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

This morning it was absolutely clear. Not a single cloud in the sky.
And the winds were chillier than expected. More layers than normal.
But still worth it, as the sunrise was incredibly vibrant & clean this morning!

Categories: bike, nature

Like I’ve said many times before… “one of the best parts about biking is stopping.”
If you don’t stop some times to enjoy your surroundings, you’ll miss great experiences
like this. Fun at the alpaca farm! The kids were out in their front yard with free water
and fig bars. Which was all fine & good. But I was more intrigued by the alpacas
behind them. So we started talking with the Mom & kids… and they finally invited us
to go back and see the alpacas. They explained everything you ever needed to know
about their alpacas! We even got to pet them & feed them. But you gotta stop to play!

A fairly simple barn. Nothing too exciting… until you see the alpacas in back!
They were busy grazing & relaxing. Until the owner clapped her hands and they came over
to greet us. Hoping to be fed I believe. So we did… Could they BE any cuter?!

For more alpaca information… and an opportunity to buy them all AND the farm…
check out the website for Abounding Acres.

Categories: bike

So the Hilly Hundred is my favorite bike ride of the year… every year!
It’s a hundred miles of hills all around Brown County in Southern Indiana.
The weather is generally perfect for the weekend, and this one was no exception!

After doing rides like this for so many years, we’re “perfected” our riding style.
Many people like to pedal hard and fly through the route. We on the other hand
prefer to take our time and really see the route. Stop. Enjoy. Take pictures. Relax.
Sure there’s a hundred miles. Sure there’s thousands of feet going up. Whatever!

We’ve often joked that “the best part of biking is stopping.”
Because there’s always good snacks to have… and you feel like you “deserve it”
because you’ve already worked up the appetite & worked off the calories!
And the first rest stop of the ride on Saturday was no disappointment…

But then you get back on your bike and pedal some more.
Rolling through the countryside. Cruising through the Morgan-Monroe State Park.
Stopping at every little kid’s lemonade stand. Loving the scenery. Loving the colors.
And every once in awhile, you roll past “the perfect barn” like this… and stop again for photos!

And looking forward to the next rest stop… good food, live music… and hundreds of bikers!
With lines for food… lines for water… lines for apple cider… lines for portas… you know…

So it’s two days of fun riding through the countryside. Fifty miles on Saturday, 50 miles
on Sunday. What better way to spend a beautiful fall weekend, pedaling with my friend Chris.

But then there’s these moments… when the universe aligns and I find a bit of humor!
Like the irony of a well-placed “SLOW” sign at the top of a hill – too steep for many riders
who ended up walking up the hill and past the sign. Mocking them along the way!

Another funny moment every year is when we roll downhill into the town of Stinesville
of the last rest stop of the tour. The downhill is steep enough, with tight turns, that some riders
lose control of their bikes. And the residents have decided to build a buffer of hale bales.

Looked like a Kodak Moment to us! We’ve ridden past the hale bales for years… and finally
decided that it was time to stop and “play” for a few minutes. Pretending that Chris lost control.

By the end of Sunday afternoon, we’ve covered over 100 mils of hills, with close to 9,000 feet
of vertical elevation gain. That’s a lot of hills! Some are fun. Some are rolling. Some are killers!
And still… to this day, there’s one that is my nemesis!

It’s the shortest & steepest hill on the tour. It starts out at about a 20% grade. Then half way
up, it increases to about 24%. So by that time you’re already struggling and moving very
slowly. People walking up the hill on the right, bikers passing on the left, toes clipped into
the pedals… and an occasional car that decides to drove down the hill as hundreds of bikers
are struggling up. And if that weren’t enough, when you think you’ve made it to the top,
the road makes a very tight 90-degree turn to the right – and continues to go up! Try doing
that with no momentum and no energy! Being a larger guy, I find myself struggling to get
up, standing in my pedals, pumping so hard that my front tire starts lifting off the ground!
And that right had turn at the top… impossible. No momentum… no possibility!! My nemesis…

Okay, so I realize that I have some pretty big leg muscles. Larger calves than most. Defined.
But I always thought most guys who bike had calves?! Never knew mine were anything
special. But for some reason, I seem to get comments about my calves while I’m riding?!
Overheard on The Hilly ride… as I was pedaling along and some guy passed on my left…
“Man, you’ve got some pistons there, dude.”

Categories: bike, sunset

Well, the cable guy FINALLY came by and fixed my cable!
So I got a little bit of a late start headed off to The Hilly Hundred today.
My friend Chris was about an hour ahead of me… so I was anxious to make it
down there to check-in, set up our sleeping space, shop the Expo Tent and relax!

The ride was pretty uneventful through northern Indiana. Then in the center of
the state there’s great windmill farm… with a nice Dairy Queen in the middle!
As I got closer to Indianapolis, the storm clouds started to build. And by the time
I was getting off the beltway, and heading south on Route 37… the storm was brewing!

Luckily, the storm stayed in the Indianapolis area… and as I drove further south,
the storm seemed to dissipate and was replaced by beautiful clouds! A great sign
of the beautiful weather to come for the weekend bike ride!

Categories: art fair, artists

A couple days after I got home, I had a chance to finally check in on Facebook…
only to find this wonderful & insightful posting from our friend Pam.
I’ve known Pam, and her husband Pat, for a couple years now. Pam has been in
my pottery class, and has become friends with Amy while in the Northwoods.
So Amy & I have had plenty of time to hang out with Pam… but I think this was
the first time that Pam has actually watched a group of artists go through the
“glamorous” part of packing up after a long art fair weekend. So many people
think that these art fairs just kind of happen by themselves, and that it’s all
fun & games for the artists. Let me just say that it’s not.

Well… here’s Pam’s comment she posted on Facebook!
Thank you Pam for noticing all we go through, and taking time to share your insights…

Last weekend Pat and I had the good fortune to spend time with a few very talented
artists at ART DETOUR hosted by Pigeon Road Pottery in Northern Wisconsin. As well
as fun, good conversation, lots of laughter, and gourmet s’mores we were able to witness
just how much goes in to participating in an art fair. Countless hours of perfecting the art,
buying and making displays to exhibit the art, finding the perfect containers to transport
the art, hours of set up every day, hours of tending to the customers and manning the booth followed by hours of re-packing all the pieces and fitting them back into the car/truck/van with all the display shelves/cases/tables and the now dismantled tent only to return home to attend to tons of paperwork, returning customer emails, collating your customer mailing lists, inventorying what you have left, planning what you need to make for the next art fair…
Next time you pick up a handmade bowl, necklace, watercolor painting, etc and look at the price please consider all that went on behind the scenes for YEARS before it was created and you saw it. It is an amazing amount of dedication these artists have to beautify your world and feed your soul. Be honored to be able to take a piece of that home with you.


Thank you Pam!!!

Categories: bike, sunrise

Another beautiful morning. A few more clouds. A little more drama.
Another stunning morning and another beautiful bike ride along the lake.
Fall is definitely here… and the clothing layers are definitely adding up…
sleeves, jackets, gloves, tights, caps, etc… sadly, Summer is officially over!!!

Categories: bike, sunrise

After a beautiful weekend in the Wisconsin Northwoods,
it was great to have Fall happening all over again here in Chicago!
So many of the colored leaves literally blew away while we were at the Detour.
The tree were full when I got there, but pretty naked when I left.
We still have leaves here in Chicago… but not for long…

A beautiful morning to start my “special” day!

Categories: sunrise

So it’s my last day up in the Northwoods.
Sarah and I stayed over one last night so we could drive home during the day.
So it was another night in our incredible condo-cabin… and another sunrise…

And wouldn’t you love to be sittin’ on the dock right about now?

Categories: art fair, artists

Since it was the last day of the tour, I felt that Sarah had to take a spare moment to
enjoy the surroundings. So we went for a VERY short hike on our way back to Amy’s place.
So we stopped off along the McNaughton Trail for a little snippet of nature.

When we finally got to Amy’s place on Pigeon Road, it was a little bittersweet knowing that
today was going to be the last day of fun! We all set up, got the fire started and prepared for
the customers. Sundays are generally a slower day. And it was again. But it felt good.
It gave us all a little more time to hang out and chat. Once again, my friends Pam & Pat
were there for a large portion of the day… helping, chatting and serving lunch!

While we were sitting and playing around the campfire, I learned a new trick. Pam showed
me how to make marshmallow taffy! Apparently if you just keep squishing the marshmallow
with your fingertips, it eventually loses its puffed air… and becomes taffy like!!!

Once the day had ended, it was time to pack up. But first, we had to have some fun
with the signs that had drawn so many people into the ART DETOUR. The signs were
spread out along the highway in the traditional Bermashave style. But the show was over,
and the signs had to come down. And we had to have a quick photo shoot!

But then it was time to get back to work. The glamorous part of packing it all.
Putting all of my pots back into the crate. Breaking down my shelving units. Taking down
my tent. Being careful & working methodically to get everything taken care of. It always
takes longer than you expect. And as night was drawing near, and the sky was getting
darker & darker… we were still packing. And trying to get everything packed back into my car.
Every thing has a place. And every place has a thing. And a HUGE thank you to Pat
for helping me fit everything back into my car… including my tent which came up North
on the top of my car! Now it fits inside… thank you Pat!!!

Once everyone was packed up, and the sky had turned dark, we all finally had a chance
to hang out around the fire, enjoy a bunch of leftovers for dinner and relax. And share stories
of our experience in the Northwoods. The good. The bad. The crazy. And a little ceremonial
“closure” to the inaugural ART DETOUR…

Categories: art fair, artists, friends

Okay, so the s’mores may have gotten the best of us?!
But if you’re going to do something, be sure you do it in a big way!
So Amy came up with the brilliant marketing plan to hype our sugary addiction.
And after a little friendly “name-calling”… we were all S’morons!with groovy t-shirts!

Amy was truly getting into the spirit of things… and was “bedazzled” with buttons & necklaces
galore! As part of our clandestine marketing campaign, we thought it would be fun for “our”
Art Detour customers to wear ART DETOUR buttons as they went around on the “other” Tour.
We had ART DETOUR buttons, as well as S’MORON buttons for anyone who made a s’more!
Plus, Amy & Wendi had each had buttons printed to promote their own “brand.” And if that
weren’t enough, Amy was also excited to show off her new collection of necklaces made by
Sarah, Wendi and myself (top to bottom).

But a shirt is just a shirt, and a button is just a button.
And with the addition of some hi-octane sugar, you can see where the real fun began!
Caught in mid-air, and Amy’s going to kill me for this, but I LOVED the reaction that came
after I caught her trying to get the first mouthful of her breakfast s’more! Simply adorable!!!

Plus, we couldn’t keep all of the s’moron fun to ourselves, so we also raffled off a t-shirt
for our customers. And there was enough interest by people who wanted their own t-shirt
that Amy actually started taking orders for t-shirt reprints!