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

With my studio cart packed to the hilt, I was concerned if it was all going to fit.
And it didn’t. A few pieces will have to wait for my next soda kiln firing!

Categories: kiln firing, pottery, process, production

So tonight I finally loaded the soda kiln. After months of making work, bisquing,
glazing, wadding and more… tonight was my night to load the kiln. Tomorrow I’ll be
firing the kiln all day. But first… here’s my step-by-step loading process from tonight!

The kiln was empty and waiting for me. You always start with the back stack. I load
the entire back stack, one shelf deep, all the way to the top… then move to the front
two shelves and load them all the way to the top. Each shelf is placed on kiln posts
of different heights to make the shelves work with the heights of your pots. With lots
of tiles conveniently fitting in between all of the pots – the perfect kiln filler!

Lots of pots. Lots of tiles. All different sizes. All different shapes. It’s sort of a 3-D puzzle…
loading in pieces, trying to get as many pieces in as possible – while making sure there’s
enough air space around everything for good soda flow & coverage. It’s tough…
the more I “squeeze” in, the more I feel like I’m getting my money’s worth for the cost
of the kiln firing! Pack it too tight, and some of the work may not be covered & glazed
with soda. So I keep packing… up to the top!

Then it’s time to move to the front two shelves – and load them both at the same time,
layer by layer. Again, matching the brick heights with the work going in. Part way up…
another Kodak Moment.

More pots. More shelves. More posts. Layer by layer. And a LOT of tiles!!!
But then it’s done. Loaded all the way to the top. With one last shelf carefully slid in
at the top… just a few more tiles and a couple cups. Whew… a lot of stacking,
a lot of posts & heavy shelves! And I’m sweating… but glad it’s done.

Once the kiln is packed, and the cone packs in place, the door then needs
to be bricked closed. One brick at a time. Alternating, some this way, some that way.
Making sure that the peeps are in, and line up with the cone packs so I’ll be able to see
them during the firing. Yes, the peeps are the “brighter white” bricks that can be
pulled out for a quick peek.

And then it’s done for the night. Put to bed. Trying to get a good night’s sleep
for tomorrow’s long day of firing! And… scene!

Categories: kiln firing, pottery, process, production

Oh, the possibilities… like the calm before the storm.
Loading starts tomorrow afternoon! Let the games begin!!!

Categories: bike, sunrise

This morning’s sunrise was so vibrant & orange, it could have easily been mistaken
as a stunning tropical sunset. Minus the palm trees. Minus the balmy Caribbean breeze.
Disregard the fact that Lake Michigan is always to the east in Chicago!…
And the fact that it was pretty darn early in the morning!!! So sunrise it is!!!

Categories: inspiration, nature

So beautiful. And the aroma even more intoxicating…

Categories: bike, nature, seasons

My afternoon bike ride with Chris was wonderful once again.
The weather was great and riding even better. Spring has sprung… and I was happy
to be able to get out of the studio and go play outside. It’s always more fun to play!

With an early start to our biking season, it’s been fun watching the woods surrounding
the bike path evolve from dead, brown Winter woods to the vibrant, Spring green forest
it is quickly becoming. It’s like seeing the seasons change right before your eyes!
With flowers & textures everywhere you look!

We also continued our weekly, favorite riding game of “deer hunting.”
As we pedal the 35-mile route, we keep an eye out for deer along the way.
And today was our highest count ever… 53 deer!

Categories: pottery, production

I think this is the first time EVER that I am actually ahead of schedule?!
Everything is glazed, wadded & ready to go for Friday’s soda kiln loading.
And here’s the “other” side of the rolling cart… ready to roll downstairs!

It feels a little odd… like I’m missing something, or should be doing more?!
Now don’t get me wrong… it feels nice for a change.

Guess that “clears me” for another afternoon bike ride to the Botanic Garden?!

Categories: classes, lillstreet, summer camp

Well, I just received my schedule for Summer Camp at Lillstreet Art Center.
I love camp. I love working with the kids. I love making art. I love laughing.
And the kids always make me laugh… their stories, their jokes, their enthusiasm.
By choice, I only teach the older age group, 8-12 year olds. I like that they are a bit older
and willing to express themselves through art… and learn about art at the same time.
As well as fulfilling my own “Summer Camp Rule #1” – HAVE FUN!!!

So… barring any last minute changes, here’s my very full summer camp schedule!

WEEK A:  June 7 – June 11
AM: I’m only scheduled as the back-up teacher for Clay & Multimedia…
so if there’s a lot kids signed up for that week, I’m in.

WEEK B:  June 14 – June 18
AM/PM: Chess Camp #1… we only have a week for the kids to build an entire
thematic chess set out of terra cotta! They develop a theme of what their two
“competing” sides are, and then build them & paint them with underglaze.
Oh yeah, and a chess board too! Only five days and a LOT of work!!!

WEEK C:  June 21 – June 25
AM: Clay & Multimedia
PM: Clay & Multimedia
Basically, “Clay & Multimedia” means that we all do a clay project on Monday,
and then assorted other art projects Tuesday through Friday… with our hope
that all projects are ready to take home on Friday!

WEEK D:  June 28 – July 2nd
AM: Clay & Multimedia
PM: Clay & Multimedia

WEEK E:  July 5th – July 9th
AM: Wheelthrowing… enough said, the kids get to play on the wheel & make pots!!!
PM: Clay & Multimedia

WEEK H:  July 26th – July 30th
AM: Fire. Forge. Feast… a week of fun teaching with metalsmith Pam Robinson
as we work with the kids to make a dinnerware set. Monday & Tuesday we make plates,
bowls & handles out of clay. Wednesday & Thursday we make knives, forks & spoons
out of metal. Friday we put it all together and have a class potluck lunch…
using their own handmade dinnerware set!

WEEK I:  August 2nd – August 6th
AM: Clay & Multimedia

WEEK J:  August 9th – August 13th
AM/PM: Chess Camp #2 – another week, another challenge to finish full chess sets!
Thirty-two pieces, a chess board and a lot of work to get it all done in a week!

WEEK K:  August 16th – August 20th
AM: Wild Things – it’s a week full of animals and animal-themed projects!
Including a group field trip to Lincoln Park Zoo on Tuesday for inspiration!

WEEK L:  August 23rd – August 27th
AM: Clay & Multimedia
PM: Hand & Wheel for 8 year olds – new this year… clay all week for 8-year old kids!

WEEK M:  August 30th – September 3rd
AM: Clay & Multimedia
PM: Hand & Wheel for 8 year olds

WEEK N: collapse!

For more complete details on Summer Camp at Lillstreet, and the full schedule
of all the other camps for all ages, stop by Lillstreet or check them out online.

Categories: television

If this is a preview of what it’s going to be like without “LOST” on TV…
I don’t like it.

With only five more hours left of my favorite show on television EVER…
it’s going to be weird not having our favorite island mysteries to be solving any more.
And let me just say… there are still a LOT of unsolved questions to be resolved.
Piecing together the snippets, clues, Easter Eggs and other clues. Over-analyzing!!
Hypothesizing how it’s all going to end. Trying to figure out what the heck is going on?!
Who’s good? Who’s evil. Who will survive till the end? Will anyone make it off the Island
and live “happily ever after”? 4 – 8 – 15 – 16 – 23 – 42…

Categories: bike, sunrise

Another beautiful, albeit quite windy, morning. The first half of the ride was a breeze… literally.
Riding back north was into the wind. And a LOT of it.