Gary Jackson: Fire When Ready Pottery
A Chicago potter’s somewhat slanted view of clay & play
Categories: classes, lillstreet, summer camp

I know today was a cold & dreary Winter’s day...
And summer seems a long ways away. But it’s never too soon to start
planning the summer schedule for the kids! Registration is already open
for this summer’s art camps at Lillstreet Art Center! Summer camp begins
on June 6th and goes weekly up to Labor Day. It’s going to be a very busy
summer with camps & art fairs… and a little biking thrown in for fun!

So, here’s my teaching schedule so far. At this point, we only know the dates
of the “theme” camp weeks that we’re slated for. Additionally, I’m sure I will
also be teaching wheelthrowing, multimedia and other fun camps during the
weeks in between the schedule of my “theme camps” below!

June 13th – June 17th – Functional Sculpture For Your Garden
A full week of projects intended to make your garden extra special this summer!
Large ceramic planters, maybe a birdbath or totem pole, and other forms of whimsy!

June 27th – July 1st – Wild Things!
With a field trip to Lincoln Park Zoo on Tuesday, the week will be all about animals!
Lots of clay, drawing, painting… and possibly a lot of gooey plaster fun!!!

July 18th – July 22nd – Chess Camp
One of the coolest camps every summer! In just one week, the kids will create their
own “theme” chess set out of clay, and paint a chess board to match! It’s a lot of work
but also a lot of fun for everyone throughout the week!

August 1st – August 5th – Fire. Forge. Feast.
Can’t decide to play in the clay or work with metal?! In this camp, you get to do both!
We’ll start the week making clay plates, bowls, cups & handles… and then move into
metals making knives, forks, spoons! We wind it all up with a big potluck lunch
on Friday using the dinnerware we’ve made all week!

August 15th – August 19th – Chess Camp… again!
Just as much fun as the first week of Chess Camp!

August 22nd – August 26th – Gallery Artists: Learning From The Masters
Never too son to start the kids on a little Art History, presented in a fun camp!
The kids will learn all about some of the Masters who have passed the test of time.
Along with a field trip to the Chicago Art Institute, the kids will do art projects all week
“in the style” of famous artists! Ending with a gallery show of their work!

Sign-up early for a theme camp!!! Register on
And be guaranteed a wonderful time this summer!

Categories: seasons, textures

This morning was gorgeous. Everything was covered with a sheet of ice.
The trees. The sidewalks. My car.

While most people were complaining about the hassle & danger…
I was busy appreciating the incredible beauty of it all. Loving the textures
and the way it defracted everything behind the glass of my windshield!

Categories: art fair

I’ve finally finished the last of my summer art fair applications!
They go off in the mail tomorrow… whew!.. and now my fingers are crossed!

It amazes me every season how difficult it is… every fair wants something different,
in a different format, some slides, some online, some ZAPP, blah, blah, blah…
This check, that check… and the dreaded SASE : self-addressed stamped envelope!
All that work, only now to wait for a decision on whether they want you or not.

Categories: movies

So tonight is Hollywood Self-Appreciation Night! Also known as the Oscars.
Since I’m a fan of the movies and pop culture, I try to watch as many of the movies
that are nominated for Best Picture. Since last year when they up’d it from
five movies to 10, it’s a little tougher to see them all. So far, I’ve seen eight out of 10.
I still need to see “True Grit”… and the DVD for “Winter’s Bone” is arriving
tomorrow from Netflix!!! A day late, and a movie short…

“Black Swan” – my vote for Best Picture. I think it was the movie I enjoyed the most.
I was engaged the whole time. I loved the unexpected twists. Kinda freaky. Very cool.
Also kind of freaky when you see how skinny & emaciated Natalie Portman is in the
movie… and then look at her now!!! My guess is that she’ll waddle onstage to accept
her Oscar for Best Actress tonight

“The King’s Speech” – Sure, the acting was incredible. Sure, Colin Firth will win
for Best Actor. Sure, he’s always good in every movie he does. I just don’t care. Sorry.
I put him in the same category as Meryl Streep & Julianne Moore. Always great acting,
but I still don’t care. And my other thought… if you’re part of the Royal Family and you
have this terrible stammering problem, don’t you think they would have fixed it well before
then… like maybe third grade?! When they fixed my own “lack of R’s” speech impediment!

“The Social Network” – A lot of hype. You know I’m not a huge fan of Facebook
to begin with. And this movie didn’t win me over. It was all about this deposition,
that deposition, and lot of guys in hooded sweatshirts. I thought the coolest part
was the fact that the “twins” were played by one actor!

“127 Hours” – I loved it. Now of course, I also do long distance bike trips by myself.
And I’ve hiked in canyons very similar to the one in the movie. I thought the movie was
very well filmed – considering he was trapped in the canyon for the majority of the movie?!
And I can totally understand the sense of adventure and the eventual message!

“The Fighter” – okay… I saw “The Wrestler” a couple years ago. Do I need to see this too?
I thought Christian Bale did a great job playing the crack addicted brother. But I’m afraid
that Markie-Mark was really still just Markie-Mark. The really movie scene stealers were
the gaggle of sisters. Loved ’em. I think they should get a spin-off of their own!!!
I’m guessing that Christian Bale will win Best Supporting Actor, as well as the Mom for
Best Supporting Actress. Although I’d LOVE to see an award for Best Supporting Sisters!!!

“Toy Story 3” – Yes, it’s a great movie. Yes, I may have shed a small tear towards the end.
But I guarantee you that it never would have been nominated for Best Picture back when
they only nominated five pictures. Still, it was sad to finally say goodbye to Woody & Buzz.

“Inception” – A dream, in a dream… and I almost fell asleep. I’m not a big fan of movies
that rely SO much on the supposed “coolness” of all the computer graphics. The story was
pretty tough to follow. And I’m pretty sure I got it… and it wasn’t worth the work.

“The Kids Are Alright” – Again, never would have made it onto the Best Picture list
when there were only five movies nominated. I felt like I was watching a newer, trendier
ABC After-School Special about “my two moms.”

“True Grit” – I’ve seen the original… do I need to see the remake?!

“Winter’s Bone” – Like I said, the DVD shows up tomorrow. I’ve heard there’s some
good acting. Too bad I won’t be seeing it in time to “vote.”

Now there were a couple other movies I’ve seen recently…

“Exit Through The Gift Shop” – up for Best Documentary Feature. It’s a cool movie
about the world of graffiti street artists and the film maker that followed them. Should be
interesting as one of the guys nominated is one of the street artists – but he’s never
been seen, he speaks through a voice distorter, and is constantly cloaked in black!

“Catfish” – should have received a Documentary Nomination… but didn’t. I enjoyed it.
It’s about a New York photographer who befriends a Michigan girl who paints copies of
his photographs. They become Facebook friends, then her family “friends” him too…
and then things begin to go awry! A little creepy…

And the Oscar goes to…

Categories: architecture, Chicago

So the performance of “Les Miserables” was incredible. The theater ain’t too shabby either!
Unfortunately, I had this crazy usher lady yelling at me… I’ll just call her “Imelda Marcos”…
well before the show was even close to starting. Apparently “she” thinks that you can’t take
pictures at all inside the theater anywhere?! Crazy!!! Especially when it looks like this!

Categories: special events

Tonight was my perfect evening.
An incredible evening at my favorite restaurant in Chicago – Rose Angeli’s.
Followed by a performance of my all-time favorite musical – “Les Miserables.”

The night started with an incredible meal at Rose Angeli’s with my friend Nancy.
With plenty of time, we decided to start with an appetizer of spinach-artichoke dip…
but amped up with a ton of cheese and great portobello mushrooms in the mix!
The best spinach-artichoke dip EVER!!!

Followed by their “special of the week” pasta… pumpkin raviloi with a marsala wine
marscapone cheese cream sauce with roasted red bell peppers, chopped scallions,
toasted walnuts & dates!!! Incredible! Savory & sweet. It’s the chopped dates
that makes the whole thing come together!!! Love ’em.

Then for dessert, we of course had to go with my all-time favorite – hot caramel sauce…
with a side of brad pudding as the “vehicle” to get the caramel in my mouth! But…
and oh, but wait there’s more…
our waitress, the amazing Catherine, also brought us
a complementary dessert of homemade chocolate & peanut butter ice cream, with cold
caramel sauce, bananas & fresh blackberries! C’mon now!!! I’m sure the people at the
tables around us thought we were complete pigs with huge entree dishes AND two huge
desserts for the two of us. But we only ordered one dessert, really… I swear!!!

Then we headed downtown for my favorite Broadway musical! Les Miserables.
Yes, I’m a dork. And I must admit that I’ve seen the stage show live “several” times.
I own three, okay, after tonight, four CD versions of the soundtrack… as well as the
DVD of the 10th Anniversary Concert event! Which I have watched endlessly at the studio!
I’m hooked. It’s the perfect musical – story, songs, emotion, talent, staging, everything!

It’s hard to believe that it’s the 25th Anniversary of the show?! So they’ve re-imagined
and re-staged the musical to give it a new look. Still the same story, but this time it was
a lot darker & grittier. The voices were still incredible. And no revolving stage?!
Instead, the back cyc wall continued to change & move with projected images of
Victor Hugo’s original paintings! The imagery moved as the play evolved in a seamless
and creative way. Nicely done! I would tell you all to go see it, but sadly, tomorrow
is the last performance here in Chicago!

Once again, Eponine was my favorite. The actress had incredible voice and she got
to sing my favorite Les Miz song “On My Own.” And then dies a couple songs later…
SPOILER ALERT! As well as Jaevert’s big suicide scene… incredible staged with
possibly the longest “drop” ever!

So again, tonight was possibly a perfect night.
Great food with a great friend. And an incredible performance of “Les Miserables.”

Categories: artists

Okay, I have a basic art theory… one of something is okay, three of them make a set,
five make a collection, but THOUSANDS of anything can make something really cool!!!

Meet Andrew Myers, one of the most patient modern-day sculptors around.
This California-based artist goes through a multi-step process to create incredible
works of art you almost have to see (or touch) to believe. He starts with a base, plywood
panel, and then places pages of a phone book on top. (Cool fact: He’ll use pages from
his subjects’ local area.)
He then draws out a face and pre-drills 8,000 to 10,000 holes,
by hand. As he drills in the screws, Myers doesn’t rely on any computer software to guide him,
he figures it out as he goes along. “For me, I consider this a traditional sculpture and
all my screws are at different depths,” he says.

One of the most challenging parts is getting rid of the flat drawing underneath because
he then has to paint over each of the screw heads, individually, so that in the end,
the sculpture looks like an actual portrait. Look through these photos and you’ll notice
that the real magic happens when you see these pieces from an angle.

Categories: holiday, production

With Christmas exactly ten months away…
is it ever too early to begin making more Christmas ornaments?!

Categories: process, production, stamps

More bowls. More stamping. More fluted rims… and this time, in very close detail!
So much so, that if you look closely, you can see my fingerprints!

Categories: process

So I stopped over at Chicago Ceramic Supply this morning for more low-fire glaze
for my terra cotta planters. I wanted Espresso glaze… but the were out of it?!
They were also out of Walnut & Chocolate. So I ended up with two new colors…
Caramel & Cocoa. And now I’m just hungry…