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

Rushing to get some Halloween fun made in time for “Art In The Barn”…
it was time to crank out some pumpkins. And once I had made pumpkins, it was time
to turn them into Jack O’Lanterns! But I digress, let’s go back to the beginnning…

I started by throwing some terra cotta orbs… simple enclosed forms with air trapped inside.

Once they had dried a bit overnight, to a wet leatherhard, I gave them some textured
pumpkin “stripes”  and altered their shape using the edge of a square chopstick.

And we all know that a good pumpkin needs a good stem.
Doesn’t everyone look for a groovy, cool stem on their store-bought pumpkin?!
So I rolled a coil, gave it some texture lines, attached it with some good scoring & slipping,
then twisted it and animated it a bit.

Now that I had pumpkins… it was time to carve faces into them like a good Jack O’Lantern.
First, I carved out the eyes, nose, mouth and details. Then I opened the pumpkin and “cut off”
the top with a good angle so that the lid fits & doesn’t swivel around. I added some “warts”
for added texture & whimsy… as well as two on the edge of each lid to help people line them
up to close the pumpkins properly.

I let them all dry overnight and then came back to paint them with colored underglazes.
I did some sponge-painting with the orange underglaze so that some of the terra cotta color
would show through and give them some depth – not just flat, solid orange. And a bit of green
on the stems to help accentuate the stem texture. I dried them overnight on plastic grid
sheets with fans oscillating overnight.

Then, after teaching my class Tuesday night, I glazed the Jack O’Lanterns with low-fire clear
glaze. I actually sprayed on the glaze to get a nice even, thin coat. Luckily, this crazy green
color disappears during the firing… and the colored underglazes will pop after firing!

Tonight the kiln was cool enough to unload… and I was pleased to see the shelf-full
of Jack O’Lanterns smiling back at me. Each one funnier than the next.



September 21st, 2012

What a good looking batch of pumpkins you’ve got there! I’m not generally a fan of seasonal artwork – seems too easy for it to go kitschy or just plain gimmicky, but these have a lot of great character and “artistic integrity” – whatever that means! Love it!

Steve D

September 21st, 2012

Those are lots o’fun and I’ll have to share with the folks at the studio where I hang out. Always enjoy your work and ideas. Thanks!!

Steve D

September 21st, 2012

Sorry, I was rude. I should have told you the name of the studio so you might check it out here on FB. It’s Wichita Pottery.
Thanks again.


September 21st, 2012

Love your pumpkins and gourds! Good Luck at Art in the Barn. Won’t be able to make it this year.

September 21st, 2012

THANKS LUKE – I’m always concerned about “tap dancing on that line” of artistic integrity. But I figure as long as they make me smile & giggle when I’m done making them, they must be okay. If they were to make me grimace in shame, that would be a different story!

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