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

Trimmed. Wrapped. Waiting for handles!!!

Categories: mugs, process, production, stamps

Tonight I stamped… and stamped… and stamped some more!
My cylinders were still a little squishier than I would like them to be, yet I persevered.
It was a synchronized rotation of unwrapping some, moving some, re-wrapping some, rotating, testing, touching and stamping mugs as they were dry enough to stamp. Sometimes I like them on a little softer side so I can manipulate & move the clay more. Tonight was one of those times… plus, I just wanted to get them done!

So, after a well-orchestrated evening of stamping, I got them all done.
Ten per ware board. One ware board at a time.

Finally, all four trays of mug cylinders have been stamped. So it’s 40 mugs under wraps for the night while they dry up a bit more to a drier leatherhard. Hopefully, I can trim them all tomorrow… and then add handles to them all this weekend?!

Categories: mugs, process, production

Well, I had a tower of clay to play with. So I decided to start with my “favorite”… MUGS!!!
I attached the tower, cut it into smaller pieces, wedged ’em up… and started throwing!

A few balls of clay later… and my work table was filling up fast. Time to cover them up for the night. I need them to stiffen up a bit, but not too much, so that they are ready to stamp later. Maybe tomorrow???

Categories: clay, process, studio

So you know when you have  a partial bag of “this” clay, and a partial bag of “that” clay. Some of it is a bit too dry. Some of it is a bit too wet. None of it is ready to go. Not quite enough of any one of them to make much of anything. So why not combine them???

As long as they all have the same firing temperature, it’s pretty easy. You might think it takes a lot of wedging. But not really… it’s easier to let gravity do the work for you! It’s a great little trick I learned from Emily Murphy, a former studio neighbor. And I’m going to share it with you!

So I started with three different kinds of clay. Some fairly dry soda clay (top), some squishy, unwedged reclaim mix (middle) and some stiff stoneware with iron (bottom). I start by cutting thin slices of each clay and making new stacks. I try my best to keep the layers even, and restack them by alternating the clay bodies within each stack.

As you can see, each pile is several layers of each different kind of clay.
Some soda. Some reclaim. Some stoneware with iron. Sliced. Layered. Stacked.

So here’s the stack of clay before I start combining the layers… nothing fancy.

Start by picking up the pile and slamming it down on the wedging table. Let gravity do most of the work. And I find it best to slam it down on the corner of my wedging table directly over the corner leg. Seems sturdier… and doesn’t make nearly as much noise!!!

After a quick slam, cut the clay in half. When you look at it, you can see all of the layers of different clays. I don’t know for sure how many there were… so let’s just say 12 layers for demonstration purposes!

So, after slicing the stack in half, put one piece on top of the other…
and now you’ll have 24 layers in your stack.

Another quick pounding on the table and it squishes together and flattens out a bit.
Cut it in half again, and you can see how your layers have doubled and squished thinner.

Stack one half on top of the other, and suddenly you have 48 layers!

Pound it again, cut in half again… and you’ll see how the layers are getting thinner & thinner.
Just from slicing and dropping it on the table! No power wedging. Very little physical labor.

Stack it back up… slam it down and now you’re up to 96 layers!
Pretty amazing how the number of layers multiplies so quickly… more & more, thinner & thinner!

Slice again. Stack again. Slam again. 192 layers!

Slice again. Stack again. Slam again. 384 layers!

Slice again. Stack again. Slam again. 768 layers!

Slice again. Stack again. Slam again. 1,536 layers!… and almost blended.

One last time… Slice again. Stack again. Slam again. 3,072 layers!
And it’s looking pretty well homogenized after some simple slicing & slamming.

So then I just pounded up the pile a bit and I now have a solid block of clay. The three different clay bodies are well integrated. And the difference in moisture levels has been taken care of. Ready to go. Much better to use.

I tackled all seven of the layered stacks I made from the three different clay bags.
Slice. Stack. Slam. Repeat… Slice. Stack. Slam. Repeat… Slice. Stack. Slam. Repeat…
And now I’ve got a tower of clay ready to go. Sure, the clay still needs some final wedging just before throwing. And now I’ve got to make something with this tower of fun!

Categories: stamps

While the whole “Keep Calm…” trend is wearing thin, this one struck a chord with me!

And now I’m apparently very “calm” now… after making a batch of new stamps!

Categories: artists, creativity, patterns

One good thing about this morning’s Winter sun…
it totally hit the stained glass in my dining room in just the right way! A great
“art-fair-trade” with stained glass artist Richard Diens of Goodwood Stained Glass Studio.

Categories: Chicago, nature

I can always tell when it’s a bit cold outside
when my dining room windows freeze over.
Yep, that would be today!!!

And just for the record, the ice is forming on the exterior storm window.
NOT my interior window to the dining room. Still toasty warm inside!!!

Categories: textures

Textures. Colors. Slips. Tiles. Grids. Pegboard… so many of my favorites!!!

Categories: organization, studio

Well, the “new canvas” project kicked it off and I’ve been cleaning my studio ever since. I think it’s shaping up nicely. Cleaned. Sorted. Labeled. Reconstituted. Threw away a bunch of stuff. Hasn’t been this clean since HGTV was there.

So what’s next???…

Categories: artists, creativity, lillstreet, sculpture

Tonight was the opening reception for “Sense Of Scale” at Lillstreet Art Center.
Celebrating the work of four inspired metalsmiths – and the beautiful work they make in metal.
Whether it’s sculptural pieces or wearable art, they are all wonderful beauties!

Of course, my favorite metalsmith Sarah Chapman was one of the celebrated artists!
Always making beautiful pieces, it was great to see her work on a larger scale – creating a textured metal constellation piece with beautiful insets of stitched stones & pearls. Additionally, the smaller glass cases had many of her jewelry pieces on display. For more of Sarah Chapman‘s beautiful work, click here for her website.

Sure, the installation grouping is wonderful. But the real beauty is in the details.
Textures. Colors. Architectural designs.

The second metalsmith was Darlys Ewoldt. I’ve seen here around Lillstreet, especially during Summer Camp working with the kids. I must admit that I was unaware of her larger, sculptural works. Her large sculptures were amazing. Great swirling movement and beautiful patina colors. For more of Darlys Ewoldt‘s work, click here for her website.

Sculptural crocheted wire pieces by Heejin Hwang were hanging from the wall & ceiling. Heejin was an Artist In Residence last year at Lillstreet, and is now teaching classes. I love the “hollow” volume of each, and even more, the “shaggy” layers of metal pieces at the top. For more information on Heejin Hwang‘s work, click here for her website.

One of my “crazy” favorites is the sculptural works of Stacey Lee Webber. She was also a Lillstreet Artist-In-Residence a few years back. Everyone was quickly enamored with her quirky style and use of everyday metal objects to create her unique works of art. Coins. Screws. Pennies. In fact… she once constructed a full-size ladder out of copper pennies!!! But I digress… for more of Stacey Lee Webber‘s work, click here for her website.

Like this wonderful bouquet made of screws… whether bundled together…
or flattened out to become the petals of the flowers!

Chain link necklaces made of copper pennies… or gold-plated screws!

Or a large installation piece dripping with chains made of coins… AFTER the faces have been cut out of each coin. YES – ACTUAL REAL COINS!!! So the chain of coins is draped on the left… and the Presidential coin heads on the right!!!

All in all, a wonderful show opening tonight at Lillstreet. It was great to see some of our favorite metalsmiths show off their larger “sculptural” style… along with their smaller jewelry pieces. Be sure to stop by Lillstreet to see this fantastic metal show.

“Sense Of Scale: Metal Sculpture and Wearable Art” through March 2, 2014.