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

Just a few spectacular sunrise shots, in sequential order…
for those of you who prefer your sunrises without my bike in the way!

Categories: bike, sunrise

A few minutes later and a little further down the road, the sun decided to make its
grand appearance on the horizon… illuminating the clouds and changing colors
from minute to minute. Each sunrise picture “painted” cooler than the next...

Categories: bike, sunrise

Very dark. Very moody. Very cool this morning along the lakefront for my sunrise ride!
Stunning both with and without my bike. I couldn’t decide – so here’s both!

Categories: bike, nature

After camp this afternoon, Chris & I went up to the Skokie Lagoons for a little kayaking!
We’ve pedaled our bikes through these lagoons for years along the North Branch Trail
and never once even considered kayaking before. This year, it was finally time!
And as luck would have it, there is now a convenient rental location right off Tower Road,
right on one of the lagoons! So we gave it a brief “test drive” last Monday as a quick break
in the middle of our afternoon bike ride. Today we planned ahead & left the bikes at home –
with full intention of kayaking after work instead of biking!

So we hopped into our rented kayaks and started off. Last Monday we headed south
and went around the closest island. Today we decided to go north up to the
Botanic Garden and back. About 6 miles. With map in hand… we paddled off.

It was a beautiful afternoon with some dramatic clouds rolling through. There were
a few moments of “dark clouds” as we questioned if we were going to rained upon.
Luckily, we didn’t – the clouds blew over and the sky cleared up. With more beautiful
clouds to contrast against the beautiful blue skies.

As the sun started to go down, the water lilies had already closed for the evening.
I can’t wait to paddle again a little earlier in the day to see the blossoms wide open.

As we paddled through the lagoons, Chris and I got to see a lot of waterfowl and trees.
We were surprised by the number of Great Blue Herons we saw flying all around us.
Up close & personal, swooping & squawking, flying from tree to tree. Dozens of them!
Along the way, we also had to get out of our kayaks and portage across three small
embankments. And for the novice… let’s just say, neither of us looked all to graceful as
we tried to maneuver our way out of the boat, and then back in without flipping it over.
Let’s just say, the opening in the kayak isn’t as large as I would like it to be… to get my
legs, thighs & butt wedged in there! Like threading a needle… while still afloat?!

And then we turned another corner, around the river bend… and we spotted this incredible
tree full of waterfowl. How spectacular is this? The “tree” was in constant movement as
the birds flew in, and flew out, and interacted with each other. On a side note?…
let’s just say that the green bushes below this tree were a lot “whiter” than they should be!
Sadly… I don’t know my birds well enough to identify this tree-perched grouping?!

EDITOR’S NOTE: After this initial posting, I was informed by my birding-friend
& fellow potter Karen Avery that these flocking water birds are actually called
Double-Crested Cormorants. Who knew?!
– – – – – – – – okay, well I guess she did?!!!

Now these waterfowl I can identify… a row of female mallard ducks sunning themselves.

As we came around the final bend, and paddled towards the shore to finish our journey,
one last glimpse back and there was a wonderful sunset in the making! A perfect end
to a perfect afternoon… and a nice “alternative” to pedaling up to the gardens!
Close, but not quite the same… paddling, instead of pedaling!

Categories: bike, sunrise

This morning was beautiful with a full range of colors that started in the early morning
with rich, saturated colors… and then changed into vibrant pinks as the sun began to rise…
and then changed into wispy pastels!

Categories: bike

Today was unbearable hot. With incredible humidity. And very strong winds.
So what better day to go for a really long bike ride!? Like a hundred mile bike ride?!

Well, today was the Bike Psychos Century which started in Coal City in central
Illinois down by Kankakee. The ride started out pretty nice – good weather, cool breeze
and a relaxing rest stop early on for “breakfast.” Chris and I stopped off for a quick bite
and to refill our water bottles… unbeknownst of what lies ahead…

As the ride progressed, it got a lot windier… and a lot hotter! I would venture to say that
it easily went over a hundred degrees in the heat of the day! And the humidity was a killer.
Sweat was running down my face, okay, my whole body! I had to stop a couple times just to
wipe the sweat out of my eyes! And to make it even tougher, the wind as whipping across
the country farm fields. It felt like a headwind the entire time… exhausting! At the halfway
point, our rest stop was at Matthiessen State Park (very near Starved Rock State park).
It’s a beautiful park with a beautiful river gorge  & rock formations. I hate to say it… but
we were just too hot, sweaty & exhausted to even walk down to see it. Instead we were
focused on drinking one bottle after another of water & Gatorade. It seemed impossible to
keep the fluids in… as I was sweating them out faster than I could swallow!!! Still…
another wonderful ride, albeit a little more exhausting than most Century rides!!!

Categories: production

Something new in the works… they started as my own “need” to make some kiln fillers!
I hate nothing more than empty spaces in a kiln. And since I’m working to fill another
glaze kiln in another week (shared with Karen Patinkin), I had some spare time and
decided to make some little things and I call them… “kiln fillers”! We’ll see what becomes
of them… and if they work as I think they might… more to come!

Categories: kiln firing, pottery, process, Taylor

After a little splash of clear glaze… and nice electric firing…
my niece Taylor’s handmade set of dinnerware is all done! And ready for her
to cook us all dinner and serve it up on her new dishes! Shhh… don’t tell her…
I want them to be a surprise. She doesn’t know they’re done yet…

Categories: summer camp

Today I completed our exploration of basic “color theory” with my Summer Campers!
They’ve already mixed their colors in paint to create their secondary & tertiary colors.
And we ended the week with collage projects where they had to “transfer” their own
color palette onto a collage kite! Squares of colors arranged in a color gradation!

Once they all had finished their collage kites, we did one last “teambuilding” project
where they all worked together to put their color theories to work one last time for the week.
With Christian in the lead, they all worked together to create a large mural using only the three
primary colors – and a lot of blending & mixing to create their color spectrum.

Categories: summer camp

Okay… sometimes it’s best not to tell me your birthday is coming…

So one of our all-time favorite Summer Campers was in camp this week.
And made the “mistake” of telling me that her birthday was Friday… today!
So I figured I just had to make her a birthday tiara out of pipe cleaners
and “force” her to wear it all day long! And she did… Happy Birthday Maya!!!