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

With their totem parts & gnomes in the kiln, may summer campers have moved on
to painting “thematic” pedestal planters. They randomly chose themes out of a hat
and did some brainstorming to figure out how they were going to portray their theme
onto their pedestal planters. The kids then set out drawing the designs…
and will soon start painting with acrylics!

Here’s an example of some of the themes they’re working with…
* The Olympics  *  The Four Seasons  *  The Z00  *  The Jungle  * Sports
* Walt Disney  * The Chicago Skyline  * Fruits  * The Future  *  A Favorite Movie  *  etc…

Categories: bike, sunrise

Another simple morning.
Quiet… clear… still… orange… simple.

Categories: classes, lillstreet

The new summer session of adult classes begins in two weeks.
I will once again be teaching my Tuesday night wheelthrowing class
for beginners & returning beginners. It’s an 8-week class starting on July 10th.
The class is already half-full, so sign up soon before you’re left out!

Stop by Lillstreet, call in or click here to register online!

Categories: lillstreet, summer camp

This week it’s all about the garden.. my campers are making projects for their gardens!
And when all of the kids live in the city, the term “garden” might be a loose interpretation.
We had a discussion about what our week’s projects might be… and whether they might be
interested in making a individual projects or one large project that they would collaborate on
and leave behind at Lillstreet Art Center. After some discussion, we came up with a plan to
do a totem pole installation. Each of the kids were responsible for making their own section
of the totem, decorated in whatever style they wanted.

Much to my dismay, many of them asked if they could also make garden gnomes!
So we did a little handbuilding and made a troop of gnomes. They turned out to be a little
thicker & heavier than I would like, but I’m hoping that they all survive the firing. It was a
quick project and they haven’t had much experience with sculptural pieces. And they idea
of keeping all of the pieces hollow was a bit tough, but I think we succeeded… and added
small holes in all the right places so they trapped air can escape!

After some quality “gnome time,” we switched back to the totem pole pieces and started
painting them with underglazes. New this year, Lillstreet has added underglazes with glaze
already in them. Before, we painted with underglaze and then covered everything with a
clear glaze. This year, it’s all-in-one. The colors are pretty rich, but it is a new twist for me
and the returning campers who are used to the previous method.

Once the totem parts were painted, we moved back to the gnomes. A splash of color really
brought them to life. I was a little leery about making gnomes… but they’re pretty darn cute!

At the end of the day, much to everyone’s dismay… my kids are also very good cleaners!
So many of the adult students at Lillstreet blame all of the mess on the kids. But seriously,
my campers always do such a great job of cleaning… better than most of the adults!!!
They know it’s my Rule #3… Whatever mess you make, YOU will be cleaning up!
And they do. Like today when they some water was spilled on the floor…

There they were on their hands & knees scrubbing & cleaning. They also cleaned all of the
tables as well as taking the garbage out to the dumpster. Yes parents, they CAN do it…
and you can thank me later!

Categories: bike, special events

Two months from today… The Chicago Triathlon.
I’m good with the biking. Guess it’s time to start running & swimming again?!

Categories: bike, sunrise

The lakefront was very loud this morning… with cool winds coming in off the lake and waves
crashing all around. So much fun watching the sun sparkling off the crashing waves…
and trying to capture the “splash” at just the right moment.

Categories: bike, vacation

GRABAAWR – Richland Center to Prairie du Chien

The last day of any long bike ride is always bittersweet. It’s kind of exciting to finish
the journey. But sad that you have come to the end of your journey. That the fun & excitement
has come to an end. That your vacation is over and tomorrow it’s back to reality.

So it’s always important to cherish the final day… and the final miles. And today we set off
again with some cloudy skies as we cross the Wisconsin River… one more time.

Enjoying the moment with my friend Chris (right) and our Wisconsin biking friend Sue (center).
Gotta love the arm up, hold the camera and shoot your own self-portraits!

So we headed out early, knowing that we would still have a long drive home ahead of us
at the end of the ride. But never too early for more pie.. this time from the ladies at
St. John’s Church. Great food. Great ladies. Raising money for a great cause.

The day was fairly overcast, with fewer scenic stops along the way. Unless you consider
a large state penetentiary as a scenic stop?… keep pedaling, keep pedaling. But I did love
some of the “lawn art” we saw today… including this “wonderful & patriotic” angel?!

Plus, many of you might be aware of my strange fascination with roadkill. Ive spared you
the gruesome photos… just know that I do stop & take pictures of of them along the way!
Throughout the week there have been so many to see. Deer, raccoons, opossum, turtles,
birds & more. But it seemed so oddly fitting that the “final” roadkill of the week would be
one of the orange Bike Wisconsin flags that had fallen off one of the SAG trucks!

And there it is… Another wonderful week on my bike! Just over 500 miles of fun!!!
Pedaling across the state along the Wisconsin River with my friend Chris.
We both had a wonderful time seeing the scenery, smelling the Northwoods and sharing
this wonderful experience together. I’ve always said that biking is the best way to travel.
You get to see things, smell things an feel things along the way that you would never get
to see if you’re zooming by inside a car. So many great chances to enjoy the beauties of nature.


Categories: bike, vacation

GRABAAWR – Baraboo to Richland Center

Today was another beautifully sunny day. We were ready for another wonderful day.
And started off a little earlier than normal for a little longer mileage today. But even though
we may have started earlier, it’s never too early to take a break and cool off with your feet
in the water! If there’s a pier… we’re always ready to stop… I’ve always said that
“the best part about biking, is stopping.” And if you don’t take time to stop and enjoy your
surroundings, you’re going to miss a lot of life passing you by.

Today’s route was wonderful. And took us through one of my favorite Wisconsin State Parks.
There was an option for the riders to go around the park on the easier route, over through the
park up & over the bluffs on the more difficult route. Of course we chose the more beautiful
and more difficult hills route. And it was well worth the extra effort. After the one big hill climb
up the bluffs on the west side of the park, it was a beautiful downhill ride pretty much through
the rest of the park. Of course we did have to stop long the way… there was another pier!
And it overlooked the bluffs we had just ridden up & over.

Shortly after exiting Devil’s Lake State Park (with one of the best downhill coasting rides ever)
we found ourselves waiting for the Merrimac Ferry. And since we were waiting, it seemed like
the perfect time for a huge ice cream waffle cone!

On the other side of the river, it was back to farmlands and beautiful skies!

And although the pictures don’t really show it… it was pretty windy today.
And of course, we were riding straight into the wind! Figures, huh?! So it was very hot,
and very windy, and we were working extra hard on a long mileage day. There were plenty
of times when I looked back and found Chris tucked in and drafting behind me. So we made
frequent stops for more Gatorade, a quick run through some sprinklers and even some pie!
As we rolled through Spring Green, we stopped at a couple art galleries, a few little shops and
saw this sign that quickly pulled us in… for some Bumbleberry Pie ala mode!

Along the way there were other great things to find. Like some rusty art… and you know how
I love me some good rust! And an unusual wood plank with a smile on it that we now know is
somehow attached to a horse’s hoof so they can walk through snow & slush better. Kinda like
snowshoes for horses. Which was interesting, because my friend Amy gave me one of these
(sans metal hooks) last year for Christmas and we had no idea what it was used for…
she just thought it was great because it had a face on it?! Now we know…

The day started to get really long as the miles started taking their toll. It was hot.
We were tired. But never too tired to stop and see some cute donkeys on a farm on the side
of the road. The ride in was spotted with very picturesque farms on incredible rolling hills.
It was incredibly beautiful to ride through in late afternoon as the sun was lowering
and casting some great light across the fields.

Hill after hill, we started to wonder if we would ever make it to the camp school.
I think this was our longest and toughest day of the week. It may not have been the longest
mileage, but it just felt really longer. Okay, so we did stop quite a few times. And the wind
was a tough element to be faced with. But we just kept plugging along…
and finally made it in. Exhausted. But happy.


Categories: bike, GeoCache, vacation

GRABAAWR – Adams-Friendship to Baraboo

Sun shining and ready to roll…

By now we are well out of the scenic wooded Northwoods. And getting more into the flatter,
more agricultural parts of the state. The sky was clear, and another beautiful day on my bike!

As the miles continued before us, it looked something like this… with such promise!
There’s nothing better than the feeling of freedom on the open road.

After a quick stop in Lyndon Station for lunch, we decided to take a moment to see if
there were any GeoCache treasures to be found. A luckily, just a couple blocks away
was one in the town’s Memorial Park. Just another hidden scroll to be signed…

Did I mention lunch?… we stopped at a little diner in town for lunch. Where I had possibly
the best pancakes ever! They were huge, I was starving and they had fresh blueberries
in one and fresh raspberries in the other! Yummy!!!

Further down the road, we pedaled through the Wisconsin Dells – which brought back some
childhood memories. We used to vacation there a lot and it was great to be back… even if
it was just to pedal through it quickly. But not too quick… Chris and I stopped in one of the
“tacky” gift shops looking for Mexican Jumping Beans and my favorite barometer dodo bird.
Sadly, we left empty handed. But had fun sharing our memories with each other.

Towards the end of the route, we passed the International Crane Foundation. I have seen
the signs on the highway for years and have always wanted to stop. Today was the day.
It’s a very nice wildlife park where they have collected some of all of the crane species from
around the world. It seemed very educational – including an area where they have workers
in actual crane costumes helping the crane chicks learn how to survive on their own.

And it wasn’t just cranes… there were a few others hanging out with the whooping cranes!

Plus some wonderful metal sculptures – each showing a different stage of cranes in flight.
And some beautiful yellow cactus that are apparently somehow indigenous to Wisconsin…
that Chris now wants to add to her own landscaping at home.

At the end of the day, we were in Baraboo. A beautiful evening with a beautiful sunset.
And a very welcome surprise… “My Friend Julie” decide to stop by. We met Julie a few
years ago as one of the SAG Staff for the ride. She and her husband Jim have been part
of the Bike Wisconsin rides for years. However this time she had to work for the week.
Tonight she stopped by to see her husband… and ME!!! A great ending to another great day!

Categories: bike, vacation

GRABAAWR – Stevens Point to Adams-Friendship

Day after day, we continue pedaling. By Day Four, your body has gotten used to it
and you just keep going. I find myself almost “forgetting” that I’m pedaling and not
worrying about how far we need to pedal. It becomes more about the journey, the
destination, and the fun.

We stopped of along the way to check out one of those functioning “homestead” places.
Sadly, the place was there – but no functioning! No blacksmith. No cobbler. No people.
The buildings were great – and I especially loved the wonderful wood on the buildings.

Across the street was another find – a local deer farm run by the Dept. of Natural Resources.
Sadly, they weren’t open and we couldn’t get in there. We were striking out. Two for two!
At least the scenery was still beautiful…

There are so many paper mills around in the Wisconsin area, and we went past a lot of them!
This one had a pile of logs waiting on the side of the road waiting to be debarked, dried and
ground into pulp. But of course, we just had to stop and play… again. And the incredible smell
of fresh-cut pine was everywhere.

Along the route there is a lot of wildlife. Sometimes you just need to look in the right places.
Like here on top of some powerlines where an osprey has built its nest.

The ride into town was beautiful, and dinner was pretty tasty in a local park.
But when we got back to the school, and back to our tents, there was a lot of talk of another
huge storm brewing and coming our way! About an hour later, the clouds rolled in
and were quite dramatic! After the storms we have already had, we were ready to
hunker down and hope once again that our tents were water-proof!

Luckily, the clouds blew over with just a little drizzle.