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

Another dark morning. And there was one huge cloud on the horizon encroaching. Working its way towards where the sun is supposed to be popping up. I wasn’t sure which one would win out…

Turns out the cloud “allowed” the sunrise to have a sliver of space to show off!

Categories: process, production, stamps

The latest batch of “slender” oil lamps were stamped today… and trimmed…
and “flashing” slipped… and are now drying.  Let the process continue…

Categories: creativity, holiday

Last night I was one of the Judges for the Costume Contest at Navy Pier.
The annual event draws quite a crowd of people vying for the big prizes. During the day they had the kid’s Costume Contest… but I was busy making my own little Minion’s costume. So I could only be there to judge the adult costumes. The Family Pavilion at Navy Pier was packed with people, costumes & excitement.

The fun started right off the bat with Heinrich the emcee for the night! Apparently, he’s also part of the Navy Pier Crew. But he got the party started with his outlandish get-up!

There were so many fun costumes, and some not so great. And it was my job, along with two other Judges, to decide which one would be the top three costumes! Of course I was looking for creativity & sense of humor. And a commitment to a complete look from top to bottom. Plus, my personal preference is for someone who actually makes their own costume instead of just buying one from a store! So here’s a few contenders…




FOURSOME??? – Unfortunately for them, I didn’t quite get the connection… or theme?…


Second Place – GRETA GREMLIN from the movie “Gremlins 2”

He put in a huge amount of work on this! From the huge false eyelashes to the glittering red lips. The bedazzled stiletto heels. Not to mention the incredible handpainted body makeup from head to toe! Amazing.

And for those of you who never saw “Gremlins 2″… here’s movie Greta’s headshot…

Everyone wanted to get into the act… including one of Navy Pier’s head honchos Jen!

First Place – and the winner of round-trip airplane tickets… THE GARGOYLE.

All three of us Judges appreciated that the entire piece was handmade. That she had used so many different pieces & parts, so many textures, so many details. Not only the Gargoyle with extending wings, the claws, the teeth, the parapet of “stone.” Everything was created just for this. No store purchase mask here. We loved it. And so did the crowd watching.

And here’s my favorite part… that she had worked so hard on all of the details…
but left one small part “undecorated.” Too funny… and obviously homemade!!!

So here they are all together, the three top winners! Celebrating their Halloween victories!!!

And at the end of the night, I decided to celebrate my own little “victory” with a stop at one of my very favorite spots at Navy Pier. A little congratulatory snack for a busy day of Halloween fun!

Categories: creativity, family, inspiration, Taylor

Yesterday I got together with my niece Taylor to make her Halloween costume. She decided a few months back that she wanted to be a Minion from “Despicable Me.” Now I know that “Despicable Me 2” was all the rage with the pre-teen crowd this past summer. But I must admit that I missed that one. So I had to do a little research to make sure we got all of the details correct. So for the rest of you who also missed The Minions… here they are…

With so many Minions, so little time… we had to decide which Minion she wanted to be.
Of course, it was every kid’s favorite… the one-eyed one of course!!!

So I went out to my sister’s house early yesterday for a yummy “planning” breakfast, followed by shopping for costume parts & pieces. After gathering all of our supplies, it was back to their house to build a Minion. But when we got back to their house, I was greeted by a small family surprise birthday party!!! Yes, apparently my “Birthday Month” continues with more fun & parties!!!!

After we chatted, opened presents and ate party foods, it was back to my Minion!!! Some foam sheeting, some styrofoam balls & wreaths and a bunch of yellow fabric! And we’re off... into Minion Madness!!!

And my very-trusting niece Taylor was inside as I cut the mouth open… right where her face was. And yes, we were EXTRA careful. Grandma, of course, was sitting there cringing with every poke & snip!

With some pipe cleaners for hair, we were getting close to completion…

A few final touches… like getting the overalls to stay in place on her lack-of-shoulders!

And here it is… the final Minion!!!

So we had Taylor put on her overalls, shoes, yellow shirt, gloves and the Minion!
Then it outside for a quick photo shoot. She loved it – and I was surprised how tall it made her look! She’s normally shorter than the fireplace!

If you look closely, you can even see Taylor’s little nose poking out of the mouth.

Mission accomplished. Minion accomplished.
And here’s Taylor de-Minioned… but still excited & ready to wear her costume on Halloween!


Categories: inspiration, sunrise
Categories: mugs, process, production

My cylinders have been stamped & trimmed.
But to make them into mugs, they need handles. And tonight was the night.

Twenty-one handles on twenty-one cylinders makes twenty-one mugs!

So I start with small pieces of clay. I pound them on my table and rotate them so they start to form this little “carrot-shaped” wedge of clay. I make enough of them to create handles for all of the cylinders in waiting.

Then I pick them up from the fat end, give them a pinch, and start pulling the handle. With a wet hand, I slide down the clay with a bit of pressure. The friction draws the clay down – stretching it and making it thinner at the same time. Once I get it thinned down to a good “strap handle” width & thickness, I gently give them a “flip” so they can stand up like this. The flip gives them a gentle curve and sets them up pretty close to the curved handle shape I want. It also keeps them out of my way while they set-up a bit. After a few minutes, I put a piece of plastic over them very loosely. Then I start attaching them – oldest & driest handles first. And the plastic keeps the rest from drying out too quickly as I work through them all.

When the freshly pulled handles stiffen up a bit, I cut out the portion I want to use and carefully attach them to the cylinders. After a bit of scoring & slipping, they stick in place and I try to smooth everything in for a neat attachment.

After they’re all attached, I wrap them up overnight so the moisture levels can even out a bit. After a 24-hour rest, I will paint them with some colored flashing slip and then let them dry the rest of the way.

Then it will be off to a cone 06 bisque kiln… then glazing… and then my next soda kiln!

Categories: art fair, pottery

“My Home For The Holidays” Home Show.
It’s my biggest pottery sale of the entire year with pottery in every room of my place! Food & drink in the kitchen. And the ever-popular “Tired Of Shlepping Sale” on the back porch. Mark your calendar now for November 23rd & 24th from 10:00am-6:00pm. More details to come… and now I need to make more pots! Quick!!!

Categories: nature, photography, sunrise
Categories: bike, sunrise

This morning was cold. Literally freezing.
The thermometer said it was 30-degrees when I left home.
Cold enough for even more layers… and real winter gloves!
… glad I pulled some of my plants inside last night too.

At least there was sun this morning. So even though it was technically colder, it felt a smidge warmer than yesterday’s dark & gloomy sunless morning.

Categories: artists, bowls, friends, pottery

It was fun to come into the Lillstreet Gallery this evening and see a great table setting FULL of dinnerware by my friend & potter Delores Fortuna. It’s not every day you get to see so much of Delores’ great pots all in one place!!!