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

Tiles… tiles.. and more tiles!
I spent last night making a lot of tiles in the studio… more than I had planned!
Each tile is handmade from a slab of fresh clay. Each tile is textured by hand
creating one-of-a-kind tiles that will later be put together into hanging
wall pieces or installations. My sister has “requested” a wall installation
for her living room between some cabinets, around the wall mounted television.
So I’m back in production mode – making a lot of tiles! Many of them will be used
for her wall installation, while others will get to travel on the summer art fair circuit.


This batch will be for the soda kiln, so not only were they textured,
most of them are also covered with a layer of soda slip which will help give them
different colorations in the final glaze firing. So now they need to dry, then be
bisque fired. When I get ready to do my next soda firing, they will all need to be wadded
individually, as well as given a quick wash of dissolved soda solution and some get
a minimal spraying of glaze for a splash of color. A lot of work for a little tile, huh?
Now multiply that by hundreds of tiles…

Categories: art fair, artists, friends, My Talented Friends, process

I met Cory McCrory a few years back at the Hinsdale Fine Art Fair.
She was a row over, and I could barely see her booth from mine… but the little
I could see definitely piqued my interest. She had clay fish swimming in her tent!
It was love at first sight… the colors, the patterns, the textures, the whimsy…
oh, and she was really nice too!!! Since our initial infatuation with each others work,
we’ve become good friends over the years. We shared ideas, fears, inspirations and meals.
We are both working our way through the world as self-employed ceramic artists…
both trying to carve out our own niché… both playing with textures!


Cory McCrory Workshop at Terra Incognito

Last weekend, Cory was the “headliner” at a ceramic workshop at Terra Incognito
in LaGrange, Illinois. As the supportive friend and Cory-enthusiast, I had to go.
It’s not every day that one of your friends is presenting a workshop!


She worked her way through the day presenting her techniques, making a couple pieces
and sharing her thoughts, inspirations & passions along the way. Cory’s work is more
sculptural in nature, filled with a wonderful sense of whimsy, yet often functional
at the same time. Tough to get all three to work in balance like that. She also works with
“paper clay” which affords her more time to “work the clay” as though it were more like fabric.
Paper clay is regular stoneware clay that has a large percentage of hydrated paper pulp
mixed into it. The result is a lighter clay body that retains moisture longer so it extends the
“workable” time before it dries out. She has also had great results with re-working pieces
even after they’ve dried to greenware. Apparently the paper pulp helps with dry attachments?!


As with a lot of my friends, I have quite a collection of Cory’s work… and always want more!
I do here graphic design for her… postcards, business cards, etc… in exchange for more.
I have a teapot, bottles, whistles and an entire school of her clay fish. And more to come.
There’s never enough whimsy in the world… and Cory just keeps adding more!

Categories: artists, My Talented Friends

I’ve often told people that “I love having talented friends.”
So in the months to come, I’m going to feature some of them here.
Letting you see for yourself just how talented some of my friends are.

Several of them are friends from my time at Lillstreet Art Center. There are so many
talented people going through the doors there. It’s a wonderful community of artists
at all different levels working in different mediums.

Others are artists I’ve come to know through the art fair circuit. Traveling from show
to show, working side by side with fellow artists all trying to sell their wares.
Making new friends at the art fairs has made the shows so much more enjoyable.
It’s always fun to have friends in the booths surrounding you. It’s good to see them,
good to share your customers, good to promote each others work, and good to know
that there is someone there to help out if you ever need it.

And a special side perk… talented friends are usually up for a good trade now & again!
I have quite the collection of artwork at home through trades and gifts. And there is
nothing better than filling your world with art made by your friends!

I love having talented friends.

Categories: computer

Well, my Mac is “all better” and I’m back on track…

My computer decided to go on a little “sabbatical” and not allow me to use it.
As I was working on anything… it would randomly stop. A dark gray shade would lower
to cover my monitor screen. Then a very official message, in four languages, would tell me
that I needed to start my computer?! So I did… always one to follow instructions
when I don’t know enough to do otherwise.

Then I would work some more until it decided to go gray again… and again… and again.
So I took it into the Apple Store to talk to the guys at the Genius Bar. They diagnosed
the problem and said that the gray shadings were “kernel panics.” Apparently,
when a Mac gets confused it will shut itself down before doing anything really bad to itself.
The “genius” checked the internal logs and error reports. He diagnosed two different
possible problems – but of course, didn’t have the items in-stock. Once the items were
received at Apple, I needed to leave my computer there to be fixed.

He thought it might be the AirPort card – put in a new one, but that wasn’t it.
He thought it might be the trackpad – put in a new one, but that wasn’t it.
He thought it might be the battery – put in a new one, but that wasn’t it.
He thought it might be the logic board – and apparently it was!  Voila’

So now my Mac is all new & improved. They even cleaned it… no more grimy fingerprints!
If I have one word of advice to share… always pay for the extended AppleCare Warranty.
My extended plan will expire in April 2009, so this Mac “sabbatical” was just in time.
Luckily, all of the work & parts put into repairing my Mac was free because of the AppleCare.
If I weren’t still under the plan… it would have cost me $1,887.29. Ouch.

Categories: movie

Well, I’ve finally done it. I’ve finished the list!
I’ve watched all of the “Top 100 Movies” as listed by the American Film Institute.
It’s been a long time coming – watching a lot of classics in all genres.
Many of them you’ve seen. Many of them you’ve always known you “should” see.
It was fun with Charlie Chaplin & Buster Keaton… as well as classics by
Steven Spielberg & Alfred Hitchcock. Musicals & silent films. Action & thrillers.

Just to give you a headstart, here’s the AFI Top 100 Movies of All Time…
at least, as of the 2007 list revision… and a few memorable movie lines!!!

1.  Citizen Kane“Rosebud.”
2.  The Godfather – “I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse.”
3.  Casablanca“Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.”
4.  Raging Bull“I got these small hands. I got little girl’s hands.”
5.  Singin’ In The Rain “Lina. She can’t act. She can’t sing. She can’t dance. A triple threat.”
6.  Gone With The Wind – “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”
7.  Lawrence of Arabia “The best of them won’t come for money; they’ll come for me.”
8.  Schindler’s List “You’re giving them hope. You shouldn’t do that. ‘That’s’ cruel.”
9.  Vertigo “Anyone could become obsessed with the past with a background like that.”
10.  The Wizard of Oz – “There’s no place like home.”
11.  City Lights – “Tomorrow the birds will sing.”
12.  The Searchers “Figure a man’s only good for one oath at a time.”
13.  Star Wars“May the force be with you.”
14.  Psycho“We all go a little made sometimes.”
15.  2001: A Space Odyssey“Open the pod bay doors, HAL.”
16.  Sunset Boulevard – “I’m ready for my close-up Mr. DeMille.”
17.  The Graduate – “Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me.”
18.  The General silent title page… “Heroes of the day”
19.  On The Waterfront “Do it to him before he does it to you.”
20.  It’s A Wonderful Life “Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.”
21.  Chinatown “You’re dumber than you think I think you are.”
22.  Some Like It Hot “Real diamonds! They must be worth their weight in gold!”
23.  The Grapes of Wrath “Sure don’t look none too prosperous.”
24.  ET – The Extra-Terrestrial “ET phone home.”
25.  To Kill A Mockingbird “There goes the meanest man that ever took a breath of life.”
26.  Mr. Smith Goes to Washington“Mr. President, will the Senator yield?”
27.  High Noon “I knew you had guts, but never figured you for brains.”
28.  All About Eve “Fasten your seat belts – it’s going to be a bumpy night.”
29.  Double Indemnity “Do I laugh now, or wait ’til it gets funny?”
30.  Apocalypse Now – “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.”
31.  The Maltese Falcon “Say, what’s on your mind besides your hat?”
32.  The Godfather, Part II“Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.”
33.  One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest “Rules? Piss on your fucking rules!”
34.  Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs – “Whistle while you work.”
35.  Annie Hall “Hey, don’t knock masturbation. It’s sex with someone I love.”
36. The Bridge Over The River Kwai insert catchy whistling tune here…
37.  The Best Years Of Our Life“If you wrote that once, you wrote it a hundred times.”
38.  The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre – “Badges? We don’t need no stinking badges.”
39.  Dr. Strangelove “Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here. This is the War Room!”
40.  The Sound Of Music“There’s nothing wrong with the children. Only the governesses.”
41.  King Kong “Those chains ore made of chrome steel.”
42.  Bonnie And Clyde “Next time, I’ll aim a little lower.”
43.  Midnight Cowboy “I only get carsick on boats.”
44.  The Philadelphia Story “You’re far and away your favorite person in the world.”
45.  Shane “A gun is as good or bad as the man using it.”
46.  It Happened One Night“Believe you me, you bore me to distraction.”
47.  A Streetcar Named Desire – “Stella!!!”
48.  Rear Window“Nothing has caused the human race so much trouble as intelligence.”
49.  Intolerance “Such a wonderful king. If only he thought as we do.”
50.  The Lord Of The Rings: Fellowship Of The Rings“Nobody tosses a dwarf.”
51.  West Side Story “When you’re a Jet, you’re a Jet all the way.”
52. Taxi Driver“You talkin’ to me? Well, I’m the only one here.”
53.  The Deer Hunter “You’re so full of shit, you’re gonna float away.”
54.  M*A*S*H “Oh Frank. My lips are hot. Kiss my hot lips.”
55.  North By Northwest “You’re the smartest girl I’ve ever spent the night with on a train.”
56.  Jaws “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”
57.  Rocky“Your gonna eat lightnin’ and you’re gonna crap thunder.”
58.  The Gold Rushcue the classic silent film piano music soundtrack…
59.  Nashville“He wouldn’t bathe, so we all had to pee in his bed to get him discharged.”
60.  Duck Soup“I got a good mind to join a club and beat you over the head with it.”
61.  Sullivan’s Travels “There’s a lot to be said for making people laugh.”
62.  American Graffiti “Your car is uglier than I am. That didn’t come out right.”
63.  Cabaret“What good is sitting alone in your room. Come hear the music play.”
64.  Network “I’m as mad as hell… and I’m not going to take it any more!”
65.  The African Queen“There ain’t nothing so complicated as the inside of a torpedo.”
66.  Raiders Of The Lost Ark“It’s not the years, honey. It’s the mileage.”
67.  Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? – “You can’t afford to waste good liquor.”
68.  Unforgiven“You ain’t ugly like me, it’s just that we both got scars.”
69.  Tootsie“I don’t believe in Hell. I believe in ‘unemployment’, not Hell.”
70.  A Clockwork Orange “Initiative comes to thems that wait.”
71.  Saving Private Ryan“It’s like finding a needle in a stack of needles.”
72. The Shawshank Redemption“Hope is a dangerous thing. It can drive a man insane.”
73.  Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid – “I’m not crazy. I’m just colorful.”
74.  The Silence Of The Lambs “I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.”
75.  In The Heat Of The Night “They call me Mister Tibbs!”
76.  Forrest Gump – “Life was like a box of chocolates.”
77.  All The President’s Men “When you’ve got ’em by the balls, hearts & minds will follow.”
78.   Modern Times“Buck up – never say die. We’ll get along.”
79.  The Wild Bunch“I’ll hold ’em here ’til Hell freezes over or you say different.”
80.  The Apartment“That’s the way it crumbles… cookie-wise.”
81.  Spartacus“Good luck, and may fortune smile upon… most of us.”
82.  Sunrise “Don’t be afraid of me.”
83.  Titanic“I’m the king of the world.”
84.  Easy Rider“If God did not exist it would be necessary to invent him.”
85.  A Night At The Opera“You know the old saying. Two’s company, five’s a crowd.”
86.  Platoon“Excuses are like assholes, Taylor. Everybody’s got one.”
87.  12 Angry Men“Look, you voted guilty. Which side are you on?”
88.  Bringing Up Baby“A man wrestling a leopard in a pond, he’s in no position to run.”
89.  The Sixth Sense – “I see dead people.”
90.  Swing Time “No one could teach you to dance in a million years.”
91.  Sophie’s Choice“I longed desperately to escape, to pack my bags & flee, but I did not.”
92. Goodfellas “Funny like a clown? I amuse you?”
93. The French Connection“You wanna play ‘hide the salami’ with this old lady?”
94.  Pulp Fiction “That’s 30 minutes away. I’ll be there in 10.”
95.  The Last Picture Show “Chicken fry me a steak and try to use meat this time.”
96.  Do The Right Thing“Take your pizza and get the fuck back to Africa.”
97.  Blade Runner“Nothing is worse than having an itch you can never scratch.”
98.  Yankee Doodle Dandy “It’ll be great as long as those critics don’t eat off my leg.”
99.  Toy Story “To infinity and beyond!”
100.  Ben-Hur“You’re either for me, or against me.”

So there’s the list…  which one is your favorite?

My stumbling block was film #82 – “Sunrise” from 1927.
It just wasn’t available anywhere. Not on Netflix. Not on Amazon. Not anywhere.
But then suddenly… after about 6 months of searching… Netflix finally got it!
So I watched “Sunrise” and officially finished the list. A surprisingly entertaining,
black & white silent film – about a man trying to “off” his wife and hide the body
out in the lake… only to find he can’t and falls back in love with her! Needless to say,
the mistress isn’t too thrilled with the renewed marriage romance. Not bad
once you get used to the subtitles.

All in all, it was a great project. I would highly recommend watching “the list”
to anyone who enjoys the movies. I think it is important to have a well-rounded knowledge
of history & pop culture… and I am now a lot better in the Movies & Film categories
when we watch “Jeopardy” or play Trivial Pursuit. It was also great to hear some
of the famous movie lines now in the actual context of the film…
lines you’ve always heard, but never really knew where they came from.
“Here’s looking at you kid.”

FYI…  I still don’t agree with “Citizen Kane” being number one!..   it’s a sled!!!

Categories: photography

okay… picture this if you will…
I’m driving home late last night on a Chicago side street. Minding my own business.
The blizzard had ended and the streets were pretty clear and the coast was clear.
So I’m headed north on Cicero, getting ready to drive under the Edens Expressway.
As I entered the overpass bridge area, surrounded by fellow drivers…
I see from above in the all-too-familiar, soon-to-be-an-accident slow-motion…
a snow plow is above me plowing the Edens Expressway – and sending all of the excess
snow & mush over the edge… plummeting down right onto my windshield!!!

Smash… splash… and a little panic.
Maintain control. Don’t freak out. Don’t veer from the path.
It wasn’t until I flipped on my windshield wipers that I realized that the
smashing sound was a lot more than just the splatter of icey goo…

My entire windshield was smashed!!!

I made it home safely and called my insurance agent. As I reported my claim,
the girl on the other end of the line actually laughed at my story – go figure.
She said she’s never heard of anything like that. Just my luck.
So this morning I took pictures and tried to find a place to fix it on a Sunday…
with no luck. So it will be fixed tomorrow… and winter continues in Chicago.


At least the was a little “beauty” in the smashed glass if you could look past the damage!


Categories: pottery, process, production, stamps, studio

So I’m back at the studio – trying to get back into the swing of things
and get the pottery production started up again. I figured a good place to start
would be by making some new stamps for the New Year! With even more to come…


I make my stamps with fresh clay – and start by rolling out a coil.
I let the coil dry up a little bit so it’s not too soft & squishy. Then I will create
different patterns on both ends of the coil. That way, I get two stamps with each.
As the coil dries, I make sure to scratch my name into the side… you know how
things tend to “travel” around the studio?! When the stamps are dry, they will be
bisqued to make them solid, yet porous. They are then ready to use. You want to
make sure not to high-fire them as that would make them non-porous…
and they would stick more to the clay when making impressions.