the merging artists this year. Much thought and preparation has gone into this year’s trip. My bag is filled with swag and I have honed some techniques to make my NCECA experience the best it can be. Let me share with you some of the helpful tools I plan to employ.

The over the shoulder crowd survey
This is a common tool used by those who want to make the most of their time. When catching up with an old friend make sure you keep looking over his or her shoulder for someone else with more status. Perhaps someone well known that you would like to be seen talking to, or someone whose ego you would like to massage hoping they can give your career a boost. Never be afraid to trade up, NCECA will soon be over.

 Make sure you have your “I don’t remember you but want to seem like I do” phrases ready.

You will need these. Let me share a few that imply varying degrees of false intimacy.

  • “Heeeeyyyyyyy”. Draw this one out, the less you remember the person the longer this greeting should be. It may give you time to recollect and the lag time suggests pleasure and enthusiasm at seeing this stranger.
  •  “Wow, you have lost weight”. Always a good way to go, unless they are a recent amputee.
  •  “Did that rash ever clear up”?
  •  “I always enjoy your status updates on Facebook”.
  •  “What ever happened with that paternity test”. Note: This is fine to ask women as well as men.
  • “Got that $20 you owe me?” You never know, and if you insist enough you can always settle and let them buy you lunch.

 At NCECA be prepared to see some crappy work.

 You must be armed with vaguely upbeat but non-committal comments that suggest interest but cover your dismay, disgust or nausea. Here are a few.

  •  Interesting
  •  Look at that!
  •  You price your work way too cheap.
  •  That ‘s bold!
  •  How much time did you spend on that?
  •  I have never seen work like this.
  •  I admire your courage to present work like this.
  •  Now that’s a handle!
  •  I didn’t think it could be done, but you have ruined dirt.
  •  How many poo-flinging monkeys helped you with this?
  •  You have raised the bar for craptastic work everywhere.

And finally you will find yourself in deep and meaningful conversations that you cannot wait to get away from.

 In these situations you will need a few polite ways to excuse yourself immediately. Feel free to use any of these:

  • What time is it? Oh man I need to run.
  • Oh there goes my ride.
  • I am sorry but there is a lecture I really want to hear. (This one is hard to make sound truthful, I mean, holy cow, people talk so much at NCECA. Really how much can you say about dirt. I’d probably listen more if it was about me or Jersey Shore.)
It is always better if you can subtly make them want to end the conversation allowing you to leave still seeming interested in them as a person. So for the more advanced NCECA attendee try these:
  • Do you have $50 bucks I can borrow?
  • The infection is highly contagious; do you have any lip balm I can borrow?
  • Whoops there goes my Irritable Bowell Syndrome
  • Do you have any crack on you?
  • My therapist says I am due for a beserker rage any day now.
Anyway I am looking forward to my time at NCECA this year. You will find me looking over the shoulder of one of my nearest and dearest friends.

Simon Levin is an irregular contributor to Sawdust and Dirt. He lives and makes pots in Gresham, WI. When Simon is not making or firing pots, fighting fires, or caring for his lovely family, he is creating such wonders as WikiClay! To find out more about Simon Levin and his pottery go to

Tampa Bound!

Hopefully these shoes were made for walking, because I'm going to be doing a lot of it in Tampa this week at the annual NCECA conference! I'm heading down there tomorrow and in planning for the work, realized I needed something to carry around all of my gear so that i could do the mobile blogging thing. Wooo Hoo!

Sawdust & Dirt will be the premier pottery blog covering the event with official press credentials. I'll be joined by Simon Levin and Mark Shapiro to cover the conference and hopefully we can get words and pictures up to the web for those of you who can't be there. I'm not sure if I'll look like a typical media guy with this backpack, but I figured the red color would be easy to locate if I wander away from it. I may be a little hampered by not having a laptop, or a smartphone, and I'm sure I'll be scoffed at by ceramics students with all of their up to date gadgetry. But I have my ways of using the tools at hand.

So I'll be tweeting from @klineola and Mark, Simon, and myself will be sending up blog posts here in the coming days, so I hope that you will be able to come along.

If you know of any online NCECA stuff you would like me to post please send those to me. As I find out about content that you can access from your device I will post that also.

OK, now to fill up that backpack with batteries, chargers, camera.....Am I forgetting something?

March 28, 2011

The Load Out

The best part about doing any show is also the most tedious, packing the truck. Here is Alex heading home after the Catawba Valley Pottery Festival. Too bad nobody picked that beautiful jar! Somebody will. Maybe at Alex's first kiln opening/home sale in April.

March 22, 2011

37 Unloaded

What a gorgeous day in the neighborhood, warm temps, warm breezes, and warm pots from the venerable old wood kiln. Well, it's not that old, only 37 firings. But as I mentioned in an earlier posts, it needs some maintenance and some TLC.

Here are some shots I took, as I do every firing, of the stack (after) and some details showing location and results. I'll take more shots tomorrow as I continue to replay what might have happened in the kiln and what I might do next time. Those will spotlight pots that I find particularly nice.

These mugs both have 6-tile kaolin slip and Michael (Simon)'s black slip. But the one on the left was fired in the back of the kiln where it was cooler and the other in the front, ∆9 was down, but ∆10 was just bending.

Leave a Comment Contest!!!

Here's your chance to win a $20 pottery gift certificate! Simply leave any comment here on this post or tomorrow's post. Evelyn and I will do the video drawing on Thursday!

Just leave your words of wisdom and wit, regret or pity, here on the blog and you will be qualified! Comments and "likes" on Facebook, as much as they are appreciated, will not be counted. That goes for tweets as well. Sorry.

OK, let me know what you think!

If you have trouble logging in to my commenting service, just email your comments to me and I will post them for all to read.


This Just In: 12am EST

I love the pink tones in the white slip

This is for the night owls and those over the pond. (or you may be looking at this blog from the future, in which case, could you tell me if the rest of the kiln looks this good?)

here is our moon peeking over Bailey's Peak

Tomorrow, Tuesday, this week's contest, and new pots!

Night-Night, y'all!

March 20, 2011

Beat-up Old Kiln/Beat-up Old Potter

As the title of this post implies, this potter is feeling like his kiln, a little worse for wear. Ironically, throwing the pots, working the clay doesn't dry my hands out as much as wadding pots and loading the kiln. Wadding the pots is hard to do with gloves on, and the frequent washing (to remove the layer of wadding and glue from my finger tips) is hard on the skin. Handling the silicon carbide shelves and all of the craggly kiln furniture doesn't help much, either. Then throw in a few times that I grab something hot during the firing with the hole-e glove and you get really dry and hypersensitive hands. My hands feel a little like the skin of this kiln!

But with that whining aside, the firing of the wood kiln went fantastically well. The crew was awesome, the peanut M & M's flowed and the meals were plentiful! John Simmons and Kyle Carpenter were on hand to help finish the kiln after I spent the first 9 hours stoking solo. We missed my Ichiban Stoker, Alan Gratz. Alan was on book tour promoting his new novel, "Fantasy Baseball"! John Simmons was the closer, stoking the kiln for the final 4 hours, while Kyle assisted with the new and improved salting system. It would have been impossible to do this myself. I should also thank my wife, Stacey, for all that she has had to put up with this last week or so, and for her constant support (and fine cookin')!!

And now for the abbreviated Index for 37:
  • Dry wood and a gusty wind helped the kiln climb fast and we finished in 12.5 hours
  • We used half the wood than usual
  • We used a bout 30 lbs. of salt where I usually use 20-25.
  • The kiln was loaded with 300 pots
For now though, it's waiting. I'm trying hard not to have high hopes or great expectations and I'm squashing any paranoid fantasies with the excitement of seeing a kiln full of new pots!

In other News: I'm taking some down time these cooling days to catch up on all the projects that need attention. One of these projects is wring the Spring Newsletter. If you want to receive it go to my email sign up page and sign up!

Unfortunately last weekend's contest didn't happen due to the attention needed to load and fire the kiln. And next weekend's contest will not happen because I will be away selling pottery in Hickory, NC.

So we will hold a 'leave a comment' contest mid week when I unload the kiln, I promise! Look for it!

March 18, 2011

Friday Message

It's been quite a run these last couple of days, but the kiln and most of the pots are ready to be loaded! Everything is wadded and the first shelves are in the kiln.The weather is absolutely gorgeous with a warm breeze.

John Simmons is doing some stem and leaf designs on some flower pots and I'm doing some last minute painting. I'll posts pictures of some of the pots I've been painting as well as announce this week's giveaway contest.

So don't stray!


March 17, 2011


Just enough time this morning to show some pictures of yesterday's painting highlights! Glazing today, loading the wood kiln in the 'morrow.

Congratulations to Michael Alvis for winning last week's comment contest. It's so much fun, we'll give away another $20 gift certificate soon. Look for the announcement and tell your pottery loving friends.

Have a great day.

March 16, 2011

Today's Muse

Here is my inspiration today, courtesy of Evelyn! I painted a few birds yesterday, but few had the confidence and the look of this one. The lines are so casual and right on.

March 15, 2011

Gift Certificate Winner Announcement!

Black, White, Blue, & Gold

The painting has begun for my wood kiln firing! But these are not those...

In the previous post I had a web cam shot of the blue and white swirl yunomi with gold lustre. I spent a fair amount of futile time trying to photograph these pots and others. Shooting pictures for the blog is one thing. Having crisp color correct images for publication and print is a whole other thing. Maybe it's time to hire these out. Anyway, here, for your perusal...

bugs by Stacey!

In other news, the drawing for the gift certificate will happen this afternoon after my daughters come home from school, have a snack, and are prepped by the L' Oréal makeup team. So come back this evening a see the drawing video!

Back to my brushes!

March 12, 2011

Blue, White, and Gold

Here is a pot that was fired in today's lustre firing (cone 018). I've been busy finishing up the pots for the wood kiln and didn't have time to properly photograph the ones that Stacey and I painted this morning. I'll try soon, promise! Since I had this one down at the house, I snapped this shot with the ole web cam.

My "leave a comment" contest is still on and since I'm leaving early in the a.m. to go to Seagrove and the NC Pottery Center's annual meeting, I won't be able to do the drawing with the gals until Monday. That means that any comment left here on the blog on any post(NOT ON FACEBOOK OR TWITTER) between now and Sunday midnight, EST. will qualify for this weeks gift certificate.

OK, Thanks.

March 11, 2011

Randomness and A Giveaway

Here are some tankards that I poured slip over, leaving some random bare clay between pours. This may be a case of necessity as the muse.

My bucket of slip wasn't quite deep enough for the full dip and I opted to pour. My reaction was really positive after seeing the pattern created from the missed areas. I've done this before, and I know a lot of folks who do this as well. Kyle Carpenter does a nice job of this kind of pour.

What do you think of these?

Leave a comment and qualify for this week's $20 gift certificate! The drawing will be held this weekend if I can get Evelyn and Lillian to do their thing! That should be the easiest thing I've done all week!


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Crunch Time

not a knob

[disclaimer: If this post seems kind of random, it is!]

Too many things are going on here at the same time. Maybe only in my mind, but blogging has taken a backseat to my daily tasks. And just like a backseat driver, it keeps barking at me to write, to post, to edit and share. With the usual rush to the finish, there are less opportunities to stop and reflect. I thought I would heed the backseat and post a few pictures that may allude to what's going on around here with the risk of completely under-reporting.

Earlier this week I made my travel plans to Tampa and the NCECA conference, where Simon Levin, Mark Shapiro , and I will be reporting on lectures, demos, etc. I don't know what it is, but I cannot seem to either, make up my mind, or make good decisions when it comes to these kinds of online transactions, so thank you Stacey for handling this for me!

In the midst of last minute throwing in prep for my upcoming wood firing, I headed up to Penland to watch the amazing potters from Jingdezhen, China who are on tour after their demos at this years NC Pottery Conference in Asheboro. They were all pretty amazing in their individual skills. Unlike our potters, here, these folks do only one task, i.e. throwing, trimming, under glaze painter, enamel painter, hand builder. And they do it masterfully. I wish I had more time to show some of the videos I shot, but...someday in my dreams I'll be able to edit and share!

I'm mostly throwing my home clay and Highwater's Zellastone. I'm making tankards, mugs, cereal bowls, jars(large and small). The table and shelves are filled up with pots covered in plastic, waiting for a moment of attention, a handle or two, a dip in some slip. They are all so patient! More pots to throw today, then I really have to call it quits. Otherwise there will be a big crashing sound and a burning smell! We don't want that!

random picture of pastoral calm

I have a contest in the wings for Saturday, and will post more pics of the goings on in the shop in the coming days. So see you then!

March 6, 2011


Simon Levin is a regular contributor to Sawdust and Dirt. He lives and makes pots in Gresham, WI. When Simon is not making or firing pots, fighting fires, or caring for his lovely family, he is creating such wonders as WikiClay! To find out more about Simon Levin and his pottery go to If you have questions for Simon he can be reached at otherwise please leave comments for Simon here!

Must Reads

After a lapse of a month, here are my picks for this latest edition of Pottery Bloggery Must Reads. It's not that there isn't enough must read material out there, it's just that it's hard read it all, make pots, write a normal blog post, etc. yadda, yadda, yadda!

I could have just reprinted the last Must Reads and been fine with that. You can't go wrong reading any of those blogs. But as a self imposed rule, I've decided to try to widen the scope and spread the love around.

The first post is by Jeff Campana. The timing couldn't have been better for me as I explore porcelain clay bodies. In Clay Body Revisited, Jeff explains and justifies a thorough process of formulating, mixing, and testing a porcelain clay body. Check it out, here.

The next post is not really a blog post but an excellent article written by porcelain badass, Tom Turner. It's one of a slew of great articles Turner has posted on his web site. John Simmons told me about this article the other day, and after reading it, realized that it was a must read! I encourage you to check out the other articles out as well!

And lastly, Carter Gillies sent me to this blog about pottery, the creative process, and teaching written by Kelly Kessler. The thoughts are provocative and the writing is clear. I just kept scrolling down for more, a good sign of a must read! Kelly posts about every couple of days and I've added Kelly blog, Diving Into The Clay, to my blog roll, look for it!

That's it for now. If you have blog posts that you think are truly exception an have legs, please leave a link in the comments!

March 5, 2011

Contest Winner

Evelyn and Lillian helped with the contest tonight. Here is the video of the drawing and subsequent victory dance by Evelyn on behalf of this weeks winner!!

Thanks for everyone participating in this fun contest! I will tabulate the results of the survey as well. We'll do this again next week! Thanks for reading!

March 4, 2011


I sometimes wonder if I had a Monday through Friday kind of career, how I'd feel at 5 on a Friday!? Probably not this good!


It's been a staggered day of planning and potting. This is a big round jar I just added a coil to before I hang up my apron for today. So far it's about 13" tall and about 21" in diameter. I will put a couple more coils on and throw a lid for it!

Thanks for all of the great comments you all left on yesterday's post. If you haven't left a comment, there's still time. When you do you will qualify for Saturday's gift certificate giveaway! So what you waitin' for?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

March 3, 2011

Random Giveaway

Comment on your 5 favorites and qualify for a $20 Kline Pottery Gift Certificate that will be given away with random selector! After you leave your comment, you will be assigned a number for the drawing.

eKiln Sneak Peek-a-Boo

March 1, 2011

eKiln II Brief

I ask for your pardon if I don't elaborate on the painting session in preparation for today's eKiln firing. There's much to do . Here, for the record, are some highlights with coded deco-descriptions. I'm plugged in and ready to dial it up. I'll be watching that pyrometer and reading that meter!