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

Tonight I had the opportunity to meet & talk with installation artist David Best.
Most well known for his installation works at the annual Burning Man event,
David Best created this incredible “temple” structure for an event I attended tonight.
And yes, it is even more stunning in person. You can walk around it to marvel at the design,
as well as climb up to the second floor for more. The back side “under the stairs” was quite
intricate… as well as the beautiful chandelier hanging from the central dome! Love it!!!

So this entire structure is created out of flat sheets of pressure treated plywood.
Very detailed & intricate, the structure is a full two-story “gazebo” with fantastic
design elements. Layers upon layers of intricately cut sheets create this dramatic effect.
And a splash of theatrical lighting doesn’t hurt any either!

So we talked with David Best about this creation, but even more about his other pieces…
including his future plans for the next few years. And how he used to be a pretty “big name”
potter back in his day. Including several articles & photo spreads in Ceramics Monthly
magazine, I, of course, hinted a couple times that I would LOVE to be an assistant the next
time he’s creating one of these! He kind of laughed… but I was dead serious!!!

I’m sure you can see why, but I was just so smitten by this installation piece. So stunning.
Simply breathtaking. And not only was it this temple that took my breath away, but there
were also three hanging chandeliers. One of the chandeliers was in the central “dome” area
of the gazebo, the other two floating diagonally away from the temple.

Categories: bike, sunrise

The wet weather we’ve been having in Chicago may have taken a break today?
It seems so long since I’ve had a chance to go for my morning sunrise. I’m pretty much
a fair weather rider. And when I get up and there’s rain, or if our back courtyard is wet,
I think it’s a good escuse to get back in bed. It’s no fun to ride in the rain.

It was apparent that it had rained overnight as there were puddles along the way.
But the morning was beautiful, as there were clouds along the horizon that continued to
turn pink as the sun came up. Plus, the puddles served as a nice reflecting pond!

Categories: special events

After a busy weekend, I had another “gig” today with my special event job.
Not only do I get to play in clay all the time, but I also get to design incredible
parties on the side. And today was a fun one. A large corporate event…
with a classic, big name band for entertainment… not to mention any names…

Categories: art fair, glaze, kiln firing, process, production

So my day started out a little better today than yesterday.
Not quite as early. No kiln to unload. No rush to set things up when I got there.
Regardless… I was still a little tired after a late night of glazing & loading.

The fun continued today with more customers, more friends, more family.
And more chocolate shakes!!! Part of the “food court” area of the art fair
is this wonderful trailer from The Malt Shoppe. And over the years I have “trained”
them to make the best chocolate shakes ever! It starts with chocolate ice cream
and chocolate sauce. They mix it up into a shake, add more chocolate and mix again.
And then, just when they think it can’t get any chocolatey-er… I have them mix in
some hot fudge!!! I want the shake to be brown!. I want it to scream “chocolate”!!!
And over the years, they’ve been doing a great job… and this art fair was no exception!
Yesterday I only had one. But today I made up for lost time with three!!!
But who’s counting?!

At the end of the fair, it’s always an “adventure” to pack everything up and drive home.
Somehow even after selling a lot of pots all weekend long, it amazes me every time how
there’s not more empty space in the van?! Still packed. Still full. How does that happen?!

Yet again… after a full day at the art fair, then packing & shlepping it home…
it was back to the studio tonight for more glazing & kiln loading. There was and empty
shelf on the top of my back stack of the kiln. Plus, Corinne said that I could do another
layer or two on the front stack before she puts her sculptures in. So… despite my exhaustion,
I glazed more & loaded more. Until I couldn’t glaze no more…

Categories: kiln firing, process, production

Today was a very long day.
Not only did it start out very early unloading HOT monsters from the kiln.
And then a full day of chatting & selling pottery at the art fair. But that’s not it.
As if I had endless time, and endless energy… I also needed to go back to the
studio after the art fair to glaze and load part of another kiln! One of my fellow
studio mates is firing a kiln with her sculptural work in it on Tuesday. She offered
me some extra kiln space in her kiln… and you know how I love to fill a kiln!
Nothing pains me more than an “under-packed” kiln!!!

So I seized the moment… took on the opportunity… and pushed myself to work late
in the studio to glaze and pack the back stack of the cone 10 reduction kiln. Corinne
will be loading her work in the front of the kiln. And if all goes well, I’ll have some
new “replenishment” pieces just in time for “ART DETOUR.” Including some more
stamped bowls, tumblers and my new “line” of textured Relic Rattles!

Categories: art fair

Today was a Two-Ribbon Day!
And who doesn’t like getting a ribbon?

Ribbon #1 was to designate me as one of the Top 10 Sellers at “Art In The Barn”
last summer. Which I found out while applying for the show earlier this year.
And the best perk… you don’t need to jury in AND they give you a free double booth
as your prize!!! So I not only sold a LOT of pottery last summer at The Barn…
and the hospital got a huge donation from the 20% of my sales!

Ribbon #2 was a huge surprise! I was lucky enough to be awarded the prize for
“Best Of Ceramics 2011” at the art fair. So I got a nice white ribbon, a little special attention,
and who doesn’t like to be told they’re the best?!

Categories: art fair, Taylor

Well… today was the first day of “Art In The Barn.” And I’m exhausted.
The last few nights I’ve been frantically making monsters, painting & glazing…
let alone pricing, packing and setting up my art fair booth. But it was all worthwhile
when today’s day at the art fair… great day, great sales, great fun!

Part of the fun is being in the Barn. It’s nice to be “protected” from the elements.
Plus I had a double-booth again this year, so I have plenty of space to spread out.
Which is a nice perk, but also a lot more work. A lot more shelves to shlepp out.
A lot more pots to make, price & pack. A lot more needed to fill the double space!
And it’s always so fun to see my latest pieces all set out & ready to go!

But after all of our hard work, my parents and I finally had the space all put together…
and ready for the onslaught of customers today! The weather turned out to be great.
Just a couple raindrops, but not enough to get wet. Dark clouds, but no storms!
Which turned out to be great shopping weather for those who came out to the Barn!

Another benefit of “Art In The Barn” is that I look at it as the official kick-off of my Fall season.
Now don’t get me wrong…
I love Fall. But I also love Summer, and have a really tough time
admitting to myself that Summer may be coming to an end. The hospital folks who organize
“Art In The Barn” do such a great job decorating the place with hay bales, corn stalks,
pumpkins, gourds & mums that you can’t help but realize that it is indeed Fall.
It makes my work look pretty sweet too! I love the Fall color palette… and monsters too!

Special thanks to everyone who came out to “Art In The Barn” today. It was great to see
so many familiar faces… friends, family and loyal fans. Including my sister & her husband
who brought my niece Taylor. She loves coming to the art fairs, helping out wherever she
can, and this time, sporting a vibrant new hairstyle left-over from a “rock & roll” themed
birthday party the night before! She was surely rockin’ her new look much to the chagrin
of Mom & Dad. At the fair all day, as well as our family dinner that followed.

I had wonderful day in Barrington.
And look forward to another one tomorrow…

Categories: art fair, kiln firing, process, production, seasons

So last night, I stopped by the studio after setting up my Barrington art fair booth.
I knew that my electric kiln full of monsters would still be warm from firing
overnight. And it was still just over 800-degrees. To hot to open… but I just had to!
So I cracked it open about a 1/4-inch with a thin shard. And went home for a quick sleep!

Then this morning, I stopped in on my was out to Barrington for the start of the fair.
When I got in, the kiln was still about 200-degrees hot. Warmer than I would like…
but I didn’t really ave any choice. I had to take them out. I had to take them to the fair.
So there I was, with a thick pair of gloves, carefully unloading another hot kiln!!!
Luckily, they all turned out great… so I pulled out, tried to cool them quickly so I could
pack them out without the foam sheets melting!!! Then it was off to the fair…
with a new collection of festive monsters in tow!

And the newest member in the tribe…

Categories: kiln firing, process, production

Okay, so it was another long night in the studio.
Frantically painting underglaze… and then spraying a layer of low-fire clear
glaze on them all. Glazing the insides… and bottoms… touch-ups… clean-ups…
Finally getting them all into the kiln around 11:30pm last night. A day late…

So right now… I’m exhausted but pleased that all my monsters are safely
packed away in the kiln firing. Although it’s going to be tight…
counting the hours until they will be fired, cooled and ready to unpack!
And there just aren’t enough hours between now and then…

Categories: process, production

So tonight I plunged head-first into the underglaze!
My plan was to paint all 72 monsters, cover them in clear glaze and get them into the kiln.
Some may call that a little over-ambitious… but I thought I could do it.

Well, needless to say, it really didn’t go as planned. I got them all painted with underglaze,
but didn’t have time to glaze them. When it got to be 5:00am… I had to throw in the towel,
put the lids back on the underglaze jars and go home for a VERY short nap! So I missed by
scheduled kiln time – luckily there’s a chance I can glaze them tomorrow and get them in
the kiln tomorrow night. So it looks like the “monsters” will be done in time for this
weekend’s art fair, but not a moment sooner!