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

With my latest kiln unloaded, and a “free” weekend on the calendar…
I decided to join my parents on a weekend studio art tour up in Northern Iowa
and Southeastern Minnesota. With 30 studio artists in the area, we’re taking our
time to make it around to all of the locations. Today we started with some drizzle,
but that didn’t dampen our spirits.

Let me just start by saying that not all of the artists in the area are making work
that appeals to me. But I do appreciate the fact that they are making art and loving it.
And sharing their passion, discussing their art and welcoming us into their studios.

We saw pottery, stained glass, painted silk, basketry, watercolors, woodworking and
more. We saw some “primitive” art… and some more advanced art. Something for everyone.
We met an older couple in their electricity-free log cabin. We watched a wood kiln firing.
We stopped in an artisan gallery with really nice stuff by a lot of artists. Here’s a few…

Allamakee Wood Fired Pottery is located in New Albin, Iowa. Graceful thrown forms
with a beautiful wood-fired surface were their strengths. Well, that and their really nice
black lab mascot that greeted everyone who came. While their work was beautiful,
it was also fun to watch Nate and a friend as they were towards the end of their 4-day
firing cycle in the wood kiln. Nearing cone 10, they were stoking in all ports and
coming close to the end.

George Lowe is another potter who we’ve met before during the St. Croix River Valley
Pottery Tour
… so yes, I will be seeing George and his pots again next weekend! But it is
always interesting to see the artist in their studio. To see their work in progress, their kiln,
their surroundings… and all of the crazy things on their walls that serves as inspiration!
George has a great collection on his wall, as well as a very productive looking studio…
there was a LOT going on in there!

Martha Monson Lowe…
And not only does George make beautiful pots, but his wife Martha makes incredible baskets
as well. Typically I’m not a huge fan of basketry. I can admire the craftsmanship, but I really
don’t care to have a bunch of baskets in my house. With that said, Martha’s baskets were
probably the best baskets I’ve seen. They were not only well made, but they were also very
well-designed. Architectural shapes, interesting textures, beautiful hand-dyed materials.
She even collects her own walnuts to dye the reeds a beautiful brown color!

For more information about the artists and the Bluff Country Studio Art Tour…

Categories: artists, pottery

And while I was unloading the kiln… I also took a few quick shots of Karen Patinkin’s
beautiful porcelain pieces! She does this exquisite & incredibly labor-intensive glaze
technique. But when you see the results… you can see it’s well worth it!

And if you scroll back a few weeks on my blog, you’ll see these same “veggie” bowls
in the works. See what they looked like in the middle of the process before the firing
made all the colors pop!

Categories: glaze, kiln firing, pottery, production

This afternoon I unloaded another kiln. This time it was a regular cone 10 reduction kiln
that I shared with my studio-neighbor Karen Patinkin. We have a pretty sweet kiln deal –
I load the kiln, she fires the kiln, I unload the kiln… well, for the most part anyway.
So the kiln was fired on Wednesday, cooled all day yesterday and was ready to unload
this afternoon. It’s always fun to open a new kiln. To see how the glazes have developed
and changed the look of each piece. Ideally, the glaze will always make the piece look better.
Yet we all know that doesn’t always happen… so here are a few samples where it did work
as planned! More pieces for the upcoming art fair season!

Mental note to self… remember that this light wood laminate studio shelving is not
the best surface for quick photos of pieces straight out of the kiln. Especially when
those pieces might be glazed in a light ash colored glaze!

Categories: nature

After weeks of rain & gloom in Chicago, it was wonderful to see the sun today!
And great fun to spend a little time in the back working on the garden
and digging out from the winter… cleaning out debris and revealing new growth.
All around the courtyard, they were little treasures to be found.

Categories: kiln firing, process, production, textures

For a very long time, on that long list of things to do…
I finally got around to making & firing some textured soda slip test tiles.
I acquired quite a few slips from my potter-friend Emily Murphy when she moved to
Minneapolis. And yet I tend to go back to the old “tried & true.” Maybe because I wasn’t
sure how all of the new slips would “react” in the soda firing atmosphere. So I made test
tiles with one of my favorite handmade rolling pins, painted on some slip and fired them
in the kiln. Of course, I also had to make little “props” to hold them vertical in the kiln.

I’m excited to have new samples of the slips – all with a good amount of flashing
to show the range of colors & effects you can get in the soda kiln.

Categories: kiln firing, process

If you recall, I had a couple little mishaps while I was firing the kiln on Saturday.
The main one was the “electrical hiatus” that shut off the entire kiln in the middle
of the firing – as well as the neighborhood all around Lillstreet. Another one was when
I peeked into the bottom peep and noticed that one of the ornaments was “missing”
from it’s tripod. But wait… there were also five points on my cone pack when there should
have been only two at that temperature?! It took me a few confused moments to figure out
that they weren’t in fact “extra cones” – it was an errant ornament tripod! Apparently…
an ornament decided to jump off the third shelf, land on the second, and leave it’s tripod
on my bottom cone pack!

For those that are wondering… the cone pack looks extra groovy and is now a good
conversation piece. And the jumping ornament survived it’s adventure!

Categories: kiln firing, pottery

I unloaded my soda kiln on Monday night and took a lot of pictures a long the way.
Too many maybe?! But I’ve gone through and picked out a few representative
samples of the pieces that were in the kiln. Overall, I was quite pleased with the firing!

If you would like to see even more pieces from this soda kiln, click here…

Categories: kiln firing, pottery, process, production

After a very hectic firing day on Saturday, it was a great relief to open
the kiln today to find out that everything turned out perfect. Good soda coverage,
good colors, good flashing. It’s a relief to have a kiln full of work done for the
upcoming art fair season… this far in advance! So I unloaded tonight and took
lots of pictures along the way… and I promise to post them very soon.
Here’s a couple shots of the full kiln just to whet your whistle. More to come…

Categories: nature, seasons

It seems as though Spring will never get here.
They’re predicting another week of gloomy, chilly & rainy days here in Chicago!
I’m ready for Spring. I’m ready for Summer. I’m ready for nature’s colors & textures!
So as a quick “remedy” I’ve posted some favorites to brighten your day.

So?… how many can you name? And which one is your favorite?

Categories: blogs

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