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

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