Gary Jackson: Fire When Ready Pottery
A Chicago potter’s somewhat slanted view of clay & play
Categories: artists, classes, lillstreet, pottery

Several of the students in my Tuesday night Beginning & Advanced Beginning Wheelthrowing were more on the “advanced” returning side. As always, I like to customize the 10-week class to their wants & needs. So the first night I ask them what they want and the syllabus is built from that discussion. Along the way, I decided that some of my “returning” beginners needed an extra challenge!!!

So I challenged them to create a dinnerware place setting!!! To step it up and make a few pieces that go together. To make a plan, design a set, discuss visual continuity and so much more. Several of my student took the challenge… and showed off their final results last night during our last class of the session. We talked about having a dinner plate, salad plate, bowl, mug and tumbler. Anything additional was a bonus!

Dave : His set has a wonderful dragonfly illustration he carved into each piece and inlaid with colored slip. Beautifully rendered & well-crafted.

Sara : Her set utilized B-Clay and the way amber celadon so beautifully works with the clay… and just a hint of blue!

Marni : Unfortunately, Marni’s set has a few glazing issues. Her first plate had a much more subtle ombre effect of dark-to-light slip. The waxy white glaze didn’t cover all of her delicate slip work. It seems like the glaze may have been a bit too thick for the rest of her pieces. So they’re a little whiter than she expected, and the slip ombre gradation doesn’t show through as much as we wanted. Still, all-in-all, a beautiful set of “white” dishes.

Jeanette : Her set has a wonderful contrast of black-to-white and matte-to-shiny. Her splatter accents help with her contemporary style. Jeanette also has a slightly “odd” design continuity going on… you can’t quite see it, but let’s just say we’ve got to work on her clean waxing skills in the her next class. There’s a small “fingerprint” of wax on almost every piece where the glaze couldn’t adhere… so there’s a spot of raw clay showing through?! Adorably cute & consistent.

Melissa : After experimenting with marbled clay, Melissa went for it with her set. It’s a marbled combination of B-Clay and Stoneware with Ochre. Then a partial glazing with Josh Green glaze, and a light coat of gerstley borate on the interior. Her set has a wonderful “rustic-ness” to it – what with the earthy clay body and the patina-style glaze. And MORE pieces than were expected.. over achiever!!!

Patty : Her set played with matte black glaze and dramatic “brushstroke” of wax to create a wispy void across the pieces.

Katie : Unfortunately, Katie had a few more pieces still in the kiln. Cooling… but not ready to show off during our last class. I’m sure they will be beautiful with the contrast of Shaner White and Cohen’s Copper Red glaze.

I had a couple more students working on the challenge. Some were struggling. Some just found that life gets in the way of pottery sometimes. One of my students, Vanessa, kind of went off on a wonderful tangent and decided to carve and slip-inlay wonderful designs on all of her pieces. Her labor-intensive technique is illustrating bones, cellular structures and other wonderfully anatomical concepts onto her pieces… like a cranium with all its fissures on the inside of her bowl. She’s still working on them… abd I can’t wait to see the final results.

A huge congratulations to my students who completed their first Dinnerware Challenge. It’s a tough project to stay focused and design a set like this on your first try. I think they all did a wonderful job – and hopefully will continue with this momentum and keep moving forward. Thanks for playing along with my silly little reindeer games!

1 Comment

Debbie Buco

June 11th, 2015


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