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

Last night in class it was great to see so many of my students cranking out the work. Megan had plates & cups everywhere, Natalie was slip decorating a full set of mugs with her “Starry Night” design, and everyone else was up to their elbows in clay! Hard to believe we’re already at Week Nine of classes… so proud to see how far they’ve come.


Categories: art fair

It’s been a busy couple of weeks. My first art fair is this weekend in Schaumburg…
and I’m still trying to get everything ready. The good thing is I’m unloading two more kilns tonight, and will still try to squeeze one more in. On the bad side, I’ve been burning the candle at both ends for so long now that I’ve just got a puddle of wax!

Categories: bike, sunrise

Sure, I may be over-extending myself just a bit… but when the sunrise is this wonderful, how can I be expected to miss it? A great sunrise bike ride is always better than sleep, right?!


Categories: studio

When faced with a small studio space in Chicago,
organization is the key. And I have one suggestion… PEGBOARD!!!
Go vertical with the help of IKEA baskets & cups.

Categories: glaze, process, studio

It’s been a very busy week. Making. Glazing. Loading. Firing.
All in preparation for this weekend’s Schaumburg Prairie Arts Festival.
And while I’m already rushing about, why not add one more project to my to-do-list like developing some new glazes? I’m firing a Cone 6 electric oxidation kiln for some fun bright colors. So I mixed up a few new Cone 6 glaze recipes… hoping that one or two of them might turn out nice?!

I’m firing two test tiles of each color – one for the top of the kiln, and the other for the bottom. As well as a vertical tube to check for runniness. Fingers crossed that something works out. Maybe not in time for this weekend’s art fair… but maybe in time for some new colored pieces for Hinsdale in another two weeks?

Categories: bike

I’ve always said that “one of the best parts about biking, is stopping.”
I’m a huge advocate for stopping at every landmark, kid’s lemonade stand and historical marker. Stopping for homemade pie. Stopping for a good photo-op. Stopping to pet the llamas. Like today during the “Arlington 500″ bike ride… five hundred furlongs… or 75 miles through rural Illinois.

Categories: bowls, food

There’s nothing sweeter than fresh produce in a handmade berry bowl.
Just rinse, shake and serve in the berry bowl on the matching drip plate.
What could be sweeter?

And thanks to Kelly for sharing her strawberries with us this morning!

Categories: clay, process

After sitting on my plaster bat for a few days, the pile of reclaim clay has stiffened up enough to start working with it. So I take off chunks of clay and pound them loosely in to squared blocks. And then I slice them into thin slices and alternately layer them into different stack. As you can see, I am more than willing to mix several different clay bodies into my reclaim. As long as they’re all a cone 10 high-fire clay body. It’s just clay, right?

So I take the layered stacks and pound them down on themselves.
Cut it in half and stack one stack on top of the other half. So if you started with 10 layers, you now have 20 stacked. Pound it down, then cut it in half and stack them again. Now you have 40 layers. Repeat, 80 layers. Repeat. 160 layers. Repeat. 320 layers. Repeat. 640 layers. And so on… and so on. It’s amazing to see how quickly the different clay bodies all get homogenized into one blend.

Then I take the freshly mixed parts and pound them into blocks. These will now be bagged up and ready for use at a later date. I’m too busy right now trying to finish up the production cycle with glazing & firing to be making new stuff. That is going to have to wait until after my first two art fairs! I will be sure to re-wedge it all before actually using it for throwing.

So there we have it… mixed, bagged and ready for a spin on the wheel. FREE CLAY.
One hundred and twenty-eight pounds of it. That’s a lot of pottery potential.

And there it is… FREE CLAY

Categories: Chicago

It was a beautiful day on Navy Pier…
with anticipation of the new Centennial Ferris Wheel.
Bigger & better than the one before. An oversized upgrade for Navy Pier.
Opening Dedication Ceremonies just over a week away… Friday, May 27th.
Just in time for some Memorial Day Weekend fun on the Pier!!!

And my favorite shot of them all…
A groovy reflection in the new glass & mirror elevator shafts that take you up to Pier Park.

Categories: art fair, glaze, kiln firing, pottery

The front door bricks were just taken off… and all looks good!.
Always a relief to see some good colors and nice soda flashing effects.
And to know that as you dig in and unpack the kiln it’s only going to get better!

It was also nice to see the top cone pack still intact. At some point towards the end of the firing, I lost visuals on it. The kiln was so hot, glowing orange with flames shooting out… that ot was tough to see in through the peep. I actually wondered if it had fallen off the shelf at some point?! Apparently not… but that Cone 10 did melt nice and flat, huh?!

Always fun to unpack and see what’s in-store. So many nice things that were “kissed” by the kiln flames. Beautiful blushes of colors and soda build-up. So many of these pieces will be coming with me to Schaumburg & Hinsdale for my first two art fairs. We’re just weeks away… and here’s a sneak peek of what to expect…

One of the many joys of soda firing. Some times the Kiln Gods like to give some pots a good sloppy kiss of goo. Changing their destiny forever. Luckily, this was my only “kissed” pot.

Now THAT’s a big smooch!!!

Click over to my INSTAGRAM feed to see a video of what happened to this “lovely” pot! – and then hit FOLLOW.

Or, even quicker, click on the QR Code…