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

Let the pictures tell the story…

Categories: art fair, pottery, production, special events

Summer Camp is over… the Chicago Triathlon is over…
and now I’m back in the studio getting ready for my Fall shows!
Making more work to fill two upcoming kiln firings. Gotta make more for…

Art In The Barn – September 24th & 25th in Barrington, Illinois
Art Detour – October 7th, 8th & 9th in Lake Tomahawk, Wisconsin.

So now I’m making new items with that special Northwoods influence…
exclusively for the folks on the Art Detoura teaser of things to come…

Categories: bike, sunrise

A stunning sunrise. Vibrant colors. Dramatic clouds. Spectacular.
So much so… that I got a little carried away taking almost a hundred pictures!
Then I was running late this morning… at least my priorities are in the RIGHT place!!!

Categories: bike, Chicago, special events
Categories: Chicago, special events

Well, I survived… which was my primary goal.
And had a great time doing it, which was an added bonus!

The whole point of my triathlon experience was to prove to myself that I could do it
and finish confidently. To not be in pain. To not be injured. To not die out there.
I wanted to cross the finish line with the feeling of success. Proud of my accomplishment.
And I did. But it was a long journey getting there.

Sure I could have started to swim a little sooner… sure I could have taken swim lessons.
Sure I should have run more practice miles… run further, smoother, quicker.
Sure I could have done a lot of things. But I did what I could. And I was ready to go.

Days Prior.
In the days leading up to the Triathlon, I was trying to get in as much training as possible.
Swimming in the lake as part of my morning sunrise bike ride. Jogging whenever I could
find the time. But at some point, you need to stop and rest before the big day.

I really started to get excited when I went for the the official check-in, packet pick-up,
body marking and Tri Expo. And then, it was also great to meet up with one of my old
college roommates Ken… who was up for the Tri from Florida. And even more fun to meet
up with one of my fraternity Little Sisters Pammy who was also up to do the Triathlon…
even if she only did the Sprint version!!! So the Chicago Triathlon was quickly becoming
a fun social event, as well as the physical challenge! It started becoming fun!

Early Morning.
My triathlon morning started very early. Leaving the house at 3:45am in complete darkness
with all of my gear. Ready to get check-in to the transition area and get my bike & gear all
set up and ready for the race. With advice from several friends, I tried to set up my transition
area for the day. Including my bright green striped beach towel which I draped over my bike
as a great visual clue to find my bike in the transition area amongst the thousands of bikes
that fill the transition area. Planning ahead to “find” my bike after the big swim!!!

After setting up my transition space, it was then time to wait for my wave start time.
Which gave me over two hours to wait. Luckily, there was a beautiful sunrise to watch.

Pre-Swim Nerves.
Sitting & waiting by the side of the lake. Watching hundreds of other people getting into
the lake and starting their swim. I was a little concerned with how choppy the waves were.
Definitely the roughest waves that I’ve ever tried to swim in… and here’s me with my already
questionable swimming abilities. It didn’t help any to see people clinging to the sides of the
lifeguard boats… or even worse, literally being pulled out of the water and into the boats
within the first 100-yards  of starting. DONE… so soon, because the waves were too strong!
Luckily, there were lifeguards everywhere!!! Just in case…

First up, my friend Pam was getting ready for her swim. Her Sprint wave was almost an hour
before mine. So she got to “wiggle” into her wetsuit before I had to… which she was dreading!
And she’s going to kill me for showing these photos… but she was just too cute!

Then it was time for me to get ready for my swim… put on my wetsuit, which let me just say…
is not the most flattering of things to wear!!! Tight in all the wrong places.  Yikes!

Sadly… I packed my camera away for the swim… so the photos are far fewer from this point.
I hope to add more as I get some from friends or the official Tri Photographers!
Like these from my friend Claire, who was there watching for her boyfriend Dave….

The 1-Mile Swim.
So finally it was my turn. As my wave got closer & closer, the nerves got higher & higher.
And yet there was an odd sort of calmness… knowing it is what it is. I had done as much as I
could at that point. So I put on my goggles & purple swim cap, jumped in and started my
swim. Slowly. Not let me just point out, that I’ve only been swimming for about three weeks.
And if I had more time, I definitely should have taken some swim lessons. But I didn’t.
Instead, I spent my morning swims “perfecting” the side-stroke. So yes, there I was
surrounded by people who knew how to swim… and I did the side-stroke the ENTIRE way!!!
So crowded much of the time that other people were literally swimming over me, pushing
me out of the way, knocking, kicking & punching… sounds like fun, huh?! Part of the day.
And no one told me about the seaweed I would have to swim through… didn’t plan on that!

And there goes my wave (below) with purple swim caps… and hundreds of orange Gatorade
bags full of things people wanted to keep safe during their swim! Luckily, my parents were
there to cheer me on… take a few pictures… and hold my bag!

So after the swim, you climb out of the lake with assistance, then run to the Transition Area
to change and get on your bike. Not a fun run from lake to hillside in bare feet, trying not to
step on anything sharp… and further than you’d like to run, especially after swimming a mile!

The 25-Mile Bike.
Finally… a section of the race that I feel comfortable with. I was expecting this to be the
“easy” part. I never planned on today being the windiest day of the past month!!! And as luck
would have it, the first part of the ride north on Lake Shore Drive was straight into the wind!!!
Killer headwinds! It was tough getting up to speed, with the wind and surrounded by other
riders on a crowded Lake Shore Drive. Some passing on the right (which is opposite from
bike rides)
and keeping a cautious eye in the huge grooves & potholes in the road. Luckily,
when I finally got to the north turn-around, it was a nice tailwind all the way back. But then,
as part of the International Distance Triathlon, you need to do the loop twice!!!
So it was back into the wind for me!!!

The 6.5-Mile Run.
So I made it back to the transition area and switched my shoes. My transition times were by
no means fast. I was more concerned about getting everything done, grabbing a quick snack,
drinking some water and prepping for the next leg. So when I finally started running, I was
feeling pretty good. Okay, well maybe after the first 1/2-mile. It was a weird feeling getting off
the bike and switching to running right away. Like my legs weren’t quite going in the right
But finally things started moving correctly, and I was off on my run. Again, I am
by no means fast! I’ve only been running for a month or two. Slow & steady… I was going well
until I felt a sharp pain in my left knee as we started going up a hill just after Shedd Aquarium.
So I opted for safety and self-preservation and walked up that hill. I also walked once when I
couldn’t get my “snack” out of my running belt. I was fidgeting & running, couldn’t do it.
So I had to stop for a quick snack, then it was back to the jog. Slow & steady… down past
McCormick Place and back up to Grant Park.

The Finish Line.
So as you turn left around the Field Museum, and head under the Lake Shore Drive bridge
into Grant Park, it was great to see the crowds of spectators, balloons and just a hint of the
Finish Line!!! Funny how you get a sudden burst of energy as soon as you know it’s almost
over?! Almost there... I saw Claire & Dave on the sidelines, then I ran through the Finish Line
triumphantly!!! Heard my name announced as I crossed, got my medal, more Gatorade…
and a wet towel. As I “walked it off”… I found my proud parents waiting for me by the finish
corral. After the race, we hung out for awhile… then I got to see my friend Pam again for
awhile. Then it was it was back to the transition area to claim my bike & my belongings.
To call it a day. Done.

The Rewards.
So now I have proved to myself that I can do it. Which was my entire point to this adventure.
It wasn’t about racing. It wasn’t about my time. I just wanted to finish confidently. And I did.
Even when I got to the finish, I still felt like I could have gone further. Not that I wanted to…
but I think I could have swam further, biked further and run further! It was a great feeling
to realize that I had achieved my goals. Trained appropriately. Did the work. And made it.

And, oh, but wait there’s more…
not only did I finish well, but then I felt like I had a “free pass” to eat anything & everything!!!
So my parents and I went to my favorite restaurant “Rose Angeli’s” for dinner. And had an
incredible special concoction of portobello mushroom raviolis, dark cherries, almonds,
more portobello mushrooms and a wonderful cream sauce!!! Yum… not to mention the huge
plate of bread pudding & hot caramel sauce… or the caramel sauce soaked pound cake!!!
Thank you again Catherine…

Categories: bike, sunrise

A quiet morning, with a beautiful wisp of golden cloud across the sky!

Categories: pottery, process, production, studio

Well, tonight was the night to add handles to all of my stamped cylinders.
So I started by wedging my clay, and cutting it into smaller pieces and throwing them
down onto my table to create “carrot shaped” pieces.

I then pull traditional handles using water & friction. When the handles is like a good
clay strap width & thickness, the curve them over, stick ’em to themselves and stand
them up so they can dry up a bit. I like how the curved pieces already sets the curve
I will need when they’re attached to the cylinder. And you want to wait until they are
still flexible, but no longer wet or squishy.

Then the attaching begins. There’s a lot of scoring & slipping as I cut out the portion
of the handle that appropriately fits on the cylinder. Score, slip, attach… repeat… repeat…

And then, several hours later, and a LOT of scoring & slipping… the mugs are done!
Well, except for some colored slip accents, drying, firing, glazing, firing, etc…

Categories: bike, sunrise

Another beautiful morning of clear skies… and a chill in the air.
It may still be Summer, but the mornings have definitely had a Fall feeling to them.

Categories: stamps, textures

Tonight I stamped the plate I made for my class demo the other night.
Sure, you could leave the flange plain & unadorned… but what fun would that be?!!!

Categories: lillstreet, summer camp

So the kids put in the work… the creativity… the fun…
They worked right up until the Friday end of camp. Painting underglaze colors.
So when the kids were gone, and camp was over, we sprayed all of their chess pieces
with a low-fire clear glaze. And then fired them to cone 06. All of the pieces just came
out of the kiln… all mixed up! So Brian and I worked today to separate them back
into their thematic sets… and pack them up for the kids top come back to pick them up!
And then… let the games begin!!! Chess games that is…