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

It’s been awhile, but tonight I finally loaded another electric bisque kiln. It’s been a busy
summer and I’m now faced with the reality that summer is almost over… and we’re zooming
towards the Fall art fair season! And I need to replenish the inventory. Quick.

Kiln Layer #1 – Mugs… and only mugs!

Kiln Layer #2 – Mugs, ovals, soap dispensers and piles of tiles. The dispensers are
upside-down because they’re still a little wet and I wanted the air to get around them.

Kiln Layer #3 – Some new bowls, votive holders and more tiles!!!

Kiln Layer #4 – Plates, platters and a LOT more tiles!!!
Plus one little test tile painting by my studio neighbor Lisa Harris.

Kiln Layer #5 -Some more new bowls, votive holders and… oops, ran out of tiles to fill!!!

And you know how I love a well-loaded kiln?!…
Well, this one is filled to the brim. Not much space left at the top. I actually held my breath
for a second as I closed the kiln lid and hoped NOT to hear any smashing!

Categories: bike, nature, photography, sunrise

Sometimes the sunrise is a little underwhelming. Like today.
Just kinda plain. Kinda hazy. Kinda boring. But if you wait a few minutes…
and add an organic silhouette, then you got something there and it makes all the difference!


Categories: mugs, process, production, stamps

You know I love making mugs.
In fact, if I could only make one form for the rest of my ceramics career,
I’m pretty sure it would be mugs!!! So today was a pretty good day…

Categories: bike, sunrise

With one large cloud hanging on the horizon, the morning sky was one large orange stripe!
Nothing much besides that… one orange stripe.

And then the sun finally broke through… and we got a sudden burst of sunshine!!!

Categories: classes, lillstreet

Hard to believe that Summer is coming to an end soon, but…
Tonight was the last wheelthrowing class of our Summer Session at Lillstreet
Art Center. So we celebrated with a great potluck with tons of great treats!
We now have one week off… and then the Fall Session starts up again on
September 11th. So sign up today – as my class is filling up fast!

Click here to register online with the Lillstreet website!

Categories: process, production, stamps, textures

With just enough time before teaching my class tonight,
I added some colored slip details to these newly assembled & stamped oval vases.

Categories: studio

With my Triathlon completed, it’s time to re-focus on my next big project.
I’ve got just two weeks until my next full soda kiln. And I’ve got a LOT of work
to do before then. Enough swimming, biking & running… time to get back
to some throwing, stamping & glazing!!!

Categories: process, production, stamps

It was a productive evening in the studio. A lot of stamping & piercing…
and now they just need some colored slip accents before they start to dry!

Votive candle holders… and a few more mugs waiting for their handles!

Categories: bike, Chicago, friends, special events

After months of training & preparing, it was finally Triathlon day in Chicago!
The day starts early as the bike transition are opens at 4:45am and closes at 5:45am.
So thousands of racers all need to get their bikes & gear in place before it closes.
Once closed, it’s time to wait for your assigned Wave time. Mine was 8:54am…
so we had to wait about three hours to get started!!! Luckily, my friend Pammy was
coincidentally in the same wave, and Chris just before ours. So we could all hang out
watch everyone else, and wait together!

The sunrise was beautiful as it came up over the lake. Beautiful shades of pinks & reds.
Although we all know that famous slogan, “Red skies in morning, sailors take warning.”
So the red sky was just a warning of things to come… and they did.

So serene. So beautiful. Even with that one lone lifeguard boat preparing for the fun.

And then the first Wave went off… as there were more lifeguard boats at the ready and
the first swimmers started passing by. And once it starts, the anxiety level increases
as it’s now “real” and you know that your Wave is coming soon. No stopping it now.

As our Wave got closer, it was finally time to squeeze into our wetsuits and don our pink
swim caps. Each Wave of the Triathlon is assigned a different group color…
last year purple, this year pink. Pammy and I were ready… excited to get started…

Okay, and maybe just a little scared too…

As the clock continues to tick down, we’re just two minutes from starting.

So you finally get into the water and tread water until the air horn signals the start.

And we’re off…

The swim starts in Monroe Harbor across from Buckingham Fountain. You swim
south to the Field Museum, turn around at the orange pyramid cone, and then
all the way back north to the swim exit a mile later!

Once I finally made it out of the water, there’s a HUGE sigh of relief. That is
definitely my worst leg of the race. Not a big swimmer. In fact, I did the entire
thing once again doing the side stroke!! Crazy, I know… but it works for me.

Then it’s on to the bike transition where you change clothes, put on your bike shoes
and head out on your bike. It’s two laps along Lake Shore Drive totaling 25 miles.
The first lap was pretty nice. But when I turned around to start my second lap, you
could definitely see the storm rolling in. The wind was picking up an there were large
gray clouds to the west. On my last stretch south, the rain started with a light drizzle.
I was happy that I had completed the bike portion before the rain really kicked in…
and that my average speed on the bike was over 20 miles per hour!

Sorry for the lack of pictures here… but my Dad was also the photographer, and he
was back by the swim & run section. So I don’t have any photos from the bike or run.
You’ll have to take my word on it… tee-hee.

Then it’s back to the bike transition one more time to ditch your bike, change clothes
& shoes as needed, and then it’s off for a 6.5 mile run through Grant Park. You head
south along the lake past the Museum Campus and Soldier Field, then turn around
down my the 31st Street Beach. The whole time it was raining. At first, it was a
refreshing drizzle. But at times it picked up a bit – but by that time I was already wet
from the rain & sweat, so I didn’t care much.

By the time I made it to the Finish Line, it was really coming down.
And there stood my parents in the pouring rain cheering me on! Yeah me…
to have such a great cheering section!
So excited to come across that line.
Excited to have finished my second Triathlon! Relieved that all of the hard work
& practice paid off. Endorphins, Adrenaline. Sweat. Gotta love the combination!

Soaked through & through… but still celebrating with my friends Pammy & Chris.
And enjoying the fact that I shaved 13 minutes & 40 seconds off last year’s time!!!

Back home, it felt great to take a shower, wash off the grime and eventually be dry again!
Some stiff muscles, but nothing too sore. And a nice new Triathlon medal to show for it.

And the big reward at the end?… a celebratory dinner at my favorite Rose Angeli’s
with my parents, Pammy and her husband. A wonderful end to our wonderful day!


Categories: process, production, stamps, studio, textures

I spent the afternoon in the studio trying to finish up some pieces with a few slip details.
As if the obsessive stamping weren’t enough, frequently I also go back and add a dab of
colored flashing slip into each stamp. I love how the soda firing makes these colors pop,
and adds another layer of interest into my work.

Who doesn’t need a little more obsession in their life anyway, right?!