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

Not to be outdone, beginning student Erik… also known as Pastry Chef #3…
really stepped it up a notch (or 12) tonight. We’ve had some great snacks
from the other two pastry chefs Cam & Paul… but tonight… look out!!!

Tonight we were treated to some incredible treats – two different kinds that each
required a “legend” to explain what they were. Erik drew us a chart!!! With too many
layers of incredible taste treats!!! And for undoubtedly the first time ever at Lillstreet…
real gold dust covered cocoa bits on top!

Sweet treat #1 – “Amber”
With layered goodness from bottom to top: milk chocolate crisp, caramel, caramel cream,
lemon madeliene, more caramel cream, caramel glaze and the gold-covered cocoa bits!

Sweet treat #2 – “St. Lucie”
Again, from the bottom to top: white chocolate crisp, strawberry jam, yuzu curd,
coconut-lime cake, strawberry jam, coconut mousse.

Special thanks to Erik for treating us big-time this week – and for the incredible sweets!
Trust me – they were incredible!!! And if you want something equally special, visit Erik
and get some great treats at Vanille Patisserie – 2229 Clybourn in Chicago.
Or shop online –

And not to be underestimated, another beginning student & non-pastry chef, Hanna
brought in another tasty treat she made too. I’m always willing to bring treats too…
so I brought some Thin Mints! Not surprisingly… my treats were the only ones
left over at the end of class!

Categories: classes, lillstreet, process

Tonight we worked on making basic bowls. It’s Week Six… and it was time
for my beginners to learn how to make real bowls – and not a cylinder gone bad!
So we started out with my demo of throwing basic bowls. With a nice smooth
curve inside, instead of a flat bottom & corners! So everyone made bowls…
but anyone can make a bowl. So we went a little further and worked on some
basic decoration techniques to make their bowls a little more special!

I started by quickly throwing eight bowls… all quick, all round, all plain.
And then we started playing… flanges & stamping, and dragging spirals through slip!

Chattering a rib through slip , and pressing in a “fish scale” tool to make a flower!

Then fluting the rim in four places, and a layer of black slip waiting for some sgraffito!

Then folding out the rim & stamping which I did a little after class when the bowls were
a little drier… as well as chattering done by one of my beginners Hanna!

Categories: studio

Is it so bad that I polished off a full box
of Thin Mints for dinner???

Categories: production

I worked all night tonight in the studio making the water drip trays
to go with the newest batch of terra cotta planters. Because “some people”
seem to think that they need trays?! I’m still not sure…
We’ll see how this debate plays out at the spring art fairs!!!

Categories: classes, friends, inspiration

Congratulations to my friend, potter & former Lillstreet student Pam Johnson-Howe
who just had two of her handmade mugs make it onto the “special shelves”
for extraordinary student work as it comes out of the kiln!

Pam used to be a tile maker and never threw on the wheel. After years of tile classes,
Pam finally decided to try a wheelthrowing class at Lillstreet and ended up in my class.
And we’ve been friends every since. It was so much fun to watch her love for clay blossom
every time she touched the clay. And now she’s addicted just like the rest of us. She’s even
moved on to her first Intermediate Class and is going ever deeper into the addiction!

It was especially evident when my friend & potter Amy Higgason stopped by last Fall
to give my beginning wheel students a very special demonstration on her incredible
surface decoration techniques. All of my students, as well as students in other classes,
were enthralled by Amy’s techniques & anecdotes. Pam was completely entranced by Amy
and has since been using a lot of Amy’s techniques on her own work. And it is definitely
paying off… as seen by these two sweet mugs!!!

Categories: kiln firing

Don’t you love it when you’re working on something else…
and then you find out that someone else is loading a kiln and they have
extra space to be filled?! And you just happen to have greenware ready to go?!

Well, last night my friend Marian was loading a kiln of her work and kid’s projects
but didn’t have enough to fill the kiln. So I got to fill the bottom of her kiln
with my work before she finished it off with hers! My pieces filled the bottom layer
and a half. Waiting for Marian to top it off. I just love being the “free” kiln filler!!!

Categories: process, production, terra cotta, textures

Last night at the studio, I finally got around to adding the textured rims around
the top of my new planters. Coil, attach, texture. Coil, attach, textures. Repeat.

Today I’m headed back to the studio to add feet and drainage holes… and then start
on the water drainage trays that will go with this batch of planters! After the online
discussion about the last batch, the response was mixed as to whether or not terra cotta
planters even need water trays?! So we all kind of decided to leave the first batch
“trayless” and make a second batch with trays. Then we’ll see how they sell…
and if there is a definitive answer after the first couple art fairs this spring?!

Categories: classes, lillstreet

Tonight was another pottery class… week four of our ten-week session.
We tackled basic glazing & throwing plates. Nothing too exciting…
at least by comparison!!!

I brought left-over Valentine’s candy – conversation hearts & Hershey’s Kisses.
Only to be out-done once again by Cam, one of my beginning students who is also
a pastry chef. He can “show me up” anytime!!! I’m pleased to eat… tonight it was
Fudge Sour Cream Habañero Brownies with Sal-De-Mer Caramel Sauce!

Now I’ve frequently said that I have the palate of a four-year old.
Nothing is every too rich, too sweet or too chocolately. Pile on the frosting!!!
But these were “adult” brownies!!! And they were incredible. The first bite was
“just a brownie.” But then, the flavor started to build. Each bite brought on more
flavors – and by the end of the brownie, my mouth was singing!!!
I think it sang about five times!… although I lost track of how many I had?!

Categories: television

Okay, so I’m in the middle of Season Three in my “LOST” re-watch! And…
tonight I got to one of my all-time favorite episodes… that everyone else hated!!!
When it first aired, there was a LOT of griping about how stupid the episode was.
How it didn’t matter. It was a useless-information episode. That nobody cared
about these two people who unexplainable show up in Season Three… as though
they’ve been there the whole time?!

I thought it was brilliant. And very tongue-in-cheek how the writers finally
addressed the viewers questions about “the rest of” the passengers who survived
the crash of Oceanic Flight 815 – but never got to do anything “on screen.”
Okay, so we had Arzt who tried earlier… but we all know what happened to him!
They finally introduced two new characters who were “there all along” but gave
them a storyline, interspersed them into scenes we had already seen previously
and used them to reveal things from a different vantage point…

and then killed them!!!       Kind of… oops…   SPOILER ALERT !!!

Imagine how exciting it would have been for these actors to finally get the call,
and find out they’ve landed a spot in the hit show “LOST”… only to find out that
you only get three episodes and then you’ll be buried alive!!!

Going through “LOST” again from the beginning has been great fun. There are lots
of little things that I had forgotten about. Plus hints & clues that we didn’t put much
thought into – but now knowing how it all ends, some scenes take on new importance.

R.I.P. Paulo & Nikki… some of us will miss you!!!

Categories: process, production, terra cotta, textures

After the comments & discussions over the last batch of terra cotta planters,
the consensus was that I should leave the first batch as it was. Tray-free.
And then make a second batch with drip trays! So that’s where I’m at.
Tonight I started constructing the textured terra cotta planters. Walls done.
Bottoms added before I left for the night… finishing details in the next couple days!