Gary Jackson: Fire When Ready Pottery
A Chicago potter’s somewhat slanted view of clay & play
Categories: artists, bowls, clay

My friend Nancy had an opening tonight in the gallery of ClaySpace in Lisle, Illinois.
“A Feast of Bowls”... just bowls, nothing else. But bowls of all sizes & uses.

It was several years ago that Nancy and I were on a bike ride in southern Indiana when we stopped for lunch. While walking around Nashville, Indiana we stumbled upon a small potter’s studio. It was then that Nancy suggested we take a pottery class. She did the research and found Lillstreet Art Center in Chicago. We both took our Beginning Wheelthrowing class… and have never looked back. So it’s all HER fault that I now have this crazy clay addiction!!!

Anyway, enough about me… Nancy took some time off from clay to get married, have a kid and move to the suburbs. But is now back in full swing as a Resident Artist at ClaySpace in Lisle. It was fun to go out there tonight to support a good friend, see her beautiful bowls and explore another ceramic studio space.

“A Feast Of Bowls” runs through the end of the month if need a new bowl or two!

Click here for more of Nancy’s pottery.

Categories: ornaments

So the other day I got a sheep in the mail… kinda sounds like the set-up of a good joke, right? But no, really. One of my Facebook Fans sent me one of her handmade ornaments in the mail. Beautifully made with detailed textures on both sides. Thank you Debbie… it’s almost like you’re part of our Monthly Holiday Ornament Challenge???

Categories: bowls, stamped

The bowls from Tuesday night’s class demo have been under plastic wrap. And they’ve stiffened up to a good “wetter-side-of-leatherhard” stage. So I went through the bowls and did some stamping, accenting & detailing. Each one a little better than it was before…. and one step closer to be being done!

Bowl with a wide flange… now with a line of small stamps.

Bowl with the flower remark in the bottom from the dragonscale tool…
now with a scalloped edge done with a wooden tool

Bowl with a split rim and undulating curves.. now with a couple stamps & “beads” on the pinch points.

Bowl with chattered pattern through white slip… now with a “corded” rope rim.

Bowl ombre slip and concentric circles… now with a stamped rim to accentuate the circle in the bottom. And a few white dots to push it even a little further!

Bowl with a flared flange and fluted rim…. now with a row of stamps.

Bowl with “finger-squiggled” slip patterns… now with a textured rim made with a wooden tool.

Bowl with a flared flange… now with a row of stamps.

Bowl with banded & drawn-through white slip… now with a corded rim texture made with a bamboo skewer.

Bowl with a rolled-over hollow rim .. now stamped, and then “dented” with a square chopstick.

So now they’re all back under plastic for the night. Waiting for them to dry a bit more… so that I can hopefully trim them tomorrow.

Categories: mugs

Don’t forget… there’s only TWO DAYS left for my Online Mug Sale.
And there are still a few sweet mugs perfect for your special someone on Valentine’s Day!!! Sale ends Friday at midnight.

Click here to see which mugs are still available on my Facebook pottery page.

Categories: patterns, process
Categories: bowls, classes, pottery, process, production

Last night in my pottery class we made a LOT of bowls!!! We started with a demo of how to make a good basic bowl. A bowl on purpose instead of a cylinder gone bad. We talked about gaining control of the clay and having a plan when you start. Sit down at the wheel and know what you’re going to make before you even start centering the clay.

So I threw one bowl for my students… and then “released them” back to their own wheels. While they practiced, I threw 15 more bowls… all basically the same. Simple. Round. Plain. Then we reconvened for Part Two of the evening’s demo.

We discussed the importance of playing with the clay and making it your own. Anyone can make a simple bowl. But making it “special” is a lot more fun. So I went through some quick tricks they can all do to make their bowls a little more fun. And begin to express themselves past the plain, round bowl. And the importance of being diligent and committing to a design. Don’t be tentative… no one likes an “iffy” pot. To start making their bowls with a purpose.

Bowl #1 – Four simple finger twists giving four fluted details.

Bowl #2 – And if four is good, eight flutes might be better.

Bowl #3 – A thin flange flared out to create a wider, decorative rim.

Bowl #4 – And if thin is good, thicker might be better. A wide flanged bowl… kinda like the ones you get at a fancy restaurant. Large bowl with one little bite of food in the bottom.

Bowl #5 – So why not combine the two – flanged & fluted rim.

Bowl #6 – A hollow rolled rim to give a bit of visual “bulk” and a grooved spiral.

Bowl #7 – A simple flower made in the bottom of the bowl with a dragonscale tool.

Bowl #8 – A split rim, then pinched back together in four places.

Bowl #9 – A sweet split rim “fluted” out with a round stick tool.

Bowl #10 – Another split rim with four flouted OUTs, and four fluted IN’s!

Then we discussed the fun option of colored slips. Basically a layer of colored clay “skin” that they can paint onto their pots. It’s a quick & easy way to add some flair to the pots. And sure, you can paint them with slip and leave them plain… or…

Bowl #11 – A thick layer of white slip and a spiral created by dragging a wood tool through it while the bowl was still rotating on the wheel.

Bowl #12 – Another layer of white slip. A paintbrush spiral in the bottom. Then some horiziontal banding along the top made with a wood tool pressing through while rotating. Then a little “basket weave” pattern by simply dragging through the bands.

Bowl #13 – A little bit thicker layer of slip, maybe double the normal amount, and then some fun finger squiggles… yep, my finger!

Bowl #14 – Another layer of white slip- then some decorative chattering through to reveal the clay color. Chattering is just rhythmic tapping of my rib through the slip while the bowl was spinning.

Bowl #15 – The plan here was to make a wide flange, paint it with slip and then do some decorative “fun” on the flange. But my students (err, Catherine) talked me into leaving it as it is for now… and then doing some stamping on the white slip. Their hope is that the stamps would reveal the clay color when pressed in. I doubt that it will. I think the white slip will just press in along with the stamp. But we’ll see…

Bowl #16 – A little colored ombre effect by blending two colors.

So for now they’re under wraps in my studio.
Part Three of the demo will happen there when I start stamping & detailing them all a little bit more. I’ll add more photos here as they progress.

Categories: bowls, classes, pottery, process, production
Categories: classes, food

Another “sweet” pottery class last night with some more OREO flavors!!!
The new Cinnamon Bun flavor was surprisingly yummy!!!

Categories: bike, sunrise

It was a cloudy morning ride with an incredibly short-lived burst of crazy color.

And then done for the day… and back to gray!

Categories: family, friends

So adorable… my friend and fellow Lillstreet teacher & studio-mate Catherine decided to give her Mom a handmade pottery apron… made by my Mom!!! Catherine’s Mom is back taking a pottery class. And now she can stay clean in style!

If you’re interested in buying a handmade pottery apron, click here
and see what’s currently in-stock. My Mom is always making more!!!