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

Sarah Chapman is back!!!
She’s had a rough go of it over the past few months. A lot of personal things to deal with, the passing of her mother, as well as moving her studio space to a new location. But now she’s slowly getting settled in again and back to making stuff. Including her July entry in the Holiday Ornament Challenge. She may have missed June, but she back with July’s entry… on the very last day of July!!! Just under the wire!

For July’s ornament, Sarah’s been playing with a new technique in her studio. Experimenting with a knot design embossed in copper sheet using the hydraulic press and finished with a black cotton cord.

Meanwhile, I was having a little trouble getting my mind wrapped around the July ornament. So I literally wrapped them around! I went with twisted spirals with stamped textures. They’re assorted styles, sizes & patterns. Each one fo them different form the next. My plan is to fire them in the soda kiln for some earthy-naturally-random flashing marks.

After stamping all of them, and letting them dry up a bit to make them more manageable, I added some colored flashing slip details. Hopefully that little dab of color in each stamp will give them each a festive little pop of color!

And you know I can’t make just ONE of anything… so I made a few…

A few days later… I made even more. So much fun to stamp & twist. The more the merrier!!!

Categories: summer camp

Every year during Fire, Forge & Feast Camp, we gently “encourage” the kids to come up with their own idea to have a Chocolate Chip Cookie Bake-Off. Just planting the seed. The thought. The idea. It’s amazing to Pam and I every summer how they come up with that plan “all on their own.” Ha.

Today was the day for the Chocolate Chip Cookie Bake-Off. Just what we need…
to get the kids all sugared up!!!

We had seven entries (six kids & one from Pam) in the Chocolate Chip Cookie Bake-Off Contest. Some classic, some not. Some with special ingredients, and one even “deconstructed.” Everyone in class got a plate with all seven cookies on it. Everyone got to do some taste-testing, pick their favorite and place their votes. Each camper got one vote… and a glass of milk!!!

Congratulations to Jackie who won the contest…
and was the proud recipient of my handmade terra cotta Blue Ribbon “Trophy” Plate!

Categories: bike, sunrise

It was a classic morning with a classic sunrise.

Categories: bike, sunrise

It was another dark morning…
with a delayed sunrise due to the layer of low-flying clouds on the horizon.

Categories: nature

Sure, this weekend may have been a little chillier than normal. But the afternoon sky today was stunning with beautiful clouds floating by. I loved the “highlighted” edges and the darker undersides. Both contrasting against the perfectly blue sky.

Categories: art fair

Next weekend I’ll be heading a bit north for the Evanston Lakeshore Arts Festival.
I’ll be packing up this week in the evenings after my days at Summer Camp. Putting a few finishing touches & prices on some new work. Dusting off my tent & shelves. Getting everything ready for another fun weekend in the park. Surrounded by great artwork, a bunch of art-fair-friends, and hopefully a LOT of great customers!

Evanston Lakeshore Arts Festival
Saturday, August 3rd & Sunday, August 4th – 11:00am-6:00pm both days.
Booth #42… hopefully the same spot as every other year!
On the southeast end of the pond, backing up onto beautiful Lake Michigan!
Located in Dawes Park on Sheridan Road, between Church & Davis in Evanston, Illinois.

Categories: production, studio

Quick night in the studio tonight… and another two dozen done! Oh yeah, and five more bowls!!!

Categories: family, special events

Today I spent the day at Six Flags Great America with my niece Taylor, my sister Jen, cousin Kim and my parents! A full day of family fun. Sure, there were a few clouds & more rain than we would like… but never enough to dampen our spirits! Good thing the rain scared away a lot of people and ride lines were short. Couldn’t scare us away though… as we were there ALL day from opening to closing!

We first tried to get on The Whizzer, but it was temporarily closed due to a few showers. So we went on a fast spinny, twirly ride instead. Once we were all a bit wet, we were ready to go further on… to towards our first roller coaster for the day – “The Demon.” Including Taylor & Jen in their “hard-to-get-lost-easy-to-spot-in-a-crowd” neon green shirts!!!

I sat next to my cousin Kim who hadn’t been to an amusement park for FAR too many years! It was like riding them all for the first time with her. It’s a “shame” she didn’t like them at all… ha!!! She LOVED them!!! Aunt Kim needs to get out more.

After a good “warm-up” with The Demon, we were off to the iconic “American Eagle.” It’s the big white wooden roller coaster you can see from the expressway as you drive by Great America. Taylor had conquered this one last summer, so she was excited to do it again. But still looked a little apprehensive going up that first big hill…

And then we made it to the top, over the crest of that huge first hill, and DOWN WE GO!!!

Then back up… and down.. and up… and down… and around…

Back at the station, we could look behind us to see that Kim and my Dad had conquered “The Anerican Eagle” as well. Kim was excited… and a little cold.

Then it was time for lunch. Jen & Taylor went for a theme park classic – CORN DOGS!!!

While we were eating lunch, the rain picked up a bit. Not enough to dampen our spirits, but enough to scare away a lot of other people. Suddenly, the park was a lot emptier and the lines for the rides got shorter. A few Six Flags ponchos at the gift shop and we were good to go again!

And what’s a trip to Great America without cotton candy?!… it’s finger-licking good!

And the residual blue tongues!

Then we were back on the rides. Who cares if there was still some rain?!

Sure, you might get wet. But you’re still laughing and having a great time. And it’s just water… you’ll dry off later! Plus it was fun to watch people’s ponchos blowing & fluttering in the wind as they were spinning around on the rides.

Next up was “Ragin’ Cajun”… one of our favorites from last year. So, from the outside it looks like this little kid’s roller coaster. It’s not very tall. It’s not very big. And it looks like it should be geared towards 8 year olds. So last year we decided to suck it up and take one for the team (Taylor) and stand in line. The line was a lot longer than I thought it should be for a kid’s ride. Once you get on, you find out quickly that it is much more than a kid’s coaster. Imagine a Tilt-A-Whirl on top of a roller coaster?! Yes, the round coaster cars go up & down around the track, but about halfway in, they also start spinning around… going up & down at the same time!!! HYSTERICAL!!!

After the ride, Taylor decided it was time to win a stuffed animal. So Jen, Taylor and I did the water0-squirt-gun game. Squirt the target. First to the top wins. And Taylor got her purple-footed panda… courtesy of yours truly with a dead-on trigger finger!

Later in the afternoon, another bank of rain clouds went through the park. It scared away a few more people, including my parents who decided to go out for dinner. But were weren’t done yet. So we bid them adieu… and were ready to start another round around the theme park. Hitting our favorites again, and tackling the ones we missed the first time. Including the iconic double-tiered carrousel.

Then, as the last storm blew past, the sky cleared up. We were treated to a beautiful sunset. And more importantly, NO LINES!!! Yep, that last batch of rain seemed to have scared away most of the people!!! The rest of our rides for the evening had practically no lines. When Kim and I went on “Raging Bull” & “The Viper”, we walked right up to the trains without ANY line at all!!! So much fun for those who survived the day’s rain!

Our last ride for the night was a return visit to “Ragin’ Cajun” for more twisting, turning, spinning roller coaster fun! Even more fun in the dark when you can’t see the track or where you’re headed!

Our timing was pretty good. As the rides were closing, we made our way back to Hometown Square where we met my parents for “Ignite: The Grand Finale.” It’s the Great America stage show they’ve been hyping non-stop on the radio. Turns out it was a typical theme park stage show, but this time with a large white backdrop-wall-building. The white wall was transformed with a lot of pixel-mapping & lasers. Sure, the story line could have been better, and I would have appreciated if they were singing live instead of lip-syncing… but still, it was visually fun to watch.

The ending was made even better with a fireworks show shooting off the building!

One last shot of the carrousel as we exited the park. Exhausted after a full day of fun.
Sure, we would have preferred better weather, but the trade-off of incredibly short lines was nice. I think everyone went home exhausted with some great memories!

Categories: bike, sunrise

Clouds everywhere. Darkness all around. Only a sliver of color low on the horizon.
Yet plenty of potential in those clouds for a colorful morning to come.

Just a bit further down the trail, the colors were almost perfect over Belmont Harbor.

And then… AMAZING!!!

But all too soon, the clouds were moving fast and the colors started to dissipate…

Soon enough, the morning color was gone. As was the sunrise.

Although it did try to pop through one last time. Right through that small hole in the clouds. Might be the last time we see the sun today?! The forecast doesn’t look so good for our trip to Great America?!

Categories: mugs, process, production, stamps

Last night I attached all of the handles to my mugs. Then the spent the night under plastic to help the moisture levels even out… and allow me a little more time to add some colored slip accents. Today, after a full day of Summer Camp, I stayed and worked in the studio to finish off all forty mugs. So here’s a basic mug fresh from the plastic… and waiting for a little pop of color!

I start out by choosing the colored flashing slip that I want. In this case, the light slip color will change to orange when & where the soda flames hit it in the soda kiln. First I attack the stamps, by adding a little patch of color on the raised portion of each & every stamp.

When the stamps are done, I then work on the top “smooth” portion of the mug… using the same “smooth orange” slip for color continuity on the mug.

So here it is… finished off with some colored slip accents.

And now they can be left out to the air to dry overnight. The production portion of the mugs are done. Keep in mind, there’s still a LOT of work ahead of them. They still need to be bisque fired, glazed and soda fired. They are by no means done… just done for the night!