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

Last night was one of my favorite demos every session. It was the night when my beginner’s
learn how to make a bowl on purpose… instead of a cylinder gone bad. I show them the basic
techniques to make a bowl with a smooth, refined curve on the interior.

Once we finish the first bowl demo, I dismiss my students so they can get back to throwing –
and trying to make a bowl or two while it’s still fresh in their minds. At the same time,
I continue to throw a few more bowls. This time, I threw eleven not quite “matching”, but
relatively close bowls. Once I had them all thrown, I had my class reassemble for “Part Two”
of the demo. When I show them that “it’s just clay” and you can do quite a bit to decorate
it and make it your own! So we moved through pretty quickly with the intention of “introducing”
some concepts, techniques & tricks to get them over the “preciousness” of every piece.

Here’s a quick overview of my eleven bowls… that used to be the same. Now?…
not so much.

A little overwhelming at first… so let’s break it down a bit…

BOWL #1 – Simple fluted rim… with a pinch and a twist!

BOWL #2 – Simple fluted bowl times two! If four are good, eight are better, right?

BOWL #3 – Flared out flange… waiting for some stamped decoration when it stiffens up!

BOWL #4 – Flared flange bent upwards… looks like a handle over the top will tie it together!

BOWL #5 – Split rim with four pinches and gently squared off a bit.

BOWL #6 – Split rim pinched back together evenly in eight places.

BOWL #7 -Basic introduction to white slip… leaving a little extra thickness to make
a groovy swirl in the bottom. A little “surprise” for good glaze pooling!

Bowl #8 – After covering with white slip, I dragged a wood tool through the slip while it
was spinning on the wheel to create a dramatic spiral.

Bowl #9 – Rhythmic chattering through the white slip while it spins on the wheel.

Bowl #10 – A little newspaper cut-out stuck onto the clay with water… then carefully slipped
over completely. The newspaper character is carefully pulled out after slipping.

Bowl #11 -Using a normal tool in an unconventional way… the corner of a wood rib
pressed in to create this “snowflake”-esque pattern in the bottom of the bowl.

The bowls are now wrapped up in my studio stiffening up a bit. A few of them need some
extra “detailing” before I can call them done. There’s some stamping to be done, and
some additions & refinements to be done. And of course, trimming for them all.




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