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

So when I was trimming a bunch of pots today, finishing them off and signing the bottoms…
I remembered how many questions I get during art fair season about my signature on the
bottoms. And yes… for the record… I do in fact sign every pot by hand. One at a time.
It never crossed my mind that many people “assume” that there is a some signature stamp
somehow involved in the process. But the answer is NO. I don’t believe in that. Never have.
I think a signature is a signature. And should be done by hand. If I had a “signature stamp”
then anyone could be “signing” pots with my name?! Interns… Apprentices… Imposters?!
I think it’s important that each piece is signed by hand… by me!

So I teach my students to sign all of their pots as well. And it’s one of my “pet peeves”
when they try to sign their pots with their sharp needle tool. I try to explain to them
that it is too pointy and will just make a scratchy signature that won’t look so good and
will have sharp edges all over the place. Instead, I suggest that they use a dull,
round-ended tool like a pencil, chopstick or ball-point pen to “displace” the clay as they
sign pots instead of painfully scraping into it with their needle tool. In my studio, I use
a ball-tipped tool for my signature. I found it, liked it… and bought a few of them!!!

So over the years, I have signed a lot of pots. And like I said, I never knew that many
people have “assumed” that I used a stamp to keep it so consistent. But it’s not a stamp.

But for those of you have known me and my pottery from the beginning…
you may recall some beginner pots that weren’t signed. My “early pots” have my first name
& year carved in with a needle tool. Yes, I did it too… a needle tool. I have since learned
better. But if you find an old pot with block lettering, we lovingly & mockingly
refer to those ones as “vintage.”

1 Comment

January 20th, 2012

Nice handwriting there Gary. Your elementary teachers should be proud!

We sign the bottoms of our pots too. It’s been evolving but I think we’ve both found something were happy with. I do want to make a SP stamp to press into the side of the foot since whether it’s by Angi or me it’s still ours.

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