Gary Jackson: Fire When Ready Pottery
A Chicago potter’s somewhat slanted view of clay & play
Categories: classes, special events, Taylor

Yesterday was my niece Taylor’s eighth birthday. And she decided that she wanted to
celebrate with her kid’s birthday party at the studio. She’s been here before to play in the
clay, but this was the first time she brought some of her friends! So we started with some
introductions, a few simple rules, some guidelines, some clay and lots of messy fingers!
Even my parents were there to watch, hang out and pitch in. Although I have a fairly
strict rule that adults can’t help “too much.” Which proves harder for some than others…
especially Taylor’s dad Scott who couldn’t quite keep his fingers out of things!

Our project for the day was to make terra cotta flower pots for Spring. We talked about
how we were going to make them and how they should have a plan, a theme, a concept,
a design. Some decided to keep it simple and keep it Spring. Others went for Mother’s Day
gifts, or even birthday gifts! Once they had a plan, they each started with a rectangular
slab of clay that they had cut out. With some fun stamps and texture tools, they set out
to design their terra cotta flower pots!

Once they all had their slabs decorated, it was time for them to form the slabs into cylinders
to become the sides of their flower pots. A bit of scoring. A bit of slipping! And pressing!!!

The cylinders then needed a bottom to keep things in! So we made round bottoms which
needed to be scored, slipped & attached to the bottom. Luckily, we had a few extra hands
at the ready. It was easier for the kids to score the bottom with Taylor’s grandpa helping out!

We then talked about how every good flower pot needs a water drip tray to catch the water!
So they started with another slab circle and attached a coil around to contain the water.

As always… the kids have mixed reactions to getting dirty. Some love every minute of it.
Some were tentative and try to stay clean. While some start hesitant and end up loving it!!!

After their pieces were assembled, we moved on to painting with underglazes.
Of course I always hope that they will take their time and paint with attention-to-detail.
Unfortunately, with time running out and pizza on the way… it’s a quick paint job!!!

And how fun it is to watch kids having fun… and more fun.. and even more fun…
Just to see the excitement & hear the giggles.

All too soon they were done and it was time to go. They look all cute & clean… but trust me,
they definitely have a wonderfully mischievous side in there somewhere. Especially after
a dinner of pizza, punch and chocolate cupcakes!

The birthday party was done. And I think everyone had a fun time playing in the mud.
So they all climbed back into the limo to take them back to the suburbs! Sure, they were a little
dirtier than when they came… but in the end, I think Taylor had a wonderful birthday party!!!

And special thanks to my studio neighbor Karen Patinkin for “unwittingly” letting us use
the work table in her space for the party. We tried our best to clean it all up afterwards.

To get our terra cotta out of her pristine porcelain world. Thanks again Karen!

1 Comment

Mike Pryor

March 18th, 2013

What a great idea for the kid’s. You can see their faces all glowing from the creativity. Very nice.

Leave a Comment