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

With the prediction of a huge snowstorm headed our way…
and the lakefront bike route basically clear this morning…
I decided to head out for another morning sunrise ride… not knowing
when I might get another chance if we get the snow they’re calling for?!

So the sunrise was beautiful – even with the distraction of the loudness!
Yes… it was LOUD!!! With the waves crashing in on the newly frozen lakefront
about a hundred feet into the lake… as well as the wind whipping in from the lake
and blowing through the bare tree limbs. It was incredibly loud.

It was cold. It was windy. It was loud.
And still stunning… both temperature and natural beauty!

Categories: architecture, Chicago

The art & architecture in Chicago is amazing.
And so often, I’ve walked past it for years and never quite stopped inside.
Well, today I visited the Palmer House in downtown Chicago and was amazed!

The story of downtown Chicago’s Palmer House is one of romance
and undeniable charm. Potter Palmer was a well-known Chicago business magnate.
She, a stylish socialite and philanthropist.

An introduction by his former business partner, Marshall Fields, sparked a romance
that led to perhaps one of the most extravagant wedding gifts of all time –
a Grand Chicago Hotel destined to take it’s place among the most luxurious hotels
in Chicago and the world.

Tragically, just thirteen days after its Grand Opening, the Palmer House fell victim
to the Great Chicago Fire. Determined to rebuild his luxury downtown Chicago hotel,
the Palmer House namesake secured a $1.7 million loan – negotiated on his signature alone.
On November 8, 1873, the new Palmer House welcomed its first guests, marking the
opening of what would become the nation’s oldest continually operating hotel.

Shortly after befriending Claude Monet in France, Bertha Palmer began decorating
the Palmer House with artistic treasures inspired by her French heritage, eventually
accumulating the largest collection of impressionist art outside of France.
The Palmer House was bedecked with garnet-draped chandeliers, Louis Comfort Tiffany
masterpieces, and at its heart, a breathtaking ceiling fresco by French painter
Louis Pierre Rigal, which was described by columnist George Will as “a wonderful protest
of romance against the everydayness of life.”

Categories: pottery, process, production, studio

Tonight I made it back to the studio with one primary focus… handles!
The stamped cylinders were all trimmed and ready… waiting for tonight.
So I came in and quickly pulled all 27 handles – and setting them up so they could
stiffen up a bit. The key to attaching “clean” handles is waiting for them to be
a soft leatherhard, bendable, yet not squishy. Luckily, by time I made it to the end
of pulling all 27 handles… the first ones were already stiffened a bit and ready to go!

So I started attaching handles… score, slip, attach, repeat…
but then I had to take a quick break. My friend & fellow potter Emily Murphy is
in town this weekend and visiting Lillstreet… her former pottery home! And by the way,
she’s huge!!! Very pregnant. Very cute. Looking like she’s ready to pop… but still has
a couple months to go! So after a very quick visit, it was back to attaching handles…
score, slip, attach, repeat… And after a lot of scoring… handles are now in place
and all cylinders are now mugs! Under wraps while the moisture-level balances out
until I can make it back in to add some colored slip accents.

Categories: studio, television

So tonight I was in the studio trimming the stamped mug cylinders and
cleaning up my studio a bit. Typically not the most fun… the cleaning part…
but it becomes a whole lot funnier when you throw in some of your
all-time favorites from “Seinfeld.” Still one of the funniest TV shows ever!
My personal favorite… The Soup Nazi. Plus other favorites… The Close-Talker.
The Backwards Indian Wedding. Muffin Tops. Sponge-Worthy. The Pirate Shirt.
Man Hands. Rhymes With A Female Body Part. Bizarro World. Shrinkage.
Master Of My Own Domain… not that there’s anything wrong with that!

And in case you’ve forgotten anything… here’s a quick reminder!
YouTube – 100 Seinfeld Quotes – Episode One

And since there are a LOT more than 100 funny Seinfeld quotes…
here’s a hundred more! Guaranteed to make you laugh again & again!
YouTube – 100 Seinfeld Quotes – Episode Two

Elaine was always my favorite. The dancing. The shoving. The sarcasm.
And here she is in the best Seinfeld Blooper ever!!! I still can’t watch
this blooper scene without laughing out loud. Still…
YouTube – Elaine Benes & Frank Costanza Blooper

Categories: artists, blogs, friends, My Talented Friends, nature, photography

You know how I like beautiful landscape photography.
And pride myself on a few of my own sunrise biking photos.
But here’s another friend of mine who takes great pictures!
Although I’m still wondering where the color went?

Personally I prefer my nature shots to be vivid color as Mother Nature intended.
But my friend Julie Wight sees the world differently through her camera lens
and creates these stunning, and sometimes haunting, black & white photographs.
I’m entranced by the composition, the contrast, the geometry… basically all of it.

The majority of the work I have seen of Julie’s has been this kind of austere nature shot.
But recently, Julie kicked off her own photography blog to showcase more of her photography.
And this time, it’s not all landscapes. I can’t wait to see where her blogging journeys take her.
Be sure to check out her new blog adventures –

Categories: pottery

So this morning I got a text message during Step Class.
Typically I don’t even think about it until class ends… sweating… huffin’ & puffin’…
but I was waiting for a “movie response” from one of my friends, so I checked it when
I heard the alert. It wasn’t who I was waiting for. Instead, it was a picture from Pam,
one of my favorite customers, showing me how she had hung the wall pocket vase
she had purchased over the holidays and filled with flowers! She loves it… and I’m happy!

If anyone else has pictures of my work being used in your home, or a friend’s home,
or your office, or your garden… well, anywhere… I’d love to see. I especially enjoy seeing
that my pottery is actually being used and that my customers are pleased.

Take a picture.

Categories: pottery, process, production, stamps

When I unloaded my electric kiln, I finally got my bisqued stamps back.
The newest batch of stamps ready to use. And lucky for me, I had twenty-seven
mug cylinders ready to be stamped! So I set forth and started stamping…

I “forced myself” to only use the new stamps for this go-around. Trying to figure out
which patterns I liked and which ones might not work out so well. I must say,
I was pleased with the results so far…

Categories: kiln firing, pottery, process, production, terra cotta, textures

This afternoon I unloaded my electric kiln full of terra cotta – and some new stamps!
So my first kiln of the New Year is finally done. And everything turned out great!
I especially love the rustic orange color of the terra cotta and the “antiqued” quality
that the black underglaze gives it.

So here’s my dilemma… In my head these were intended to be planters for outside
on your deck or patio. And I know that I don’t like my outdoor plants to have trays
as they collect water and sit in puddles after it rains. So I didn’t make water trays to match.
Should I have made matching trays?! A couple people at the studio have asked
about the trays – and now I’m kind of second-guessing myself. Keep in mind, that not
everyone would need the tray. But if I were to make trays to match, it not only means
I need to make trays to the correct sizes and keep them together as pairs, but it also
increases the price point by nearly double! Is it worth it?!