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Swirling Pottery

During the winter residency at Penland School of Crafts Michael Kline came up for a visit and to do a demonstration of how he makes his variegated pots.  He has a few different techniques that he shared with us.  One was to make a sort of clay sandwich.  I've already tried this technique and wrote about it in a another post that you can read here so I won't right about it again.  The thing about doing the marbling that way is that if the clays are not the exact same consistency things can get wonky in a hurry.  They are nice looking and you get the variegation throughout the entire piece.  That was one of the reasons I want to fire them in the salt or soda kilns.

Micheal Kline's Stylish Demo
Michael also showed us a technique where he started throwing a pot then stopped after the second or third pull, made slits in the side of the pot with the square end of a trimming tool, then pushed coils of a different color clay into the slits.  This gives a nice marbled effect on the exterior of the pot but the interior is just one color.  It's an interesting effect.  I liked it because the glaze on the interior stays one color.  The pot can still get a little wonky while throwing and it's easier to put air bubbles under the coils but these issues are minor and easy to fix.

Yesterday I experimented with this technique.  I used Highwater's Phoenix with coils of Orangestone.  Both seem to have the same shrink rates so I feel like the pots will hold together really well.  I'm hoping to fire these pieces in the next wood firing I can participate in.  So far I like the look.  What do you think?
Variegated Pottery
You may have noticed Michael was wearing some interesting hats while giving the demos.  It's one of the reasons I did not take close up pictures, I couldn't resist the fashion statement.  The reality of it is that his daughters came along to the demo and he's not adverse to being playful with them even while he's being serious in a demo.  He's a good father and potter.

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff


  1. I know the slits-push-in technique too, and it looks good! It can save a lot of money when using something like blue colored clay because you use so much less colorant!

    1. That's a really good point Gary. Thanks for mentioning it.

  2. Oooh! Your vessels look great Lori! Thanks for writing up about the technique - I'm gonna give that a try!!

    1. Hi Rachel, good for you for wanting to try it. Post pictures so we can see how the pots come out.


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