Gary Jackson: Fire When Ready Pottery
A Chicago potter’s somewhat slanted view of clay & play
Categories: holiday
Categories: garden, nature

After an incredibly “windy-&-crashing-wavey” bike ride… I showered, changed
and head off to work. But as I was leaving, I noticed this beautiful little plant blooming
in my front garden. I’ve never seen it before. And to be quite honest, I have no idea
what it is nor where it came from. Either way, it’s a beautiful surprise in my garden
that has pretty much withered away for the upcoming Winter days! To me, it kind of
looks like an orchid… but who knows?!… anyone???

Categories: bike, Chicago, nature, seasons, sunrise

Sure, they can say that the bike trail is closed.
Sure, they can tell you stay off.
But some of us just see that as a challenge.

So, yes… I was out there this morning riding my bike along the lakefront.
With such an unusual weather event in Chicago, I felt somehow oddly “obligated”
to go outside to play in it. And yes Mom, I made sure I was always a safe distance
away from the waves!… kinda…

And to think I was swimming in this exact location just a few months ago getting ready
for the Triathlon. Glad these waves waited until now with my wetsuit packed away!

A little further south, and the waves were crashing in around the harbor. With a great view
of the city as the crashing waves look as though they might wash away the skyline?!

Whoops… and there goes the bike trail… glad I was on the “safe” side of the harbor!

All in all, the morning ride was quite spectacular. You can’t tell me “not” to do something
and really have me not do it. Especially when they have been hyping this weather event so
much. Okay, so the ride home wasn’t too fun with gale force winds blowing into my face!



Categories: kiln firing, pottery

I unloaded my soda kiln tonight and was thrilled with the results.
It’s always a fun “treasure hunt” as you uncover it layer by layer, shelf by shelf.
I got some great colors, a lot of fun flashings… and more importantly, no kiln splats
or chunks in any of my pieces. A very clean firing. I took some photos and hope to
have more time soon to post them! Sorry, you’ll have to wait…

Categories: nature, sunset

Okay, so I’m sure you’ve figured out by now that I don’t get a lot of sunsets.
Generally, I find that all of the buildings, posts & wires kind of get in the way
of a good sunset photo. Well, the crazy weather coming off of Hurricane Sandy
gave us a really incredible sunset tonight. The colors were so incredible…
especially the “layered” effects. So I had to make an exception… and found that
with a little extra effort, you can get a pretty good sunset picture from the
third floor of Lillstreet Art Center. Who knew?!

Categories: bike, nature, sunrise

So the morning sky was spotted with clouds. And a little windy that usual…
okay, a LOT windier. And they’ve already been talking about how much worse tomorrow
is going to be! They’re saying that Hurricane Sandy is “sharing” some of it’s punch here in
Chicago as it devastates the East Coast. They’re getting pummeled… and we’re getting windy
& crashing waves! So instead of another beautiful sunrise morning, I was more intrigued by
the waves as they were crashing in and “exploding” over the sides. So much fun trying to
“catch” the picture, but not get caught by the waves! No one wants to be soaking wet
for the headwind ride home!

Time it right… and sometimes you catch a good one… like this one that almost got me!!!

And we’ll see what’s up for tomorrow. As the hurricane is predicted to hit land on the
East Coast, they’re also predicting that the wind & weather in Chicago will be worse too.
There’s already been talk of them possibly closing down Lake Shore Drive… as well as
the lakefront bike trail! Say it isn’t so…


Categories: holiday, lillstreet

After turning off my kiln, I joined a bunch of dun metalsmiths from the
Lillstreet Metal Dept. for a good, old-fashioned pumpkin carving party.

Thank you Pam for inviting me… even though she was “cheating” with power tools
while the rest of us used old-school, kids-proof scoops & knives!

Categories: kiln firing

The soda kiln was all ablaze with colors & flames as I was inserting the soda mixture into
the kiln. You gotta love playing with fire! I just turned the kiln off, and I’m always amazed
at the sudden silence. Just a warm, crackling glow. And a treasure trove to be unveiled &
unloaded Monday night!!!

Can’t wait… but I have to as it cools all day tomorrow and most of Monday!

Categories: kiln firing, pottery, process, production

So my handmade studio rolling cart made it safely down  to the first floor kiln room.
The masking tape “safety belts” really did the trick again as we traveled down the rickety
freight elevator. Nothing jumped off the cart as we hit every bump along the way.

And then the loading began… an arduous task as I try to pack in everything I can!

The back stack of the kiln always seems to load a lot faster. Not only because it’s only
one shelf deep, but I think it’s also that there’s a lot of work to choose from. Later on,
your searching and hoping for that perfect sized piece to fit that precise spot.

I finally squeezed in pretty much everything I possibly could. It took hours!
It’s a delicate balancing act as you stack shelves and try to leave enough space so that the
soda vapors can travel through – versus packing it tight to get the most work you can into
the kiln to help justify the kiln & gas fees. So as you can see, I err on the side of packing it
tight. And I love have smaller pieces like ornaments & tiles that make the perfect kiln filler.
Very little of the white, kiln-washed shelf even show after I place hundreds of tiles in the kiln!

After housr of packing the kiln, you still need to bulid the dor brick-by-brick.
It’s very “old-school” but still a lot more fun than a new-fangled metal door!
So once I have it closed up, I turn it on low for maybe 15 minutes while I’m gathering my
things from my studio. As I’m ready to leave for the night, I turn off the kiln and close the
dmaper to try and hold in some heat. As I know that it’s just a few short hours until I’ll be
back to start the firing early tomorrow morning!

Categories: glaze, process, production, studio

Last night I got a lot of glazing done. It was another late night, but I got most of the
“smaller” pieces glazed & wadded. Today I need to focus on the larger ones… and then
load the kiln for tomorrow’s soda firing! Looks like it’s going to be another long day…