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

With the folks from HGTV coming over this afternoon to film me in my studio,
I knew that I had to make it presentable. Had to clean up the mess that I work in
from day to day. The wareboards with clay covered in plastic. The piles of bisque
in every corner. The overflowing garbage can. The dust & trimmings on the floor.
I had to clean up my act a bit… and make it look good for the camera!

Luckily, one of my studio neighbors has been on vacation, so her studio worked
perfectly as an “overflow” for some of my extra things while they were here. I think my
studio has never looked as nice as it did today. Thank You HGTV for making me clean!

It’s a fairly small space. Some days it feels smaller than others.
Because it’s so small, I think that I need to keep it pretty well organized too.
There’s not much space for piles of useless things. Everything is part of the process.
And it’s important that I keep the flow going.. make, bisque, glaze, fire, repeat.
Otherwise things would pile up even more. And my studio would feel even smaller!!!

So here’s a quick photo tour of my studio… while it is still clean.
After all, tomorrow is another day…

And the wonderful rolling cart my Dad made for my studio. It has removable shelves
that slide in and out on both sides of the cart. With plenty of levels for shelves at different
heights. Ideal for storing drying greenware… or waxed bisque pieces… or glazed pots for
when I roll them downstairs to the soda kiln!

Buckets of glaze on the floor… containers & buckets of slip on the shelves…
plus boxes & tubs on the top two shelves full of Summer Camp supplies!

And now… more insight into my peg-board obsession…

Plus, you know that I’m not above a little shameless self-promotion!
Hopefully, my groovy little signs made it onto some HGTV footage… free publicity?!!!

But let’s not get crazy… my wheel is still filled with trimmings! I haven’t really cleaned it
since I moved into my studio. I just empty the splash pan of the dried remains, then back
onto the wheel it goes. Why wash it? It’s only going to get dirty again!



March 20th, 2012

Did you get to play a sound track for the show?

March 20th, 2012

Sadly, no.
They were very particular. Especially with background noise from fans, traffic, phones, etc. We had to literally “re-shoot” a few times just because a bus drove by on Montrose! I was all wired up with a microphone inside my shirt… they heard everything! They even told me I rattled the rattles too much at one point?! Go figure… so I thought music would be out of the question?!

March 20th, 2012

Holy Cow! Your studio looks awesome! So incredibly organised and gorgeous!! Jealous!

March 20th, 2012

Thanks Marian. I know that sometimes I can be a little obsessive-compulsive with the organization thing… but in a small studio space like mine, I think it’s necessary. Every thing has a place. And every place has a thing!

March 20th, 2012

Congrats on the exposure! Your studio is lookin’ great!

March 20th, 2012

Thanks Jacqui – They say that there’s no such thing as bad exposure, right?! I hope that it all works out okay… and that the editors “work their magic” to make me look good. I know we filmed plenty of footage. Wide shots. Close shots. Hands. Demos. Over the shoulder. Every angle. A couple times. Hopefully they can find at least 20 seconds of good stuff in there!!!

March 20th, 2012

What an inspiration thanks!

Kathy Furda

March 20th, 2012

Nice looking studio Gary! Very well organized. Can I ask where you got the wire baskets on the peg board? I have peg board above one of my work benches with mostly hanging tools, but might benefit with a basket or two.

March 20th, 2012

HEY KATHY – The hanging baskets are actually from IKEA. They’re only a couple bucks and come in a couple different sizes & shapes. I think they are in the Kitchen section. They also come with a removable “bottom insert” that I have chosen not to use. And I use regular peg hooks to hang them on the pegboard! And yes, everyone can benefit from a basket or two!!!

Amy Higgason

March 20th, 2012

You have inspired me to do a total studio gut and clean this week. Then I’ll do a tour of my own tour. Can’t wait to break out my new label maker!

Congrats on the well deserved opportunity to showcase your skills (as a potter AND an organizer.)

March 20th, 2012

HEY AMY – Your studio is great already.
So much charm & personality. Don’t lose that.
Just highlight it with labels!!!


March 20th, 2012

Ooo…. such a nice studio! And I *love* the pegboard organization. 🙂

March 20th, 2012

BECKY – Pegboard “organization”???…
some say it’s more like a pegboard “addiction”?!
And I’m totally okay with that!!!


March 20th, 2012

I am stunned. By far the cleanest I have ever seen your studio. You definitely put your best ‘foot’ foreword. I hope HGTV noticed the compulsively rag-rolled pegboard behind those tools! I am sure they would approve.
Will there be at least one shot of your legs?
Congratulations Gary. You are proof that being open to opportunity pays off.


March 20th, 2012

…and leaving the trimmings in your pan added an air of authenticity.

March 20th, 2012

Thanks Pam. Again.
It took me awhile to deep clean it all. Prep everything. Stage the room for filming. Of course I over-thought it all and made sure that there were no “dead spots” or “crazy clutter.” I wanted every angle to look good. I even turned all of the brand name labels around to hide ’em!!! And don’t forget the “shameless self-promotion” signage I had placed in all the right places!!! So happy that Karen Patinkin has been out of town for the past few weeks… so I had a little extra “space” for some of my things!!!

As for the orange pegboard – how could they miss it?
You know I love my pegboard!!!

As for the legs… I know Meg, the host, noticed ’em.
Not sure if they’ll make it into the show?! Dare to dream Pam, dare to dream…

And again, thanks for the support & encouragement. I am frequently surprised by where my path has taken me over the years. How I have come to this place in my career… err, careers! Pottery. Teaching. Summer Camp. Glitter gig. Biking. And how a lot of my early interests have resurrected themselves. How I took a “corporate diversion” but have allowed my path to somehow create itself.

I think if everyone would just follow my motto, the world would be much better place!
If it’s not fun, don’t do it.

Donna Becker

March 20th, 2012

So … do you ever sleep? Ever?

March 20th, 2012

DONNA – Not much…
I guess my “priorities” are a little off?!

March 20th, 2012

A M A Z I N G. I want to lick your floors. I would, you know.

March 20th, 2012

Yes… I know you would. You and Lazlo!!!

Especially if I dropped some of my Mom’s homemade cookies… or spilled one of “my” extreme chocolate shakes from Barrington!!! In which case, even I would lick the floors!!!

10 second rule!!!


March 21st, 2012

UBER ORGANIZED!! wow… I need some more pegboard…

March 22nd, 2012

I think EVERYONE needs some more pegboard in their world!!!

January 9th, 2014

I have studio envy!! haha LOVE the pegboard idea! My studio is also wicked small….and crowded right now so I can definitely put that pegboard to use. Need to talk to the hubby and have him set one up for me! Thanks Gary! 🙂

And a belated congrats on the exposure!! Do you have a link to the show that aired?


January 14th, 2014

Thanks for checking in. I DO LOVE MY PEGBOARD!!!
I would recommend to for everyone. I love it.

As for my HGTV episode, here’s a link for a VERY short clip from the show.

I’m sure there may be more footage out there somewhere…
but this gives you a little snippet.


June 6th, 2016

Setting up a ceramic studio in a small space.
Considering a canvas topped wedging table vs a plain wooden topped table?? Which one is best practice.
Any ideas for storing clays under table.
Any ideas for clay tool that might be lying around the house.
What would be a suitable clay to start with for wedging and firing in the kiln as a test piece to see if the kiln is working properly.
Any ideas would need forth coming.
kind regards

June 7th, 2016

Here a few thoughts…
none of them scientific or proven, just my opinion!
1. Congrats on setting up a new studio! Very exciting.
2. I prefer canvas over wood for a wedging table. Canvas can be used for years and then replaced as needed. Wood might absorb some of the moisture and cause the grain of the wood to swell giving an uneven surface. And there’s always a chance of splinters. Painted wood is never a good option. You need the surface to be absorbent.
3. I would suggest a small platform in sturdy casters so you can roll clay in and out instead of twisting & lifting it out. Much better on your back to roll it out and then lift.
4. Everything & anything in your house can be a tool. Be creative & resourceful.
5. I would suggest starting with a clay that fires to the same temperature you’re planning on firing to. If you’re going cone 6, find a good cone 6 clay to test.
If you have any more questions, feel free to let me know. And good luck with your new studio… it’s chock full of opportunity at this point!!!

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