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!


March 1st, 2011

I’ve watched your posts on summer camps for the last couple of years. You do a great job with the kids. Great projects!

I’ve been teaching camps for the last 12 years here in PA..but I won’t be this years since the art center closed. It’s a relief for me..I haven’t seen a beach or pool on a regular basis in years.

March 1st, 2011

Thanks. I love summer camp!
It’s going to be a very busy summer once again. But those kids keep me laughing all summer. I love their creativity, their enthusiasm & their crazy stories. And if I can get them excited about art along the way, it will be another great summer!

C. Yalater

March 1st, 2011

From your past posts, the kids are in for a great time! They make such fantastic work.
I don’t know how you do it – I like kids, but I’m not the one who could keep their boundless energy channeled into the task-at-hand like you seem to be able to.

How do you get all those kids to the AI? Do you rent a van, or do their parents meet you there? Just the logistics of that is something!

Speaking of vans, what ever happened to the Lillstreet “Claymobile”? It was still kinda active in 2008 when I was still at Lill. Has it been mothballed?

March 2nd, 2011

The kids keep me laughing every day. Some days are tougher than others to keep them focused. But I think the key is to treat them like “little adults” and not condescend to them! I like to challenge them with “real” projects with some real art concepts behind them… and not just sticks, glue & glitter like some of the other teachers!!! I know my campers and their parents both appreciate that!

As for the Art Institute, and Lincoln Park Zoo for Wild Things, we actually rent a bus for the kids. We pile in for the field trip, spend the day there, and then the bus picks us up again. It’s keeping them all “corralled” at the museum that is the bigger challenge… and focused, and quiet, and not touching!!!

The “Claymobile” is still around. Although I seem to see it sitting in a parking space in front of Lillstreet more frequently than not?! I know that the Artreach Program just got a new Director, so maybe that will change soon? I’d love to see it out in the neighborhoods a lot more!

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