December 28, 2014

Think Big! Online Course

Exciting news! Starting January 6th, ceramic artists, Ben Carter, of the Tales of a Red Clay Rambler podcast, and Molly Hatch will be offering a super e-course, Think Big!

From the course description:

In today's art market, artist's have to be more than just makers. We are marketers, sales people, web designers, and so much more. Think Big! is a six week series of interviews with successful ceramic artists, art agents, dream clients and book editors. This series of interviews are designed to help you build the skills you need to expand your creative business, learn some tricks of the trade and think beyond the traditional methods of reaching your market. Click here to register today, or give the e-course as an unique holiday gift for your creative loved ones. Register before January 6th and pay just $99!

Molly and Ben will be joined by these amazing guests who will share their stories and advice,
Week 1:  Meredith Host, potter

Week 2:  Klein Reid, ceramic designers 

Week 3:  Whitney Smith, potter and blogger

Week 4:  Arlene Scanlan, Co-Founder Moxie & Co.
Week 5:  Mary Ann Hall, Editorial Director Quarry Books & Rockport Publishers
Week 6:  Jennifer Rome- Head of Artist Collaborations for Anthropologie Home

Buy Now 

How does the E-course work?
Each week has a themed conversation built around a topic that will help you discover ways to find new audiences, market your business, sell your work, and collaborate with larger companies. These interviews are available at your own pace and will be released once a week for six consecutive weeks. After all the lectures have been posted, you will have an additional six weeks to access course information and bonus materials.

We encourage participants to discuss the videos each week with a prompted discussion group online. Through the discussion board you can connect with other members of the series and reflect on questions and new ideas that come up for you each week. Molly and I will be watching the group discussions and joining in to add our experience with the topic. The discussions are ongoing and accessible throughout the entire series, so you can participate at your own pace, regardless of your time zone.

In addition to the weekly interviews and discussions we will post downloadable worksheets that will help you define your marketing message and come up with new ways to promote your business. The worksheets are for you to keep and work through as you engage with the course material. By the end of the six weeks, you will have gathered new thoughts and ideas, and you will have a clear direction moving forward in your creative business--on to BIG THINGS!

Sound good? I think everybody, no matter what level you are operating at, can benefit from these very successful and innovative artists, designers, and industry insiders. As a matter of fact, I'm going to be taking the course, because I'm always learning! 

So, I hope that you will will join me in this online course. It's going to be fun and insightful!

Buy Now

November 20, 2014

Episode 6 - Courtney Martin

In this episode I talk with my friend, neighbor, and fellow Snow Creek Rd potter, Courtney Martin. We talk about cooking and the pots we like to use serving meals to friends and family, as well as my recent trip to DC, Courtney’s beginnings as a potter, and some of Courtney’s thoughts on pattern. We also answer your questions! We hope you enjoy the conversation!

Names We Drop

Bowl by Matt Kelleher

Show Links


 Follow Courtney 

Follow Michael 
Exhibition and other Show Links

POW!!! kickstarter project
"Days of Endless Time", at the Hirshhorn Museum 
Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show 
Pottery on the Hill 
Spruce Pine Potters Market 
Signature Show 
TRAC Studio Tour

"Thank" Courtney  on Twitter!

Thanks for listening!!

Check out this episode!

November 7, 2014

Episode 5 : Nick Joerling Part 2

In Episode 5 of the podcast I continue my conversation with Penland potter, Nick Joerling. Nick has been a member of the community around the Penland School of Crafts for many years and his roadside studio is a favorite to visit.

Find out more about Nick here.

Nick and I at his Penland, NC studio

Episode Highlights

  • living and working in the Penland community
  • recording the object
  • a funny story about ye olde pug mill
  • Jack's 20 Questions
  • words and pots
  • Nick's literary queues
  • food, lust, and pottery
  • using pots or not
  • taking chances and playing
  • the
    boundaries that potters work within
Names We Drop
mug by Nick Joerling
Show Links
Follow Nick
Follow Michael

Podcast Apps

I have been using and loving the Downcast podcast app. I totally recommend it!

You might also like to try Overcast. It's a simple yet powerful app and it looks beautiful as well! So many options! ;-)

Thanks SO much for listening!

October 19, 2014

Episode 4: Nick Joerling, Part 1

In Episode 4 of the podcast I have a rollicking talk with Penland potter, Nick Joerling. Nick has been a member of the community around the Penland School of Crafts for many years and his roadside studio is a favorite to visit.

Find out more about Nick here.

Episode Highlights
  • living and working in the Penland community
  • perception of time and the accelerated life
  • Thinking, Fast and Slow
  • hot and cold
  • gut flora and our desire for food
  • the "eagerness to pour" and beak placement on pouring pots
  • Nick's literary queues
  • Nick's early days as a pugger and potter in California
  • turning points in life
  • Time and timing in terms of the material of clay 

Names We Drop
Follow Michael
Questions or comments for Nick?

Thanks SO much for listening!

I promise to improve my recordings and give you a better audio in the future.

October 7, 2014

September 19, 2014

Episode 3: Courtney Martin

In Episode 3 I begin a series of conversations with my good friend and neighbor Courtney Martin.

Episode Highlights
  • the economics of reclaiming clay scraps
  • trying to keep up with popular culture while living in rural NC
  • graffiti and 80's hip hop
  • hoarding bisqueware
  • living near in the Penland School community
  • puttering vs. getting straight to work
Episode Rsources
Names We Drop
 Follow Courtney 
Follow Michael 
Exhibition Links
"Two", Lark and Key, Charlotte, NC
"Greetings From North Carolina" Santa Fe Clay Santa Fe, NM
"Designed and Crafted 14"Signature Contemporary Crafts Atlanta, GA

"Thank" Courtney for the conversation on Twitter

Thanks for listening!!

September 8, 2014

Coffee Break vol. 35

Did I hear someone say #MugshotMonday? Or is just an echo in my memory?

Well neither, actually. It's just another volume in the undying series, Coffee Breaks™here at the Sawdust and Dirt BLOG, not to be confused with the podcast of the same name. This is about the clickety clack sound of the old keyboard but I must admit it is a reprint from another "blogging" platform. But, BOY, can i drop links into THIS format like nobodies business!

At any rate, here is the blog post I set out to cross post in the first place,

I met Marsha Owen at the Penland School of Crafts 25 years ago in a workshop being taught by GA potter Michael Simon. I also met Sam Taylor, Aaron Weissblum, Jane Shellenbarger, Suze Lindsay, and Mark Shapiro! It was quite a group. We were all young and wanting to be potters. Sam had only been making pots for a little over a year.

Suze and Jane were #corefellows at Penland, I had graduated from UTK and had only made pots for 5 years. Mark was probably the most experienced one being a little older than us and making pots since high school. We see each other from time to time.

We were all very much imprinted by Michael's demos and just being together working and playing at Penland for those 3 weeks changed us. Marsha and Suze and myself went on to be Penland resident artists. (at different times) and I teamed up with Mark and Sam (and Aaron for a time) as the brothers in clay in western Massachussetts. We lived and breathed pots.

For the last two winters Marsha has been to Penland to work in the #winterstudio at #Penland and we fired the salt kiln together. This paddled cup was in our valentine's day firing and Marsha gave it to me. But it has been sitting in the office at Penland with a little note. So today, I finally get to drink out of it and think of Marsha and all the rest.

Objects have all kinds of ways of engaging us with their forms, colors, and the memories they can evoke.

September 6, 2014

Episode 2: Lindsay Rogers

In this episode I talk with Asheville artist-potter, Lindsay Rogers.

We talk about moving to Asheville, NC, life after graduate school, and her work at Haywood Community College.

For you inside pottery listeners we talk about working alone vs in a group situation, commuting and the transition from home to studio. We discuss a video by the Portland Growler Company and Commercial/Industrial appropriation of the small scale/handmade which led to mention of David Pye’s discussion of the workmanship of risk vs workmanship of certainty.

More studio insider talk about how much to make, and producing numbers and Lindsay’s time working for Natchez, Mississippi potter Conner Burns Do deadlines kill spontaneity or do they give us structure in our workflow? I mention my sketching of pattern idea on paper plates and the intrinsic values of materials and creativity Lindsay describes the evolution of her current designs and the Bull and Beggar event

(Wanna go to the bull and beggar restaurant in Asheville, NC?)

You can find out more about Lindsay Rogers and her ceramics at her

Subscribe to the podcast on itunes or stitcher!

Thanks for listening!!
Get updates by email or send us an email!

Leave a review or rating on iTunes! It will help others like us find the show!

August 26, 2014

Back To School

After 14 years of "independent study, I am watching and learning as a student! I have enrolled in Brian R Jones 7th Session Class at Penland. The experience so far has been really expansive!

Watching another artist work is always enlightening and can be great sport. Although physically it's passive, watching stimulates change in my way of thinking and is quite the springboard. After Brian's shadow drawing exercise/demo Monday morning we all sprang into action grabbing bisque pots from the upper shelves of the "boneyard" in the Penland upper clay studio.

I chose this Jan McKeachie vase grouping after trying a couple of other pots that didn't quite have the right shadow that appealed to my sensibilities. The next part of the exercise was to look at the shadows that the piece cast. I went outside with black tar paper or sheathing and a piece of chalk. 

observing the shadows 
drawing shadows and cutting them out

rearranging repeated shapes to come up with other shapes

transferring these forms to blue insulating board

cutting out shapes to use as molds for dishes
  As I write this I realize I am late for class! SO I will try to resume this blog later today with more pictures and thoughts. Sorry to cut this post short. Follow me on instagram for in progress pics.


July 21, 2014

The Sawdust and Dirt Podcast, Finally!

Numero Uno!

Sometimes we start projects without really knowing why. We have an impulse, or we like what someone else is doing and want to try it ourselves. I have always been fascinated with the web and the potential it had, especially for our generation of potters and the work we were making.

At Ron Philbeck’s Potter’s Journal blog, I got to know a fellow who was journaling almost daily from his studio in Shelby, NC just down the road from me.
From his blog I was led to England and Scotland to a bunch of potters there who were blogging, there. Naturally I wanted in on the fun. I have always had the impulse to share what I know and the blog was a great way to share.

Pretty soon after I began posting in 2007, there were dozens and dozens of other potters joining in and there was a whole network of folks talking to each other and sharing ideas, encouraging one another.
Reading my blog roll was probably the first thing I did every morning.
In much the same spirit I begin this podcast.

I devour podcasts of all kinds. For years I have loved listening to interviews on public radio. I’ve loved listening to radio all my life. As a kid I had a transistor radio that I carried wherever I went, much like I do now with my phone. And when I heard the Brian R Jonescast for the first time I got really excited and binged on all the shows that were available. Brian’s podcast led me to Ben Carter’s The Tales of a Red Clay Rambler podcast and again there was much binging!!

So with encouragement from those guys I began to consider getting in on the fun, myself! And after much audio recording obsession and geeking out with various gadgets, I’m very excited to welcome you to the Sawdust and Dirt Podcast.

For this first episode Ron Philbeck, Kyle Carpenter and I get together for some serious shop talk. Apologies for our "inside baseball" talk. We hope to share some of our thoughts and experiences about being potters.

Here are some links to today's episode

Kyle Carpenter Pottery 
Ron Philbeck Pottery
Michael Kline Pottery

Sorry for the odd sounds at some points, the editing was a nightmare, a story to long to tell, here. I hope you enjoy the podcast.

Thanks for listening, please subscribe and leave us a rating in iTunes if you would be so kind! Please share with your friends and family!

July 14, 2014

Fresh Pots for Hilltown 6 and all my western Massachusetts Peeps

June 19, 2014

Creatives Conundrum

I just posted a few companion notes for my "social media for creatives" lecture over at my web site and wanted to share that info with you all as well.

Along with that is this great  segment of the Gary Vaynerchuk interview that I posted a while back. Great stuff. I couldn't embed the start time to the specific segment I wanted to share, but you can fast forward to this segment. But the whole interview is great!

Hope everybody out there is enjoying summer!

June 9, 2014

The Index Is Updated for June

I haven't been able to get around to updating the Facebook Ceramic Index in a while (since late April). So it was time to crunch the numbers and share with you the movers and shakers in the Facebook ceramics realm. If you're not into the Facebook, my apologies, (RP & KC).

My hope is that you will discover some new artists and that artists will reach new collectors/fans!

A little how to. You can see the complete list, here. Each artist's box is scrollable. If you are logged in to your FB acct, you can like posts from here, but will be taken to the fb page if you click on comment.

If you have a FB page for your ceramic work and aren't included on the big list, (sorry no personal pages acting like biz pages) leave a comment here with your FB URL.


May 16, 2014

Ceramic Arts Daily News

Good Friday to you all. I'm very busy on my last wet days, checking off forms on the making list before deco-rotating next week!

Every Friday I get a little email delivered to my inbox from Ceramic Arts Daily telling me about all the good stuff they do over there and it always includes some really great content! Today my neighbor Liz Zlot Summerfield demos using templates to sketch and create her beautiful forms!

Ironically, I just sent in an outline for my very own DVD to be shot here next month! I am a little anxious, but very excited to be asked to show my techniques to be compiled in a DVD for Ceramic Arts  Daily. Watch for that DVD in the near future!

Here's Liz's demo from her DVD, "Handbuilt Forms with Soft Slabs". Enjoy.

May 5, 2014


Hi everyone out there,

I'm still making baby steps toward releasing my Sawdust and Dirt podcast and get closer each day. Pots are being made and gardens are being planted, too!

Today I just wanted to direct you to one of my favorite podcasts, The Brian R Jonescast.

Brian recently sat down with Silvie Granatelli and recorded their conversation. It's Brian's 50th release and it's his best to date! IMHO

courtesy of Brian R Jones.
There are too many words of wisdom from Silvie to publish here, but one of my favorites comes toward the end of the talk. Brian asks how Silvie feels about her legacy as a mentor to so many,
"And whether they are potters or not, I never really cared. It was just that [they] made the commitment during those two years that they would pretend that they were potters and tried to see what it felt like. “ah, that’s what it took.” Because when you start [out], you’re pretending."
I completely agree!

I feel that way as a parent sometimes and I've tried to explain to my daughters that we're all in this life together going into it, trying to do our best at something we have little experience with. We learn and we grow.

Congrats Brian! I look forward to many more of your interviews.


April 28, 2014

To Every Season

every season, turn, turn, turn

April seems to slip away so quickly.  It opens up from the seemingly endless possibilities that grow from winter's longing. My arms reach out, hands letting go of their opposing elbows, my face looks into the sun, feeling the heat, but blinded by the light!


OH! OK, I may not be the poet I think I am, HA!

Am I the potter I think I am?

Teaching, traveling, and showing my work  in various locales over the past couple of month's has me looking at my clay endeavor with new eyes. Traveling opens the eyes and upon returning home, I gain new perspectives.

And so another session in my studio begins. This one for the 49th firing of my wood kiln. The scraps of of failed pots and the trimmings of others has been slaked down/pugged, ready to be resurrected/raised into new pots.

There is always SO much hope in this season of the year and in this part of the firing cycle.

Raw clay is nothing but potential, ready for shape, ready to shape.

April 22, 2014

This Month's Top 10

Here are the past month's fastest moving Facebook Ceramics Pages. The complete list is here. The current FB Index lists 324 ceramics artist's pages and is growing. Please leave a comment here if you want to suggest your FB Page or one of your faves. Currently the list is only for individual studios. Thanks for all your comments and continued support of this project!

How to: Each artist box is scrollable but at the moment you can't comment or like the content here on this page. But if you click on something you find interesting you will be taken to that content on Facebook. You do not need to be signed into FB, but if you are you can then leave comments and "like" content.  Have fun discovering new artists on FB!

Wait For It

Are you giving the world the work you love, or grinding it out?

Here's a short with Justin Timberlake talking about putting out only his best. We don't always have the luxury of time that someone like JT has to refine his music, but he gives his insight to the ideal output of an artist.

I first heard this segment in a podcast called "Life in the Woods" by Blake Stratton. I couldn't embed the podcasts here, but you can go to this link to hear the original. It's a fairly short segment and poses interesting questions for us creative individuals.

March 31, 2014

Top Movers and Shakers

I just inloaded a kiln full of pots and will be shipping the best of the bunch to Dallas for this weekend's Dallas Pottery Invitational. I can't wait to see all of the potters and their pots at the show. Maybe I will see some of you? Let me know if you are going!

I'm a little late with this week's top facebook Ceramic Artists Pages but thanks to Scott for getting these numbers to me! The pages are listed in order of highest percentage change of new fans since last week. Congrats to all the active artists providing interesting content to their ever growing Facebook followers!

March 26, 2014

Some Painted Pots and The Village Potter

All the pots are bisqued
and the glaze is stirred
 I picked up my brush...

the last bisque with glaze test tiles for Courtney Martin
natures patterns are everywhere! even in a bisque firing!

step by step vine instructions (clockwise)
more pattern, less negative space

Ahh, can't finish this!  (to the tune of Mingei-sota Dreaming, or is that California Dreamin'???)

Staying up late painting pots has once again dulled my recall.

I strive, (I really do!) each session, to refine my painting, to push it to a slightly different place. I guess it might look like the same old @klineola ware, but i hope the patterns are more nuanced, more fluid each time.

I like these just the way they are but the glaze and firing will make these functional and add another layer of subtlety.

coffee break with my newish  Matthew Schiemann mug

Way behind schedule, but, as promised, a few pics of my painting progress, and a link to a great article I just read while taking my coffee break!

Read about the island of misfit pots: The Village Potter

OK! Back to work!

March 25, 2014

Calling All Clayers

Diana Fayt is doing it again! Join her next month for a brand new online Clayer e-course.

Click here to visit The Clayer website and join the fun. Here's a fun little teaser video!

The Clayer E-Course: Part Two from Diana Fayt on Vimeo.

Deco-Rotation Beginnings

I'm afraid I might be painting myself into a corner (again)!

Just back from conferencing, yet again, and not enough time to get all the ideas that I've had for surface treatments onto all of these pots. Oh my.

But I'm off to a good start, though, and the brushes feel good. New things always happen and its hard to hold back from trying new motifs, etc. But time is always the party pooper.

So, I'll be brief and get back to the bisque straight away. I'll continue to post regularly here and might try to put down some thoughts during this sit-down-and-paint-some-pots day or two.

Thanks for reading.

snowed last night and the studio light is very bright. :-)

March 24, 2014

Mark Making:Painting: José Parlá video

Sometimes, here on the internet, someone [thanks David Ernster] will share content with you with a kind of perfect timing. A timing that parallels something you might be thinking about and validates. As I sit here painting pots I was thrilled to hear what José Parlá says about mark making and language. I thought I would share this video with you so when you find it it might speak to you as well.

The Fancy Shape

Just back from NCECA 2014 and there's so much to catch up on.
Stay tuned for some awesome(hopefully) deco this week and some thoughts on fanciness!

Do you listen to podcasts while you work? I do and I would totally recommend this one. It's all about a the fancy shape! Check it out.

March 23, 2014

Shakers and Movers Week 12

I just got back from a wonderful NCECA conference in Milwaukee. Today is my decompression AND my re-entry day, all in one. So, as I get ready to wield some brushes to deco some pots, I offer you this week's climbers on the FB Ceramic Index, courtesy of Butterfly Bend potter, Scott Williamson.  If you have a FB page for your ceramic art and aren't listed, please leave me a comment with your URL. I'll list you ASAP.

Stay tuned for some new deco this week as well as a post about my time at #NCECA2014!

March 17, 2014

Guest Blogger: NCECA Prep

Editor's note: this is a rebroadcast of Simon Levin's blogpost from a couple years ago. It still makes me laugh. Happy Monday's y'all!

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