Gary Jackson: Fire When Ready Pottery
A Chicago potter’s somewhat slanted view of clay & play
Categories: artists, bowls, inspiration, pottery

Sometimes I wonder if anyone even reads this blog.
I my ramblings and photos are being seen by anyone, or if it’s just for me?
But then every once in awhile you get a note, a comment, an email that makes it all
worthwhile. That confirms that someone is out there reading… and caring. And that
maybe in some small way my blog is affecting & inspiring someone out there.

Well, today was one of those days. I received this message through my Facebook page.
It’s from a potter named Sam that checked in with me on my blog a few years ago.
Over the years, she’s posted a few comments now & again. It’s so great to see where her
work has gone. How much she’s progressed. How you can see her joy & confidence. And
that somewhere in there are a few “inspirations” from me. Or at least I’d like to think so…

So here’s her Facebook message regarding her bowl making endeavors.
Apparently she’s involved in an “Empty Bowls” project as well. And she’s been busy
making bowls for the annual event.

“You inspired me two years ago when I began this bowl making journey. Now I’m
up to three hundred bowls each year as my style has become so popular that more
and more people want one. They have actually had to turn people away this year
because they can only seat 300. I’m also the local poster child for our bowls event too.
Have a great year Gary!”

Love the stamping. The slip trailing. The split rim. The detailing. You know
how I love it when people go “a bit over the top”… too much is never too much!

Thank you Sam for sharing. Your bowls are beautiful…
and I LOVE that your doing what you love to do. It shows. And for sharing
your love with others. Especially those 300 people who will get one of your bowls!

Categories: creativity, special events

Okay, so I may not be religious, but I do enjoy a little religious humor now & again!
I couldn’t resist…

Categories: bowls, pottery, special events

Apparently today Crain’s Chicago Business listed Lillstreet’s “Empty Bowls” event
as one of the “Top 10 Things To Do This Weekend in Chicago.” And some of my
stamped & soda-fired bowls were used as the “poster child” for their posting as well!!!
Lucky me… yet even luckier if they would have mentioned my name!!! Oh, so close…

Click here for Crain’s Chicago Business “Top Ten” List for this weekend!

And for those of you who don’t feel like clicking on the link above,
here’s a picture of the bowls that made a “surprise guest appearance” today!!!
Not quite famous (yet)… but I’ll take any publicity I can get.

Categories: bowls, inspiration, lillstreet, pottery, special events

The Empty Bowls Project is a nationwide effort by potters to end hunger. Lillstreet Art Center
is proud to host this 6th annual event to benefit First Slice, a local hunger-fighting
organization. Just a quick FYI… First Slice is also a great place to get a snack, a sandwich
or a piece of pie… or two! And they’re conveniently located in the Lillstreet Gallery...
a little too convenient to my studio if you know what I mean!

Join the festivities and share a modest meal of soup and bread, served in a handmade bowl
donated by a ceramic artist that you may take home as a reminder of all the other bowls
you will have helped to fill. So not only to you get dinner – you get a bowl!!! And you feel
great doing a good deed at the same time!

Bowls are $25 each, and there is no limit to the number of bowls you may purchase.
Sales begin at 5:00pm on a first-come, first-served basis. FYI – several of the donated
bowls will be mine!
There will also be a silent auction of artist-crafted items…
and I’ll have a donated piece in the Silent Auction as well. Anything for a good cause!

The Empty Bowls Project – at Lillstreet Art Center
4401 North Ravenswood (at Montrose), Chicago, Illinois 60640
Just a few steps east of the Montrose stop on the Brown Line.

And by the way… did I mention that the stack of bowls that have become the
“poster child” for Lillstreet’s Empty Bowls Project are actually mine as well?! Go figure…

I made the bowls several years ago when we were still at the old Lill Street location.
Emily Murphy and I went to a workshop with Australian soda-firing guru Gail Nichols
at the Northern Clay Center in Minneapolis. I was kind of “new” to the soda process and
still learning a lot. She showed off some of her bowls that she threw and fired on their sides.
I was intrigued enough that when I got back to the studio, I made my own version of the
inspirational “Gail Nichols Bowls.”  All bowls are similar, but each have a different soda
flashing effect. Some more subtle. Some more dramatic. Some blasted with soda.
And not a single stamp to bee seen anywhere… like I said, it was several years ago!

And if you stop by my place, or come to my Holiday Home Show,
you can see this full stack of bowls still on top of my kitchen cabinets!

Categories: holiday, ornaments, process, production, textures

So here we are… Month #2 in our Holiday Ornament Challenge!
Sarah Chapman and I have committed to creating a new ornament every month.
Mine will be clay, her’s will be metal. Who knows?… some day maybe a combo?

Sarah’s ornament this month is copper with brass chain connecting the pieces and has
a “torch” patina. She made the copper bells using a form folding technique called the
“Heisted Cup.” Here’s a link for all you metal’s people out there who would like to try it.
Click here… “Heisted Cup.” The process is magical. And I especially love the “torch”
patina effect on copper. So much fun… and maybe three angels will get their wings?!

My ornament started out as a star pillow, but then I got a little carried away. I decided that
the “pillows” don’t need to be closed.  So I left the sides open, leaving a nice void inside.
My plan is to soda-fire these – and I hope that the inside gets some groovy flashing marks.
So far, the plan is that one side is painted with flashing slip, and the other side will have some
glaze inlaid into the impressions. Once they’re fired, they’ll also get a metal hoop going
through the middle of the star to hang from like my original ornaments.

Unfortunately, again this month, I don’t have any fired ornaments to show off yet.
I’m still building enough work to fill the kiln before I can fire it. So the pieces are piling up.
Once I have some pieces fired and ready to show… you’ll see these and all previous
ornaments again. Finished & fired… not just greenware… again!

Categories: process, production, stamps, studio

Mission accomplished… All nineteen small ovals that I threw last night are now stamped
& assembled. They’re under wraps overnight so their moisture levels can balance out a bit.
Tomorrow they’ll get some colored slip details & start drying. But for today…
they’re done… with plenty of time for tonight’s Academy Awards!!!

Categories: process, production, studio

At one point this evening, I found myself “done” and in between projects.
My wall pocket vases were done and wrapped up for the night. I had finished
making some more of my “February” ornaments and the props I’ll use to fire
them in the kiln. My work tables were full… but it was still early in the evening.
Oh, what to do?… I know, go downstairs to chat in the Lillstreet classrooms!

So after discussing movies and tomorrow’s Academy Awards, I was still
questioning what I was going to do. Go home early, or stay and throw some more stuff?!
I knew that if I didn’t throw more tonight, I would have pieces to work with tomorrow.
So I decided to stay, with the encouragement of Terry Hogan who was still making some
of her precious pierced porcelain pieces. So I went back upstairs and started throwing…
and lucky for me, my studio neighbor Karen Patinkin’s work table was empty so I put it
to use! I moved a few things to her space “temporarily” to make room for my new pieces!

I’ve made ovals in many sizes. This time I decided to go a little smaller. So I wedged up
some small pieces of clay… each one a 1/2-pound of clay. Smaller than I’m accustomed to.
But fun & challenging… especially the wedging was a challenge! Tomorrow I hope to
come back to stamp ’em, floor ’em, colored slip ’em and start ’em dryin’!

After throwing 19 of these bottomless cylinders, I went back downstairs to tell Terry
that I took her advice and stayed. Only to find out that she had already packed up
& gone home….. slacker!

Categories: process, production, stamps, studio

Yesterday they were thrown. Today they were stamped & altered.
Tomorrow they’ll get  some color slip accents, a hole for hanging and then they’re set to dry.
Once they’ve been fired in the soda kiln, these vases will be perfect for hanging flowers
on the wall… up & out of the way.

Categories: pottery, production, stamps

By now you know I LOVE making ovals!
Seeing a round, thrown-on-the-wheel cylinder become a new oval shape is fun!
Whether I’m making large casserole dishes, or medium oval vases for flowers…
But then there’s this latest batch of small ovals for who knows what?! So cute!

Categories: My Talented Friends, nature, photography

After I posted yesterday’s photos of the “frozen fissures” in Lake Michigan,
I received a link to this incredible YouTube video. Apparently, the oldest son
of “My Talented Friend” jeweler Amy Taylor lives in Antarctica and filmed this great
time-lapse video. Kinda makes my “frozen fissures” photos a bit anti-climactic?!
Here’s one of my photos…

And here’s the link to the time-lapse video, and some screen captures as a little teaser.
Some frozen fissures on a much grander scale.  Antarctica versus Lake Michigan?!
Click here to see the video… “Ice and Clouds”