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

As camp was about to start this morning, I was quickly loading another bisque kiln.
Hurry… and I quickly learned that my ovals don’t pack quite as tightly as I would like.

The second layer was glazed terra cotta… my niece Taylor’s plates being fired!
Don’t panic… that groovy green color is actually low-fire clear glaze!

The third layer packed much tighter than the first. I love when there’s enough
greenware to pack the kiln tightly – and not “waste” precious kiln space.

Thanks to my friend Katie Biderbost who had some smaller mugs & pitchers
that fit in “perfectly” and helped fill the layer. Katie’s been working at Lillstreet
for years, and is now making these precious little pieces with some really
tight slip trailing. I can’t wait to see how her beautiful blue glaze breaks over
the decorations!

Once I had loaded my work, and Katie’s pieces, I had to rush off to camp. I left a layer open
on top for another studio-mate Karen Patinkin to top off with a few of her beautiful platters!

Categories: books, inspiration, television

Thanks to… my package came today… and…
I could finally erase all of the episodes of “LOST” Season Six off my TiVO!!!
Yes, I know it’s sad… I’ve “saved” all of the episodes. But I’m still suffering
from “LOST-separation-anxiety.” And am now ready to start over from the
very beginning with Season One’s original plane crash! But for now, my “LOST”
DVD collection is complete!  4 – 8 – 15 – 16 – 23 – 42… pathetic, I know…

Also in my Amazon package…
the latest “500” book from Lark Publishing… “500 Plates & Chargers.”
Sadly, I totally spaced out applying for this one?! Watching for their application deadlines
used to be a high priority… but somehow it fell off my radar this time?! But… luckily I have
been published in three of their other books… “500 Cups”, “500 Pitchers” and “500 Tiles”!
Check out this older blog post on “My Lark Trifecta.”

And a little guilty pleasure… also from Amazon, my favorite movie from third grade!
It’s a little short film by Albert Lamorisse called “The Red Balloon. A sentimental flick
about a lonely little French boy who is befriended by a Red Balloon! A saw it in 3rd grade
and still remember it to this day… check it out!!!

Categories: Chicago, sunrise

Just when I thought that this morning’s sunrise couldn’t get any better…
I received these photos from Scott Carlson this evening. They’re photos of
this morning’s sunrise as seen from his condo rooftop on Chicago’s west side.
Still stunning… even with all those buildings in the way!

Anyone else up early enough and willing to share their own sunrise photos?!

Categories: bike, sunrise
Categories: bike

So once again, Chris and I went on a wonderful ride up to the Chicago Botanic Garden
again after camp. And it was wonderful. And literally “wonder-filled”. The weather
was incredible once again, but something strange was in the air.

As we pedaled north, we saw plenty of deer early on… usually we see more on the way back.
We also saw a bit of roadkill, or should I saw “bike-kill”?… skunk killed by bike… really?!
We’ve never seen that before. Plus we saw a dead raccoon on the road… seen that one.
But as we went further north, we saw two Forest Preserve Sheriffs kind of “hanging out”
on the bridge overpass at Caldwell. Looking around, but doing a bunch of nothing. Again…
never seen that before.

We made it to the Botanic Garden which was beautiful as always. And as we sat back to relax
for a brief moment before turning around and heading back, I was once again struck by the
beauty of the silvery Aspen leaves against the deep blue sky.

And then we started pedaling back. When he got just south of New Trier High School, the
bike trail was blocked off by three, yes count them three, Forest Preserve police cars.
Flashing lights and all… one “cop” in each. They wouldn’t let us pass and continue on the
bike trail. We were pleasant, but pretended “we weren’t from these parts” and didn’t know
how to take the roads back to our cars and therefore had to continue on the trail. They didn’t
buy it. But they did say that would only be about 10 minutes. What?… how can you tell?!
If something is “going on” inside the woods, how do they know it will be done in 10 minutes?!
So we decided to go up to Winnetka Road and try another smaller bike trail entrance that
connects to the main trail pretty quickly. That entrance to the path wasn’t blocked off –
so were pretty pleased with ourselves. But shortly, down the path, and around another curve,
we saw this… something else we have never seen before…

One of the “cops” at this blockade was one of the original two who we passed earlier at
the Caldwell overpass. As well as being one of the three original cars in the first blockade.
He made us stop again… but then told us we could go through if we walked around the cars.
What?… why block the trail if it’s okay for us to continue on? And what happened to that
10 minutes they talked about?! On the other side of the cars, we ran into a group of bikers
& joggers who had been stopped. They were confused as to why they had been stopped –
and how we got through. As we were talking with them, we heard a shot in the woods.
Yep, another thing we’ve never experienced before on this ride. A shot? Or at least a loud
“clap” sound that shocked everyone. I joked about needing to wear my “blaze orange”
bike jersey next time. And then we pedaled on as WE had been “cleared” by the cop.

While riding, we kept trying to analyze what all of that was about. But to no avail.
And then when we were waiting to cross Glenview Road – a Glenview ambulance turned
the corner with siren blaring towards the direction of “the incident.” Coincidence?!

We still have no idea what was going on… but it sure was something!
We saw a lot of deer again today, but honestly… this was a lot more exciting!

Categories: summer camp

So we moved on from our Monday clay project and on to some basic color theory.
Since I have two different classes this week (morning & afternoon), I’m trying to
cover the same topics but in slightly different ways with different projects!

We started our discussion about color theory with primary, secondary and even
tertiary colors. Each kid then chose two primary colors and did a quick mix & match
to paint their own “color wheel” for their chosen colors. Seven different colors with a
nice gradation from color #1 to color #2. Today we continued our project on color
theory projects to reinforce what they’ve learned.

The morning class is now working on their color theory “collages.” They spent today
cutting out small squares from magazines that represent each of their seven colors.
Tomorrow, unbeknownst to the kids, they will take these squares and carefully collage
them in a smooth gradation on the face of the handmade kites they made yesterday!

The afternoon class continued their color theory project with abstract paintings.
Each of them followed my “cryptic instructions” to draw the abstract design. They
then carefully painted in all of the segments suing their seven colors. Here’s the catch…
each and every segment of the abstract had to be painted separately, and no two
adjacent segments could be the same color!

Tomorrow the morning class will continue the collaging & finishing their kites.
The afternoon class will “kinda continue” their color theory with some groovy tie-dye!
Not everyone remembered to bring in their shirts to tie-dye today… so I had to “label”
a couple of them to remind them… no shirt no tie-dye!

Categories: bike, sunrise


And without…

Categories: summer camp

We’re getting close to the end of summer… and Summer Camp. But not until
we make some more great art with the kids! So this week I have a very wide range
of kids – both in age and demeanor! It’s a challenge… but I’m always up for it.

So this week, we started with our clay project which was going to be woven plates.
But all of a sudden when I showed up Monday morning, my class “age range” was
somehow lower than I expected… so we shifted gears just a little and added in
some easier pinch-plates for the younger ones! The kids made their clay pieces and
squished them into Chinet plates as a slump mold. Add a little colored underglaze…
then a little clear glaze – and they’ll get their finished plates back on Friday!

Categories: bike, sunrise

This morning’s ride was beautiful ride with dramatic clouds on the horizon.
But as the sunrise gets later & later… my rides start out darker and darker…

And then finally the sun begins to break on the horizon… and the sky lights up…
and the horizon turns a beautiful shade of orange. And the clouds begin to dissipate.
Looks like it’s going to be another incredible day in Chicago!!!

Categories: special events

Today was possibly the best “weather day” of the entire summer!
Beautiful sun, nice breeze and no humidity… beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.
So what better place to spend it than going “back in time” to the Renaissance Faire!
Yes, I kid of hate to admit it… but I enjoy the Renaissance Faire… and no…
I DO NOT dress up in costume. That’s at least one step too far!

So went north just over the Illinois border to Bristol, Wisconsin where the annual
Renaissance Faire finds it’s midwest home. My friend Nancy came along for the ride
and enjoyed a day walking through the Middle Ages. Enjoying local artisans, strolling
minstrels, jugglers, and more! We did some shopping – and met a couple fun artists
along the way. Like a couple that does “needle felting” from Wayfarer’s Whimsy.
And Teresa Wooden, our favorite potter at the faire, from Stone Forest Pottery.

While a lot of the day is strolling through the Faire, there needs to be some relaxing
time here & there – like hanging out in the Sky Chairs… quite literally! Or walking through
the gardens, over the bridges and meadows. It’s always a great day at the Faire!

Part of the fun of the Renaissance Faire is watching all of the people dressed up
in elaborate costumes. And like I said, I am definitely NOT one of them!
But here are a just a few of them… a few of the “good” ones!

Although I must admit that my favorite character every year is the spider lady! She’s there
mysteriously & silently spinning her own yarn – and then building this elaborate web
that creates a canopy stretched between the trees… full of knick-knacks left behind.

But then again, here’s a few not so good costumes… and let me just say, there are more
than enough of them in “this” category to make your neck hurt from quick glances over
your shoulder!!! I know they encourage people to dress up at the Renaissance Faire…
but seriously… some people think it’s just an excuse to put on any costume and parade
around. Without friends or mirrors to tell them otherwise?! I’m always amused by the
wide “range” of costumes that aren’t even a bit Medieval – from Star Trek shirts, Asian
kimonos & Ewok capes… to fishnets, corsets and spandex stretched beyond belief?!

At the end of the day, we were leaving the Faire… with a final farewell from a blue
bubble-blowing fairy to bid us a fond adieu!

Oh yeah, one last thing… the food! Besides all of the usual treats like huge barbequed
turkey legs… we found a new favorite this time – deep fried macaroni & cheese! As well
as revisiting a great pizza place in Lake Bluff on the way home that I used to go to as a kid!