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

You know I love making mugs.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again… If I could only make one shape or form
for the rest of my pottery career, I would choose mugs. I love making mugs!
So tonight was a fun night as I opened up a bag of my newly reclaimed clay
and set out to make a “bag’s worth” of mug cylinders… which turned out to be 27.

It was extra fun tonight as my friends Pam & Pat just came back from a very long holiday
in Hawaii. They both came into Lillstreet tonight for a potluck, to see some friends
and so Pam could get back to making more pots… to finally get her hands dirty for
the first time this year!!!
And since her husband Pat doesn’t work in clay, he came up
to my studio to chat and to watch me throw. I had a small challenge to see how quickly
I could throw all 27 cylinders. Turns out I can throw 27 wedged balls into “mug cylinders”
in about 90 minutes… which also included talking to Pat and watching part of a movie
while I was throwing!!!
Not bad. But I’m sure the stamping, trimming, handle attaching,
drying, firing, glazing, firing, etc. will take a LOT longer!!!

It was also fun tonight as I finally got to give Pam her “belated” surprise Christmas present.
A couple weeks ago, Amy Higgason and I had dinner together and we decided to give one
of the bowls we made during our collaboration workshop to Pam. We had made five bowls
together. So Amy kept two, I kept two… and we thought Pam would love the fifth!!!
Pam has been in my class for the past couple sessions and was quickly enamored with Amy
and her techniques during the demo. We knew Pam would be thrilled… and she was!!!

Categories: Chicago
Categories: pottery, process, terra cotta

Tonight I glazed the interior of my terra cotta flower boxes with a new
brown low-fire glaze that I purchased from Chicago Ceramic Supply this morning.
I’ve never used this color before, so I hope they turn out “somewhat similar” to the
glaze test tiles they had there! As usual, I went right ahead with “reckless abandon”
and glazed them all… no need to test it on just one, right?!!!

Once glazed, I loaded them all into the kiln along with the long trays.
An overnight, electric kiln firing… and they should be cooled & done this weekend!

Categories: pottery, process, terra cotta, textures

So my terra cotta trays & flower boxes are finally bone dry.
So tonight I decided it was time to “stain” them with some black underglaze.
I like the look of the unglazed terra cotta after it has been stained, colored &
antiqued a bit with some black underglaze rubbed into them.

I start with covering the entire piece with water-down black underglaze.
I then let it sit for just a few minutes and then gently wipe off the top surface.
Making sure to to wipe off too much, or too deeply. The idea is to leave some
underglaze in all of the grooves and indentations. Really making the textures
and patterns “pop” without having to cover the terra cotta beauty with glaze

Once they were all stained, I called it a night. They need to dry again completely
overnight. Tomorrow I’ll glaze the interiors with a low-fire brown glaze. They can
then be loaded into the kiln and fired once. If all goes as planned…
they should be done by this weekend. My first kiln of the new year!

Categories: artists, photography

If you’re looking for great photography of your artwork… here’s the guy!
Literally. His name is Guy.

Guy Nicol : Photography For Artists

It’s the beginning of the long & arduous season of art fair applications…
and many of us start the season with new professional photography of our work!
I’ve used Guy Nicol for years. But I’ve heard that many artists don’t have a
resource for professional pictures. And sometimes, they make all the difference!
So if you’re looking for a great photographer to make your artwork look even better,
check out Guy’s new website!

Guy’s studio is on the third floor at Lillstreet Art Center. So it’s very convenient for
those of us who work there. But others like to drop off or ship their work to him directly.
Guy offers a wide range of services from traditional slide photography, to digital
images, as well as ZAPP-formatted images for online applications.

His work is very professional and can be seen in many publications as well.
Including three of mine! Beautiful photos by Guy… ceramics by me…
“500 Cups” – page 265
“500 Pitchers” – page 357
“500 Tiles” – pages 219 & 240

Categories: artists, My Talented Friends

Beautiful shapes. Beautiful textures. Beautiful glazes.
Gracefully combined by Kate Biderbostanother Talented Friend of mine!

I’ve know Katie for several years now since our days at the “original” Lillstreet Art
. In fact, Katie was one of my instructors early on as I was just getting started
in soda firing. Over the years, Katie has gone away for grad school and now returned
to Lillstreet as a studio member. She continues to teach around Chicago and…
she continues to make great pots!!! In fact, I’ve started quite the collection for myself!
Including a nice collection of Katie’s mugs as they’ve grown & changed over the years!
Her latest style is this beautiful “knit-woven” texture she creates with layers of slip.
Check out her new website and you’ll see her actually working on the detailing!

So now she finally has a website to share with everyone!
After many years of pots… many years of school… many years of teaching…
Katie has finally ventured onto the World Wide Web!!!
Check her out on her new website!!!

Categories: production, television

Today was another day of terra cotta fun in the studio.
Finishing up the terra cotta planters with drainage holes and little feet.
Setting them out to dry overnight so I can start finishing them with a
black underglaze wash n’ wipe before firing.

Plus… more “LOST” again.
A couple more episodes closer to the end.

Categories: production, studio, television, textures

Today was another day of terra cotta fun.
I made a couple long trays last week to fulfill a commission.
And as those are drying, I started making more pieces to help “fill the kiln.”
I can’t stand firing an “unpacked” kiln. I couldn’t bear to fire “just” the trays!
So today I worked on making some terra cotta flower planters. Textured on
all sides of the boxes… who wants a “normal” flower pot?!… NO ONE, that’s who!!!

And while I was working in the studio… playing with terra cotta… and textures…
I also spent several hours with several episodes of “LOST” Season Two!!! I’m rewatching
the entire series. Hoping to see if there were “little hints” along the way… and if there are
any other connections that make more sense now that we all know how is ended! I’m to
the point where “Henry Gale” has entered the Hatch and is now playing mind games
with Jack & Locke. Oh, how I’ve missed my Losties!!!

So glad that I have four more seasons  of “LOST” to rewatch…
So glad that I have a TV with a DVD in my studio!

Categories: blogs

Today was a blog milestone for me!
Five hundred comments posted here on my blog!!!

Thank you to everyone who has stopped by to read my musings,
see some photos… and share your own thoughts & ideas!
Keep ’em coming!

Categories: artists

So it seems that the current trend is to hop onto the bandwagon.
For those who might not know what Etsy is… it’s an online store for handmade art
by artisans around the country. Seems like everyone is doing it these days.
Which could also be a problem… too many artists all competing for the same buck!

But of course, I’m questioning if I should do it too?
My initial thought is… another place to sell my pottery is always a good idea.
My second thought is… I really hate to pack & ship my things. Yuck. Hassle.
My third thought is… it seems like a lot of organizational busy-work!!!
So then my final thought is… I’d rather be biking right now.

Anyway, a lot of my artist friends are having similar thoughts. Very few of them have
been doing it for any length of time. So we don’t have a lot of “practical” experience.
My gut reaction is that it is too much work, a lot of organizing, photographing, tracking,
packing, shipping and more! Plus, the fear of the accidental breakage during shipping
and how to deal with that headache?! And then there’s the fact that I really enjoy seeing
my customer’s faces light up as they admire & fondle my stamped-texture pots!

The newest entry into the Etsy foray is my friend and fellow potter Marjorie Woodruff.
She holds a special place in my heart as she was also my very first teacher at Lillstreet.
Early on, she encouraged me to give up my corporate job and become a full-time potter.
Well, here we are now… and I tell her it’s all her fault!!! And now it’s a lot of fun as we
both teach classes at Lillstreet now on Tuesday nights. I’m teaching beginning wheel class
and she’s teaching handbuilding.

Anyway, Marj has just opened her Etsy store online – featuring some really great plates
that she has done some nice sgraffito illustrations on them. Such sweet little plates.
Including this adorable plate that she made just for me… with obvious inspiration drawn
from my morning sunrise bike ride photo series – thanks Marj!

So now I’m looking forward to her progress on Etsy to see if she finds it successful.
Check out her store on Etsy… Marjorie Woodruff of Maplewood Clayworks.

Plus, just a few more of my artist friends who are on also for you to check-out…
Amy Taylor – nifty hinged jewelry
Roberta Polfus – small-scale carved porcelain pieces
Molly Bitters – Macabi Studios jewelry
Zach Medler – relief print ceramics

If you have any insights, experiences or opinions on… I’d love to hear them!
I’m leaning towards “no”… but that could easily change.