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

Once again this year, Lillstreet is holding a special benefit to help fight hunger.
“Empty Bowls” benefits are held across the country with potters of all levels donating
their work to raise money for local hunger-fighting organizations. At our benefit,
people will be able to choose form hundreds of handmade ceramic bowls for a suggested
donation of $20. Not only do you get to keep the bowl, but it will also be filled with soup
and a piece of bread courtesy of First Slice Cafe. One hundred percent of the proceeds
will be given to First Slice Cafe so they may continue to create healthy meals for local
organizations whose mission includes helping those who are hungry and/or homeless.
Last year’s event raised over $19,000 for First Slice Cafe. We’re hoping to top that this year…
and several of my handmade bowls will be in the mix!

Empty Bowls Fundraiser
Friday, March 5th   -  5:00pm-8:00pm

Lillstreet Art Center
4401 North Ravenswood at Montrose, Chicago, Illinois 60640

Categories: pottery, process, production, studio

A lot of little plates thrown today… hopefully I’ll get them all trimmed tomorrow?!

Categories: pottery, process, production, studio

And hopefully… everyone will want to buy a ceramic berry bowl this Spring!!!
So today I spent the day at the studio turning the stamped bowls into berry bowls.
I trimmed the foot, then pierced the bottom with drainage holes. Once they were done,
I needed to find a place to let them dry… so I used “The Annex.”

“The Annex”… which is my friend Karen Patinkin’s empty studio which I so kindly refer to
as “The Annex” every time I need to “sneak” in and borrow her empty table top. So while
she’s off traveling somewhere in Timbuktu
(literally) and won’t be back for awhile. It’s the
perfect place for me to dry the berry bowls! She’ll never know… unless she reads my blog?!

So now that they are drying… I need to make the saucer to go under each one!
Small plates with the same fluted rim treatment – no stamping, just keeping ’em simple!

Also, I have found another great tool for making the holes in the bottom well-spaced and even.
I used to just guess visually and hope for the best. Some would work, some would be a little
wonky. This simple plastic disc has made all the difference in the world. They come in different
sizes, but this little size works great for me. It came as a set of two… one disc is divided into
even-numbered segments, the other disc is divided into odd-numbered segments. There are
little holes in the plastic to help mark the pot with even spacing before you actually go in
to cut the holes. Evenly spaced every time!

If you’re interested in getting your own disks, they cone from MKM Pottery Tools.
Phone (920) 205-2701 – or e-mail to:

Categories: artists, inspiration, process

Well, here it is, finally… ceramic artist Kristen Kieffer has created her very first
instructional DVD showcasing her incredible surface decoration techniques.
I’ve been a fan of her intricate work for a long time, and just purchased my DVD
this morning. I can’t wait to get it…

To purchase your own copy, go to and search for Kristen Kieffer.
Or just click here!

Categories: pottery, process, production, stamps, studio

As the summer art fair season comes looming ever closer, day by day, week by week…
I’m trying to get a head start on my studio production. Focusing on producing more work
instead of lollygagging and letting the days slip by. So tonight I stopped in the studio
to stamp all of the bowls I threw on Wednesday. They were a little damp, but I stamped
anyway… sadly, too wet to trim. That will have to wait until tomorrow…

Categories: classes, pottery, process, production

So… on the first night of my Beginning Wheelthrowing class, I asked my students
what they hoped to get out of class. What they wanted to learn. What they wanted
to make. One of my brand new beginners said she wanted to make a butter dish.
I explained to Abby that they are typically handbuilt, and not wheelthrown…
but I was willing to take on the challenge! Last night, we tackled the butter dish!

But before I could teach it… I had to learn how to make them myself!
I had never made them before and questioned how to make them “my own.”
So with some measurements, some textures and some basic handbuilding skills…
these are the first two! The first “prototypes” now in the drying stage.

By the way… Abby made her first butter dish last night – and was VERY excited!!!

Categories: textures

With my bathroom remodeling now complete, it has taken a little time to get used to
the changes. New colors. New tiles. New toilet. New towels. New vanity. New sink height.
New taller shower stall door that I no longer hit my head on when I get in & out everyday!
It’s the little things that make me happy… plus all of the textures to enjoy as well.
Including one of my favorite cups by fellow potter & friend Cory McCrory!

Categories: inspiration, nature, seasons

Snow-covered cars… a brief warm-up… a “roll” of snow sliding down a windshield.
Beautiful. Unexpected. And sadly, not going to last very long with today’s temps!

Categories: pottery, process, production

After another great class last night with my “not-so-beginners-anymore”…
where we played with some stamping, faceting, texturing and had some more fun with slip…
we even made slip squiggles in our bowls. So in the studio today, I continued to “squiggle”
and made a few more bowls!

Categories: inspiration, nature

Notice the icicles “sprouting” out along the top of the bike rack at a crazy wind-blown angle!!!