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

It was cold & rainy outside today… kinda damp & dreary… no fun outside…
So today I tackled the bowls. Glazing bowls. Wadding bowls. Everything bowls.
With the new “bulging stamp” design, I’m intrigued to see how they glaze up.
I’m so accustomed to the glaze being inlaid INTO the stamp… whereas on these bowls,
the glaze “inlay” actually turned out to be “around” the stamp instead of “in” the stamp?!
I hope they turn out… I’m hopeful, but a bit apprehensive.

Categories: special events

So tonight was the much anticipated “black tie event”… with me in my lime bow tie!
It was the annual charity fundraiser gala for the American Cancer Society. The event
was held at the Chicago Opera House – a beautiful venue for this wonderful event.

The place was filled with all the heavy-hitters… CEO’s of all the big Chicago-based
corporations, power spouses, movers & shakers, the ladies who lunch… it was a
veritable philanthropic who’s-who of Chicago… and me… a little out of place?!

It started with a reception in the theater lobby. Silent auction items everywhere,
ranging from gift baskets to spa treatments to sports tickets. From toys for kids to
mink coats to jewelry. There were also two raffle items – a large diamond ring from
Tiffany’s and a fantastic trip package to Scottsdale, Arizona.

At my dinner table, hosted by my friend Sonya from United Airlines, I ate with some
heavy-hitters from Goodman Theater, Comisky Park, the Dominican Republic Consulate
and three charities: Breast Cancer, Prostate Cancer & Malaria. Rubbing elbows with the
“in crowd” was quite the change from getting all dirty in the studio! I felt so grown-up!
I actually had to wear long pants AND socks!!!

The entertainer was comedian Martin Short who got the crowd warmed-up
and ready for the main event – the live auction. Incredible “dream vacation” packages,
sports packages, all-star trips to the Academy Awards, a New York adventure to
Broadway and the Tony Awards… even a labradoodle pup was auctioned off –
all to raise money for the American Cancer Society.

All in all, it was a fun evening. Definitely a bit out of my comfort zone. It did help knowing
a couple people at my table… as well as the surprise of seeing my biking friend Nancy walk
in the door! She got a last minute invitation, so her and her husband John also came to
the gala.. unbeknownst to me. Nice surprise to see her there!

Categories: pottery, process, production, studio

After the mini’s… I did a LOT of glazing! A lot of liner glazes. A lot of inlaid glazes.
A lot of wadding. With a bit of colored glazes sprayed on for accents here & there.
My studio cart filled up quickly… ready to be rolled downstairs to the kiln.
Well, not quite yet. Before I left tonight I rolled the cart and turned it around…
so now the entire other side of the cart can be filled with glazed pieces!!!

As mentioned, my rolling cart will travel downstairs for the kiln loading.
With a rickety freight elevator as my only means of transportation, I have found
that some masking tape “safety belts” tend to keep my pots safe… as they jiggle
and bounce around on the trip downstairs!

I will be loading my soda kiln next Friday, and then firing on Saturday.
And I still have quite the pile of bisque stacked up waiting to be glazed!

Categories: pottery, process, production, studio

Miniature pots… Miniature vases… Miniature bowls… just a “little” glazing!!!

Categories: special events

So now that I’ve been to two “Empty Bowl Projects”… I thought a little, friendly comparison
might be nice?! Kind of the pro’s and con’s of each event, so to speak. What I noticed…
what I liked… casual observations…stuff like that. Nothing too critical… just for fun!
With a little insight from “The Nancy” who is currently taking classes at Terra Incognito.

One of the first things that struck me about the event tonight at Terra Incognito
was that all of the bowls were practically the same size. Approximately a one-pound bowl
for you potters out there, a single-serving soup bowl for you non-potters!
You could tell that
there were some stipulations, a little guidance, a few parameters put on the bowls. Nancy
said that they even had a couple “group throws” to make a lot of the bowls where Dave Toan,
owner of Terra Incognito, donated the clay – already wedged in one-pound balls. So they just
had to throw the bowls – then someone else would finish it quickly, most with no trimming
Whereas at the Lillstreet event, you’ll find bowls of all different sizes. From soup bowls,
to pasta bowls to large serving bowls, and all the way down to miniature bowls! Fully
finished, fully decorated, all different size, all different finishes… including soda fired!

The bowls at Lillstreet are donated from all the studio artists, as well as students.
So they’ve all been “finished” by the artists before donating them. So they are all trimmed
and glazed by the artist. Apparently, the bowls at Terra were also made by students, but
not necessarily “finished” by them. A lot of the bowls were very simple. A lot were not trimmed.
Very basic bowls – yet still more than appropriate to raise money for a worthy cause.

I enjoyed how Terra Incognito had they’re event organized. As you entered, your “donated”
your $20 for a ticket. Once inside you “shopped” around for the perfect bowl. Then you
simple gave them back the ticket as you were leaving. easy in, easy out. No lines waiting
to play, no wrapping, no bagging. Just a bowl. In, out, done.

This year, Lillstreet added a new section of Silent Auction items also donated for the cause.
So as you were exiting, you had a chance to place your bid on some of the “nicer” artworks
that had been donated. At Terra Incognito, there was one room of bowls that had been made
by students of two local high schools. Very sweet.

With the First Slice Cafe being located right inside Lillstreet, they provide the soup & bread
every year for Empty Bowls. It’s nice to have the cafe that is helping disperse the donations
and help feed the hungry right there and involved in the event. In LaGrange, the local businesses
were involved and you traveled the town to repeatedly fill your bowl with food from over twenty
different restaurants. It was a lot more social, people milling about town all night long.
And a great way for other local businesses to get involved in the cause.
Did I mention the fudge?!… twice!!!

No matter how you look at it, both events are wonderful. A lot of bowls. A lot of fun.
A lot of money raised for local organizations fighting to combat hunger. The Empty Bowls
Project is a nationwide event, held at pottery locations all over the country. Just one small way
that local potters are pitching in, helping out and still throwing pots!!!

Categories: pottery, special events

Tonight I participated in another Empty Bowls Project – a community event to help
combat hunger. And by participate, I mean donating to “buy” a bowl and EATING!!!

This time, the event was sponsored by Terra Incognito in LaGrange. Much like the event we
did earlier this year at Lillstreet Art Center. If you remember, the basic concept is that a bunch
of potters all donate ceramic bowls for the cause. Then on the night of the event, the place
is flooded with lots of people who purchase the bowls for $20 and then get it filled with food.
So they get the bowl, they get some food and they get to feel great donating to the cause!
When we arrived, the line was literally around the block with people waiting to donate!

In fact, in the photo above… you can “almost” see the bowl I picked out.
It’s in the far top corner, far right column of pots, third one down from the top.
Kind of a small teabowl shape, slightly squared off, with a nice mix & interaction
of glazes – almost crystalline, but not really… though sadly, not trimmed.

One of the coolest parts of the Terra Incognito event is that it is in conjunction with a lot
of the downtown LaGrange restaurants. So you take your bowl and set out to experience
free food from over 20 local restaurants. It’s extra fun to wander the town, see a bunch
of people filling their bowls and getting free food everywhere you go! From appetizer
bruschetta & crab cakes, to entree pizza, pasta & wings, to desserts of gelato, fudge &
cookies. Not necessarily in that order. In fact, we actually did the free fudge twice! Yum!

So I teamed up with my friend Nancy, who many of you have met as one of my art fair
and she is also the one responsible for getting me started in pottery several
years ago! But that’s a whole ‘nother story for another time! So we grouped up
with her husband and two other friends to do our charitable part…
and eat as much as we could to support the cause!

Categories: bike, sunrise

It was a beautiful, clear morning… yet deceptively chilly.
It appeared to be the start of an early Spring morning, but as I pedaled out
along the lakefront I could see my breath as it was a chilly 41-degrees!!!

Categories: artists, friends, My Talented Friends

Over the years, I’ve gotten to know a great watercolor artist on the art fair circuit.
She does beautiful paintings of birds and botanicals. And as she’s getting ready for
the kick-off of her art fair circuit, we’re getting a quick look at her newest piece!

Check out her website to see more watercolor works by Anne Gilna.
Go to my “Links” for a quick transfer to her website!

Categories: special events

So when the charity gala invitation says “black tie”… do you HAVE to go with a “black” tie?
How literal do you think the dress code really is?!… at least the coat & pants are black.

Categories: blogs

Say it isn’t so… “Fire When Ready Pottery”
is finally on FACEBOOK.

I’ve been very slow to hop on the Facebook bandwagon due to my own cynical,
pessimistic and sometimes curmudgeony opinions of it. But it’s time to get over that, huh?!
It seems like the entire world is now conversing on Facebook – and I don’t want to be left out.

So I’ve started a Facebook page for “Fire When Ready Pottery.”
Do a quick search and then become a Fan… err, I guess it changed recently to “Like.”
Now you just need to click on “LIKE” and it’s the same thing as becoming a Fan.
You’ll get some of the quickest & latest updates on some of the things going on in my world.
But don’t give up on this blog… this will always be my “favorite child.”