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

Last night, after my IRS audit and incredibly yummy “lunch”…
I wedged up a bunch of small balls of clay. Each of them 3/4 of a pound.
And then started throwing them all. On the wheel that is… not against the wall…

They all kind of look like cupcakes at this point?! But I’m hoping that after some stamping, detailing & trimming, these might become even cooler. Maybe even cool enough to become salt & pepper shakers?!

Categories: bike, nature, sunrise
Categories: friends, nature, pottery, seasons

When I got home tonight, I found out that a friend of mine had posted a beautiful picture of two ikebana vases with beautiful spring flowers on her Facebook page! Your daffodils make my vases look so much better Mary Pat. Thanks again for sharing!

Categories: Chicago, organization, sculpture

Well, today was the day. Long awaited. Long dreaded.
Not the best way to spend a beautiful Monday morning. But sometimes you just HAVE to!

So I received the dreaded letter from the IRS a couple weeks prior to filing my 2012 taxes. It said that I was being audited on my 2011 tax return. It’s the letter that no one EVER wants to receive. So not only did it make me dread doing my 2012 taxes a bit more, the 2011 audit was always in the back of my mind. After filing 2o12 on April 15th, with just a few hours to spare, I started working on clarifying & organizing my 2011 documents & records.

Now let’s just say… I’m not the best with numbers. I’m an artist.

I do the best I can when it comes to my takes. I follow Turbo Tax and answer all of the questions to the best of my knowledge. But seriously, do any of you REALLY know where all of those numbers are going?! I know I don’t. But I kind of figure that as long as I answer all of the questions honestly and have the receipts and documents to back it up, I’ll be okay in the long run. But still… tension & anticipation hoping & waiting to see how it all plays out as the IRS Auditor starts tackling my account.

Her first question was too see my documentation. My Excel Spreadsheet.
Once I forced myself to hold back my laugh, I explained that I’m an artist and I don’t do spreadsheets. But I do have a ledger sheet that I’ve created myself and fill in manually throughout the year. No spreadsheets here!

Luckily, after a few false starts, the IRS Auditor started to understand my “process.” As my friend Andrea calls it “Gary Math.” And she started to see where my numbers came from. She double-checked some of my totals, checked a few of my receipts, made a bunch of copies and asked a LOT of questions. I had to explain to her what my business was, how I make my money, how I make pottery, how I price my wares and a whole lot more! I think she was just trying to get an understanding of what she was dealing with here. Although I’m not sure that anyone who’s not a potter can REALLY understand what we all go through. At one point, she even asked my where the numbers that represent my “salary” from making pottery was. This time I laughed out loud. Do any of us really get paid to make pots? I know I don’t. No salary here. Everything I earn goes right back into the business so I can make more!!! It’s a labor of love… and I know I’ll NEVER get rich making pots. I do it because I love it..

So, after three-and-half-hours of my life that I’ll never get back, she did admit that I’ve done a really good job of keeping my records. She was impressed that everything was well organized, color-coded and represented well in my ledger. She said she was impressed… although she would still prefer to see all of my categories on a spreadsheet!

I must admit it all turned out better than I expected. At this point, she thinks that I’m pretty good. There was only one small issue she said shouldn’t make much of an impact. In the next two or three weeks she said she’ll give me the final determinations… but that I shouldn’t be concerned.

On my way out from the Federal Building, I did take a moment to enjoy the “Flamingo” sculpture by Alexander Calder. One of the nicest parts of downtown Chicago is all of the art, architecture & sculpture everywhere you turn.

After the audit, I went back to the studio to make more stuff. More stuff that my IRS Auditor now understands. But I was too excited… and I thought I needed a small reward. So I walked over to Margie’s and splurged!!! And yes, I called it “lunch.”

Almost made it worth “suffering” through the IRS Audit?! Well, not really…

Categories: bike, sunrise

What a difference a few hours can make?… the fog is gone and the sunrise was back.

After an early pink glow behind some creepy-cool trees (weeping birch?), I was headed down towards Navy Pier when the sun finally made it over the horizon.

And then early enough… and we had a surprising “spoke eclipse”?!!!
Okay, well… err… it’s actually the magnetic sensor for my bike computer, but who’s counting?!

Categories: production, stamps
Categories: bike, Chicago

Today was a beautiful Spring day in Chicago…
at least until a weird fog rolled in off the lake?! Odd… yet pretty darn cool!

With tree buds emerging. Skyline fading away… typically a nice view looking south from the North Avenue Boathouse. Trust me, there should be a skyline back there somewhere?!

Picture perfect around Belmont Harbor. Reflections… yet no lake beyond the breakwater!

We’ve seen this lighthouse on many a sunrise morning. Yet on a day like this, I would find it oddly more comforting if the lighthouse was still working. But alas… it does not.

Categories: glaze, studio

Okay, so I’ve mixed up a few. Dipped a few.
And now the results are starting to come back from the kiln. These were the first four tests… which were designed to be cone 6 glazes, but I thought I would try them in a cone 10 kiln as well. You never know when it might work in both, right!? You can always dream…

So here’s the deal… I’m looking fro some glazes that cover well, accentuate my stamping and maybe even do some really cool breaking or color variation along the way?! So I’ve decided to try a few new glazes. And if I need to start a little cone 6 firing for an added pop of color in my inventory, then so be it.

Like I said, these are cone 6 glazes fired in a cone 10 reduction kiln. I’m pretty pleased by the results. Encouraged by these results. And hopefully that the cone 6 tests will look even better – after being fired in the kiln they were intended for! I’m hoping to get the cone 6 samples back later this week!

In the meantime, if anyone out there has some good cone 6 glaze recipes that you would be willing to share, send ’em my way! Again, I’m looking for good colors that break well on stamped textures.

Categories: artists, pottery

Just two weeks from today…
We’ll be headed up to see some of my favorite potters in St. Croix River Valley Pottery Tour. Bob Briscoe, Matt Metz, Suze Lindsay, Steven Hill, Delores Fortuna, Sylvie Granatelli… and many more! There are seven studio locations open to the public, with talented potters everywhere… from everywhere. Three days of fun – and SO many great pots to see!!! Friday, Saturday & Sunday… yep, Mother’s Day Weekend! And yes, I’m headed north with my Mom & Dad for the weekend. Some added quality time with my parents!

As an added bonus, this year there will be seven new potters added to the Pottery Tour.
It’s always fun to see some new people, new pots & new ideas on the tour.

Ani Lasten – from Takoma Park, Maryland

Dan Finnegan – from Fredericksburg, Virginia

Ernest Miller – from Minneapolis, Minnesota

George Rector – from Cullowhee, North Carolina

Hannah McAndrew – all the way from Scotland!!!

Mike Helke – from River Falls, Wisconsin

Sarah Jaeger – from Helena, Montana

Wouldn’t it be great to some day break into the cool crowd and make it on to this “New Potters” list for big Pottery Tour? Dare to dream… dare to dream…


Categories: bike, sunrise

Calming orange skies this morning on the lakefront. Very quiet. Very serene.

And then I looked behind me… with a surprise full moon still hanging out in the Western skies.
Fun in both directions!

But back to the sunrise…
We also had low flying clouds that kind of “split” the sun in half as it came over the horizon.