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

A short blast of sunny Spring yesterday, followed by more nice weather today!
Adds up to a beautiful sunrise bike ride for me… with a few less clothing layers
than I’ve become accustomed to!!!

Categories: special events

Today was the 30th Annual Shamrock Shuffle… okay, so I’ve missed the first twenty-nine!!! But today was a beautiful day for my first Shamrock Shuffle! A fun 8K run through downtown Chicago! And lucky for us, today was a beautifully sunny day… finally. Sure, it could have been like ten degrees warmer, but otherwise a BEAUTIFUL day in the City… finally!

And what Shamrock Shuffle would be complete without a Leprechaun?!!!

With close to 40,000 runners flooding the city this morning, it was a great surprise to run into my friend Megan at the start. Sure, I never found my other friends I had planned to meet up with… but it was great to find Megan!!!

Soon enough it was our turn to start. After Wave One… after Wave Two… finally my Wave Three! With thousands & thousands of runners all around… waiting anxiously to hit the road!

And finally…. it was our turn… Wave Three, Corral H. And Stanley was ready to go too!

Through the streets of Downtown…

Past the historic Chicago Theater…

And the ever-popular Gatorade break stations…

And after five miles, and several Flat Stanley photo stops, I made it back to the Finish Line in Grant Park. Celebrating with friends (yes, I finally found them) all around Buckingham Fountain. Too bad it’s too early in the season for the fountain to be turned on. Still, Stanley was pleased to cross the Finish Line too!

And no race would be complete without the necessary rows & rows & rows of Portos!!!

After the Shamrock Shuffle, we walked around the city and played more with Flat Stanley. There will be more pictures to come towards the end of his “adventure” with me. He saw a LOT of the city today – and even made two “flat” friends!!! You know how much I love the Flat Stanley project… and I hope my cousin’s youngest kid Christopher will love seeing his journey at the end.

And here he is at my place… at the end of today’s Shamrock Shuffle journey!!!

Categories: artists, family, Mom & Dad, pottery

So I’ve posted about my Mom’s handmade pottery aprons before…
but then I must admit that I got distracted, overwhelmed & slid right into holiday frenzy mode! I know some people expressed interest in them then… so I’m posting them again! This time I am not so busy… I promise to follow through this time!!!

It was a bit reassuring to see that there weren’t really any good pottery aprons at the NCECA Expo. Not that we’ve “invented’ the apron or anything… but I do think we’ve designed a pretty sweet apron. It “works” in all the right places! Many of the potters at Lillstreet are already rockin’ a durable “Mom original” apron.

Here are some quick details about the aprons…
*  durable & washable heavy broadcloth fabric
*  lower section splits into two panels to cover each leg as you sit at the wheel.
*  patch pockets on the back of each hip.
*  straps actually go over the shoulders to avoid neck strain & fatigue.
*  three buttoned height adjustments.
*  three buttoned width adjustments.
*  “one size fits all”… for the most part.

Here is my friend & potter Greg Schultz throwing a large pot on the wheel…
and keeping his clothing clean all at the same time!

The following shows the current apron inventory. I have them for sale in my studio at Lillstreet. If you are interested in purchasing an apron – please send me a quick e-mail to “secure” your choice. They’re $50 each which includes shipping & handling (within the contiguous US States)… and they’re first come, first serve! Don’t miss out.

From the “Eclectic Collection”, a patchwork mix of gold-brown-earthtone
geometric patterns & textures. SOLD to Pam in Wisconsin!

From the “Eclectic Collection”, a striped patchwork with assorted pattern accents.
SOLD to Nikki in Illinois!

Navy blue with a small pattern of green, red & light blue across the apron.

A blue “denim” background with some printed patterns in yellows, reds & greens.
SOLD to Verna in Montana.

A cool mint green apron with whimsical butterflies flying across the apron.
SOLD to Fiona in Indiana.

A mind-bending pattern of black & white.

A retro-vibe with a musical flair!

Again, just let me know if you would like to purchase an apron.
Send me a quick e-mail to “claim” your apron. My Mom would be thrilled
to sell some more of them… which then means she can make some more!


Categories: bowls, process, production, stamps

I’ve had a LOT of bowls under wraps waiting to get to the leatherhard stage.
Today was the day for detailing.
Stamping… stamping… attachments… and even more stamping!

Bowl #1 –

Bowl #2 –

Bowl #3 –

Bowl #4 –

Bowl #5 –

Bowl #6 –

Bowl #7 –

Bowl #8 –

Bowl #9 –

Bowl #10 –

Bowl #11 –

Bowl #12 –

And here’s a few of the stamps that did all the work today…

And now the bowls are all stamped & detailed… and waiting to be trimmed.

As they dried up a bit more… I tackled each one and trimmed the bottoms of them all. So now they’re all drying and preparing for their upcoming bisque firing!

Categories: Chicago, movie

Those of us who live here already know it.
But those who haven’t been to Chicago might need a little visual “tutorial.”

Click here for a beautiful video about the beauty & strength of Chicago.

Categories: friends, process, textures

After spending the afternoon at the Shamrock Shuffle Expo, my biking friend Chris came back to the studio with me to play in the clay. We got to pretend we were “athletes” at the Expo, and then we got down & dirty in my studio. Chris has done a lot of other crafty projects, but this was her first time actually working in my studio. We decided to start “small”with some textured slab plates.

So first I showed her how to pull a slab by hand. And she rolled coils to create her own “slump” mold edges. Then we added textures to the slab… and Chris decided to go with some squiggles on the bottom of her plate using a plastic trowel from the hardware store.

After draping her textured slab over the slump-mold-coils,
she gently squished it in and then cut off the extra edges.

Some more textures to stylize the short ends of her tray…

And yes, those fingernails are an OBVIOUS sign that Chris is NOT a potter!!!
Pretty, but… those nails would have to go!

Chris did a great job, and created a wonderful plate. But the cutest part was when she stopped to admire and take pictures of her own work. Adorable!!!

And not one to stop with a platter… we also made a round bowl and a square plate.

So now her plates are drying. Tomorrow we rest & carbo-load…
for Sunday we will both be running in Chicago’s 8K Shamrock Shuffle!

Categories: mugs, production

A couple days ago I was trying to use up some partial bags of clay. Trying to clean up my studio a bit. So I was throwing some more mugs and the clay seemed a little weird. Not like the stoneware-feeling that I’m used to. It wasn’t until I was trimming & adding handles that it even crossed my mind that the partial bag of clay was porcelain?! So here’s my first batch of porcelain mugs ever! Not quite as tough as I had always thought porcelain would be… glad I didn’t know!!!

Categories: artists, movie

So my new Swedish potter-friend Saga Johnsson has created a wonderful film.
It’s a couple of days in the life of a potter in Sweden… and the making of one of her trademark mugs from start to finish. It’s a great little film. Love the style. Love the music!!! What a great idea… a little shameless self-promotion with a wonderful twist. Brilliant!!!!

Click here to watch Saga’s Silent Film on YouTube.

Categories: artists, creativity, inspiration, patterns, process

First off… this is a pretty darn impressive plate.
Second… I love the swirling, spinning, ever-changing patterns in the colored slip.
Third… looks like my Beginner’s will get a new slip demo next class session!!!

Click here to watch the beautiful demo video.
And seriously, the music soundtrack to the video is pretty incredible too.
It makes the whole process “sound” like so much fun too!!!

As seen on (and borrowed from)
As a person who’s spent more than a few hours at the seat of a potter’s wheel I can attest to the strangely soothing act of doodling around with wet clay sludge (called slip) before or after throwing a pot. As fun as it is, it’s still somewhat surprising to see the act elevated to this level of artistry by “Michael Gardner” who blurs the line between performance and visual art as he creates pattern after pattern on an empty wheel. FYI: the artist’s name is a Google translation from Russian via YouTube, if anyone have more concrete details on the performer/artist, send it over.