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

Anyone else watching my new favorite TV show? I think I’m already hooked on “Bates Motel” on A&E. It’s a prequel thriller about Norman Bates of the “Psycho” movie fame! Find out what happened to Norman before he became one of the most notorious serial killers. And what was really going on with him and his Mom… who we now know was named Norma. Seriously?!

With Carlton Cuse as one of the show’s producers, it’s sure to have lots of plot twists along the way like my other favorite show of his “LOST.” In fact, the actor who played Richard Alpert is the town’s sheriff… and I’m hoping for more cross-over casting!

We’re only two episodes in, so you’ve got plenty of time to check into the Motel!!!

Categories: bike, sunrise

The morning started early & dark.
With a lot of clouds on the horizon, I was hoping for a beautiful sky full of sunrise colors.
There was a ton of potential in those clouds.

As the sun was making it over the horizon, the clouds seemed to clear at just the right time. However the sun couldn’t quite make it through the layers… except for little peeks of the sun here & there.

And all too soon, the next bank of clouds was moving in. Taking over the sky. Killing the sunrise. And settling in for the rest of the day. It was another gray & gloomy Spring day on Chicago. Good thing I got out to play when I did.

Even without the colors splashing across the clouds… we still had a pretty dramatic sky show!


Categories: artists, creativity, inspiration

I don’t know much about this… except that I love it. And I want one.
Okay, not just one… but a whole wall. I saw it on Facebook and knew that I had to share.

According to artist Ned Kahn’s website…
A 25-foot tall by 110-foot long, wind-activated artwork that consists of 3960, 9”x 9” squares of aluminum chain maille. These hanging panels of metallic fabric are extremely lightweight and responsive to subtle changes in the wind. The kinetic facade extends inside the building and covers a floor to ceiling wall inside the lobby where it is animated by the ventilation system of the building. The artwork installation was designed in collaboration with Davis Davis Architects in San Diego.

If you want to see the video, and trust me, you do… click on Ned Kahn “Chain Of Ether.”

Categories: bowls, process, production, stamps, textures

After bowling, pizza & ice cream, I went back to the studio for an evening of stamping. The pieces that I threw yesterday were a soft-leatherhard, some more so than others. So I started with the drier ones to allow the wetter ones to stiffen up while I was stamping. My plan worked. All stamped and wrapped up again for the night.

Categories: Taylor

It was a fun day for my 8-year old niece Taylor. It was her family birthday party with all of her cousins, aunts, uncles & grandparents… and a bunch of bowling balls! She loved her flower pot gift. And now I’m sure she’ll have fun dropping off the other finished flower pots to her friends this week.

Categories: special events, Taylor, terra cotta

The flower pots we made for Taylor’s birthday party finally came out of the kiln.
And they all look adorable!!! The kids did a great job on them all. I’m sure if we had
had a little more time, we could have refined them a bit, added a little more glaze,
and made them a little more “perfect.” But it’s that same “lack of perfect” that makes
them SO cute!!! And such a great souvenir from Taylor’s eight birthday party!!!

Maybe I’m just the proud Uncle.
And she has been here before, so she does have some clay experience.
But I must admit that I think that Taylor’s is the nicest of the lot. I really liked her use
of stamps for texture & pattern. And when she decided to make it as a birthday gift for
her Mom (my sister) it was very touching. Especially when she misspelled “birthday”
by accidentally forgetting the “th.” It was adorable. But then her Dad couldn’t resist
and had to step in and fix it… “Dad, step away from the clay.”

Callie went with the full Spring motif. She stamped in words, textures & patterns…
and then glazed it accordingly. She even had trees, grass, sky… everything Spring!

Jody went more for the two-tone effect. Splitting his pot in half with yellow & white.
And then adding a splash of green inside and around the water drip tray.

Charlie started with a nice design. Using  three heart stamps around the pot, and then
putting his initials in each one of them. And then he found the blue glaze…

Twin brother Theo liked the blue glaze too apparently?!

Piper was the most focused on color! She couldn’t get enough of it. I think she did the
best job of painting her piece. I tried to get them all to put on two layers of glaze…
but as you can see, Piper actually did and got the most vibrant results!

Once the kids were done with their flower pots, I kinda felt like I needed to make one too!
So I decided to make s flower pot for Taylor’s birthday… especially since she decided to make
her flower pot as a birthday gift for her Mom (even though her Mom’s birthday isn’t until
December?) I figured she needed one to keep for herself. It was a fun birthday party…
and soon she’ll have a great memento from their day at the studio!!!

And of course I can’t give it to her empty, right?! So I planted it with a beauty kalanchoe
plant with bright pink flowers. What little 8-year old girl would like bright pink flowers?!
And I’m pretty sure it might be her very first houseplant too!

She’ll see her finished flower pot, everyone else’s pieces and get her own flowery gift
tomorrow! I hope she likes it!!! We’re doing the “family” birthday party tomorrow
and she’ll see it then. Shhh… don’t tell her… don’t spill the beans!!!

Categories: bike, sunrise

With basically no clouds on the horizon, I was excited to have a criss-cross of
contrails for the sun to bounce off of. As the sun came up, the contrails went from
beautiful pinks to oranges. Very striking with all that color excitement in the sky!

As I passed Addison on my way home, the totem pole
created a beautiful silhouette in front of the marshy bird sanctuary.

Categories: bike, sunrise

This morning I started out a little earlier than normal. Not surprisingly, it was also a darker.
But it did allow me some extra time to go a little further!


Categories: inspiration

I saw this article on Facebook today… thanks Rochelle…
and knew that I had to share!    So?… what’s YOUR passion???


Find The Thing You’re Most Passionate About,
Then Do It On Nights and Weekends For The Rest Of Your Life.

By David Ferguson
As printed by “The Onion” on March 20, 3012, Issue 49-12

I have always been a big proponent of following your heart and doing exactly what you want to do. It sounds so simple, right? But there are people who spend years—decades, even—trying to find a true sense of purpose for themselves. My advice? Just find the thing you enjoy doing more than anything else, your one true passion, and do it for the rest of your life on nights and weekends when you’re exhausted and cranky and just want to go to bed.

It could be anything—music, writing, drawing, acting, teaching—it really doesn’t matter. All that matters is that once you know what you want to do, you dive in a full 10 percent and spend the other 90 torturing yourself because you know damn well that it’s far too late to make a drastic career change, and that you’re stuck on this mind-numbing path for the rest of your life.

Is there any other way to live?

I can’t stress this enough: Do what you love…in between work commitments, and family commitments, and commitments that tend to pop up and take immediate precedence over doing the thing you love. Because the bottom line is that life is short, and you owe it to yourself to spend the majority of it giving yourself wholly and completely to something you absolutely hate, and 20 minutes here and there doing what you feel you were put on this earth to do.

Before you get started, though, you need to find the one interest or activity that truly fulfills you in ways nothing else can. Then, really immerse yourself in it for a few fleeting moments after an exhausting 10-hour day at a desk job and an excruciating 65-minute commute home. During nights when all you really want to do is lie down and shut your eyes for a few precious hours before you have to drag yourself out of bed for work the next morning, or on weekends when your friends want to hang out and you’re dying to just lie on your couch and watch TV because you’re too fatigued to even think straight—these are the times when you need to do what you enjoy most in life.

Because when you get right down to it, everyone has dreams, and you deserve the chance—hell, you owe it to yourself—to pursue those dreams when you only have enough energy to change out of your work clothes and make yourself a half-assed dinner before passing out.

Say, for example, that your passion is painting. Well, what are you waiting for? Get out there and buy a canvas and some painting supplies! Go sign up for art classes! And when you get so overwhelmed with your job and your personal life that you barely have enough time to see your girlfriend or boyfriend or husband or wife, let alone do anything else, go ahead and skip classes for a few weeks. Then let those paint brushes sit in your room untouched for six months because a major work project came up and you had a bunch of weddings to go to and your kid got sick and money is tighter than you thought it would be and you have to work overtime. And then finally pick those brushes back up again only to realize you’re so rusty that you begin to question whether this was all a giant waste of time, whether you even want to paint anymore, and whether this was just some sort of immature little fantasy you had as a kid and that maybe it’s finally time to grow the fuck up, let painting go, and join the real world because, let’s face it, not everyone gets to live out their dreams.

Not only does that sound fulfilling, but it also sounds pretty fun.

Really, the biggest obstacle to overcome here—aside from every single obligation you have to your friends, family, job, and financial future—is you. And I’ll tell you this much: You don’t want to wake up in 10 years and think to yourself, “What if I had just gone after my dreams during those brief 30-minute lunch breaks when I was younger?” Because even if it doesn’t work out, don’t you owe it to yourself to look in the mirror and confidently say, “You know what, I gave it my best half-hearted shot”?

Categories: kiln firing

Getting ready for the summer art fairs… and the kids’ flower pots are dry…
so it was time to load a bisque kiln tonight. That’s one of the beauties of terra cotta.
I can do a low-fire glaze firing which also serves as a bisque kiln for my stoneware pieces.
If all goes as planned, the kids’ flower pots will be fired, done and sent to the kids soon!

Kiln Layer #1 – kid’s flower pots, wall pocket vases and some tiles

Kiln Layer #2 – kids’ water drip trays, star ornaments and tiles.

Kiln Layer #3 – one more water drip tray, spoon rests, star ornaments and more tiles.
And yes, I noticed a small glaze issue on the water tray, so I touched it up a smidge!

And here’s my kind of kiln loading…
Kiln #4 – herb flower pots, spoon rests, mugs and a lot of little kiln filler! My favorite!!!

Another good layer, if I do say so myself…
Kiln Layer #5 – mugs, ovals, cruets and some small water drip dishes.

I always love when the kiln finishes up with everything pretty darn close to the top!
So close sometimes that I wonder if the lid is going to close all the way?! Luckily, it does.

So that’s another kiln loaded… and now it’s firing. And I still have a LOT more greenware
waiting to go in. Looks like I’m going to be loading another bisque kiln pretty soon?!