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

Today was all about finishing some mugs.
First I trimmed them all. And then wrapped them up while I made the handles.

I start with little chunks of clay gently thrown against the table to make “carrot” shapes. For some reason, I’m not sure why, I stand them up as I’m making them?! Like little soldiers waiting to go into service. Or in this case, kinda like a little Stonehenge of Handles?!!!

Then I pull each handles individually the traditional way. After I get them to the right thickness & width, I loop them over on themselves and stand them up again. This way, the curve is already set as they stiffen up a bit.

When the handles get to the right stiffness, I start attaching them to the cylinders. The tricky part with doing this many is trying to keep the handles from drying too fast and all at the same time. So I keep them under wraps and give them an occasional spray of water. Then it’s some scoring, slipping & attaching of the handles.

One after another… score… slip… attach… repeat.

Now that they are all “handled,” I’ve got them under plastic wrap for the night. That way the moisture levels can balance out a bit. Tomorrow I will do some final detailing, smoothing and add some colored slip accents before I set them out to dry.

Categories: tools

This afternoon I had a new tool to play with… thank you Sarah!
I think it will be fun to throw with to add some grooves on the sides of cylinders. But today was not a “throwing day” for me. So I decided to play with some slabs & some slip to see what it might do?!

First I dragged it across a slab of clay – and it makes some nice clean grooves.
Sharp edges down in the grooves with gently rounded edges on the tops.

Then I painted layers of slip on the slab and dragged the tool through.
Just playing with lines & squiggles! A little quick fun… now I need to make a plan
on how to REALLY use this fun new tool!!!

Categories: studio, tools
Categories: friends, tools

Sure, just after I struggle to figure out my eight favorite pottery tools… I receive a new “contender” in the mail today from my friend & wonderful metalsmith Sarah Chapman. She knows I love textures… and we both have far too many tools in our studios!!! So what’s one more tool from my “enabling” friend?! Thank you Sarah!!!

So now I need to get into the studio to give it a try…
and see what wonderful things this tool can make for me?!

Categories: studio, tools

It’s latest Facebook “trend” going around amongst the potters of the world!!!
Artists showing off their eight favorite tools in their studio. I thought about it for awhile and it was tough to narrow it down. I couldn’t make it JUST eight… so I hope that “collections” of the same tools count as one?!!!

1. My Shimpo VL-Whisper Wheel
2. My Shimpo banding wheel… my first pottery tool “gift” from Mom & Dad
3. My Giffin Grip… one of my best gifts to myself!!!
4. My square plastic bats.
5. My wire tool…. love the rubber loop ends and extra thin wire.
6. My wooden knife… with worn down end from burnishing after trimming.
7. My Sherill Mudtools plastic ribs.
8. Last but surely not least… tool boxes full of my own handmade stamps.

Categories: mugs, production, stamped

Tonight I did a lot of stamping on a lot of cylinders that will become my latest batch of mugs. This batch was made with soda clay… destined for my next soda kiln firing.

So for now they’re all wrapped up for the night. Tomorrow I’ll do a lot of trimming… and hopefully add handles too!

Categories: food

One more flavor to put to the test. While we still wait for the S’mOreos to come out,
it now looks like we may have another new flavor to look forward to!!!

Oreos have been around for 102 years. And since 2012, they’ve put out 35 different variations. We’ve tried a LOT of them over the years… and always ready to try a new one!!! Like S’mores… or Cotton Candy!!!

Click here for a great video where some “news correspondent” taste tests eighteen different flavors… after separating them into three groups. Classics. Fruit flavors. Dessert flavors… which is oddly redundant as Oreos are typically a dessert already?!

Of the one’s he taste-tests, we’ve had most of them!!!
Still looking for Limeade, Watermelon, Banana Split and Root Beer Float.

But of the 35 variations since 2012… WHICH FLAVOR IS YOUR FAVORITE???

Categories: classes, lillstreet

We’re still 22 days away from the official start of Spring…
but registration is already open for the Spring Session of my Beginning Wheelthrowing Class!!! We start up again on Tuesday, April 7th for another 10-weeks of fun. Don’t miss out… and don’t end up on the Waiting List!!!

Click here to register online at

Categories: bowls

Good to see that everyone in the family gets to use some Fire When Ready Pottery!!!
Even Lazlo, the cute little one-eyed kitty who lives with my friend & metalsmith Amy Taylor.

Categories: family, food

Look what was waiting at my front door when I got home… a yummy care package from my favorite Girl Scout up in Minnesota!!! Let’s “hope” this is enough cookies to curb my cravings. Thank you Caroline!!!