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

With “Empty Bowls” in full swing downstairs, I opted to be productive upstairs in my studio.
I ran downstairs to see what all the commotion was about… and it was great to see hundreds
of bowls all over the place & plenty of customers picking them up and donating to the cause!
I especially liked when I saw people carrying one of my bowls as their final choice! After all,
there were a dozen of my donated bowls to choose from!

Back upstairs, I started throwing some new pieces. Having received my “acceptance” letter
today for the Schaumburg Prairie Fine Arts Festival on Memorial Day Weekend, I thought I
better start making more flower pots for the Spring art fair selection! So I threw some more
traditional-style flower pots with the water dish attached.

What to do next?… well, there’s never enough bowls, right? So I decided to throw a batch
of bowls with B-Clay. Plan being that I will be ready for another soda kiln fairly soon,
and B-Clay turns out really nice in the back stack of the kiln… where most other clays
turn out “dry” after soda firing.

With my tables filling up quickly with freshly thrown pots, I had to make some room.
Luckily, the new batch of kitchen utensil crocks was already stamped and ready to be
trimmed. So I finished them off… and added decorative slip to a couple of them.

By the time I finished trimming the utensil crocks,
and made another trip downstairs to check out more “Empty Bowls”…
the new flowerpots were already stiff enough to start stamping! Giddy-up!

First with a single stamp pressed repetitively around the sides of the pot.
Then a small divot added around the rim to help with spacing.

With the proper spacing “indicators”… it is then pretty easy to “flute” the rim
all the way around. Consistently pressing the wet clay – enough to move the shape,
but not enough to squish or smoosh the shape of the pot… trying to avoid
an “ovalled-by-accident” flower pot!

After a few stamps… the new flower pots are decorated and ready to stiffen up to
leather-hard. They are now covered with plastic, as are the bowls. Tomorrow I plan to
head back to stamp the bowls. Maybe they’ll all be ready to trim on the next couple days.
And then I can make more!!!

Categories: artists, stamps

I love to get comments from “fans” on my blog.
It reminds me that people are really out there reading it… and that it’s not just me
rambling on here for no reason. And then, when I actually find out that my
ramblings have actually “inspired” someone, that’s even better!!! And here’s one!

So I’ve gotten a few comments over the past few weeks from Sam Brown. A potter
out in the middle of Nevada who has been feeling a little uninspired… although
challenged with a wonderful project! She has been working on a making two hundred
& fifty bowls. 250! That’s a LOT of bowls! Here are a few of Sam’s early bowls…

And then she found my blog… and realized how much fun stamped textures can be!
We’ve “chatted” a few times through the blog and she finally sent me some pictures
of her newly “inspired” pieces. I love the new direction she’s going. And I hope that
I’ve been able to put a little “jump-start” into the final stretch of her 250 bowls!

Here’s a “new, improved & inspired” stack of Sam’s new bowls!!

Plus, she also sent me a few other pictures of her paintings and basket-weaving.
I was intrigued by her combination of clay & basketry! Keep up the good work Sam!!!

Categories: artists, special events

eBay Auction – March 24th – March 27th
to help the victims of the Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami

“Handmade For Japan”‘s mission is to raise money through an online auction for relief efforts
to assist the victims of Japan’s catastrophic earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear emissions.

“Handmade for Japan” is an online auction of unique, handmade art donated by concerned,
invited artists. One hundred percent of all net proceeds collected via the auction
will be donated to the relief efforts in Japan. Because of the urgency of the situation,
the auction will begin on eBay on Thursday, March 24th and end on Sunday, March 27th.
The auction items will be listed under the “Handmade for Japan” seller ID.

Click here to go directly to the “Handmade For Japan” e-Bay Auction.

Handmade For Japan was borne out of concern for Japan’s residents by Japanese-American
ceramic artist Ayumi Horie. She, Ai Kanazawa Cheung, and Kathryn Pombriant Manzella
have mobilized to solicit, promote, and auction handmade pieces of art generously donated
by talented artists throughout North America and Japan.

Remember, this auction ends at 7:00pm Central time on Sunday, March 27th.

Categories: lillstreet, pottery
And by the way…
if you go to the Lillstreet website to read more about Empty Bowls…
you’ll see a stack of soda-fired bowls that are MINE!!! My pots have become the
“poster child” for the annual Empty Bowls Benefit. The bowls were created especially
for a Soda Firing Workshop with Australian potter Gail Nichols that I participated in
up at the Northern Clay Center in Minneapolis a few years ago! Very fun!

Categories: lillstreet, special events

Hundreds of Empty Bowls are up for grabs this Friday at “Empty Bowls.”
With handmade bowls being donated by students, teachers, studio members
and more, this annual event is sure to be a success again this year! I will be pulling
together a selection of my own bowls to donate towards the cause tomorrow.
So plan on stopping by Lillstreet Art Center this Friday night. Look through
hundreds of bowls, choose your favorites, buy them and fill them with soup!
It’s that easy… doing good for the hungry all around Chicago.

“EMPTY BOWLS” at Lillstreet Art Center
4401 North Ravenswood, at Montrose, Chicago, Illinois 60640
Friday, March 25, 2011, 5-9pm

The Empty Bowls Project is a nationwide effort by potters to end hunger.
Lillstreet Art Center is proud to host this 5th annual event to benefit First Slice,
a local hunger-fighting organization. Stop by for a modest meal of soup and bread,
served in a bowl donated by a ceramic artist that you may take home as a reminder
of all the other bowls you will have helped to fill. Bowls are $25 each, and there is
no limit to the number of bowls you may purchase. Sales begin at 5pm on a first-come,
first-served basis. There will also be a silent auction of artist-crafted items.

Categories: classes, lillstreet

Tonight was the final potluck celebration for my Beginning Wheel class.
Yes, after 10-weeks of clay fun, my beginners have all progressed quite nicely
and are now creating their own pots. We celebrated with a mug exchange… where
each student brought in a mug they had made and we did an “White Elephant” type
exchange game. So everyone who brought a mug went home with someone else’s mug!
Great fun… with a lot of sharing, encouragement & sharing!

But then… the highlight of the night???… a LOT of great food!!!
Yes, after weeks of some of the best class treats ever, this potluck did not fall short.
With pasta, spinach salad, homemade guacamole, chips, salsa, brownies, cookies,
caprese salad, scalloped potatoes, fresh fruit, Olivia’s sinful chocolate fudge creations
and possibly the best pasta we’ve ever had at a potluck. Yep, chef #1 brought in a dish
of whole wheat pasta with a pumpkin, goat cheese & sage sauce with spicy andouille sausage!

And what better end to the night than a slice of my homemade vanilla cheesecake
literally dripping in caramel sauce?! I’m just saying…

Categories: kiln firing

Once again, I was lucky enough to be “kiln filler” for a “not-quite-so-filled”
bisque kiln for the Artreach Program at Lillstreet. The kiln was only 2/3 filled
with assorted kids projects… and Jayson asked if would like to fill it up.
My answer was of course YES!!!

So I packed it tight, flush to the top! Stacked, nestled, sideways, upside-down,
whatever it took to get everything in! You know I’m always there to help the cause!
And luckily, unloaded a pile of fun tonight! One step closer to that cone 10 kiln…

Categories: lillstreet, Mom & Dad

Yesterday was the Spring Open House at Lillstreet Art Center.
As a resident studio artist, we’re kind of “expected” to be there. Which is fine by me
as it’s also a great chance to have people stop by, see me working and hopefully they’ll
become a customer or student down the road. So there I was, working on a few projects…
finishing up my lidded jar class demo piece, and the extra “lid” which is now a small
dipping bowl… and throwing small plates for the new berry bowls.

It’s a long day of greeting people…
“Welcome, let me know if you have any questions…”
“Welcome, let me know if you have any questions…”
“Welcome, let me know if you have any questions…”
Repeatedly. Over & over. Until, imagine my surprise, when my parents turn the corner
and I throw them the same stock response… and then realize it’s them! They had read
on the blog that it was the Open House and they decided to come down to visit and
surprise me… and they did! So they hung out, visited a few studios including metalsmith
Rebecca Zemans who they met a coiple years ago as my art fair booth neighbor in Hinsdale!

And then… when the day was over, we decided to go out for dinner. I think it might have been
their plan all along to go to Rose Angeli’s?! I think the “surprise studio visit” may have been a
good “means-to-an-end” for us all to get a great meal?! Which I’m totally fine with as you know
I LOVE Rose Angeli’s!!! And we did have an incredible meal… I had some Chicken Vesuvio
filled ravioli with parmesan cheese & lemon cream sauce concoction YUMMY!!! – and we
shared three desserts!!! Bread pudding with pools of hot caramel sauce, chocolate & peanut
butter ice cream, and a hot chocolate fondue pot! Plus some quality time to get caught up
on  a bunch of stuff. Including all of the craziness going on at Lillstreet these days!

Categories: lillstreet, studio

Holiday ornament batch #2 is now assembled, stamped, textured,
slip painted… and drying overnight!

New berry bowls are stamped, trimmed, hole-punched… and drying overnight!

Studio cleaned, organized, floors washed… and drying overnight!

The Lillstreet Art Center Spring Open House from 12:00pm-5:00pm.
Everything should be done, clean & dry by then. So stop by, say hello, see a lot
of great art, tour the facilities and participate in some free workshops!
I will be there all day working on some new pieces… Studio 205 West.

Categories: classes, lillstreet

The Spring Session of pottery classes will being at Lillstreet Art Center in just two weeks.
I checked in tonight and found out there are only five spaces left in my class. Five!!!
Sign up as soon as you can… no one likes to be on the waiting list!

Beginning & Advanced Beginning Wheelthrowingwith me!
Tuesday evenings from 7:00pm-10:00pm.
10-week session beginning on March 29th, 2011
Register online at