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

While we were finishing up the last of the metal pieces, Pam did one last demo on connecting two pieces of metal with rivets. Some of the kids have moved on to salad tongs, pie servers and other pieces that have metal handles.

While Pam and the kids were riveting… I was connecting all of their metal cutlery pieces with the clay handles they made earlier in the week. Just a dab of 2-part epoxy will hold them together.

After they epoxy had cured, we started setting out each kid’s sets. Pulling together all of their clay pieces and metal pieces. So much fun to see everything coming together in the end… and seeing each kid’s creative vision come to fruition.

Gabi : Underwater theme

Madeline :Aquatic theme

Elynor : Underwater theme… yep, seemed to be a popular theme, huh?!

Alex : I think this might have been something about MineCraft… maybe ?!

Zoe #1 : Alice In Wonderland

William : not quite sure what his theme was… or if there even was one…

Bellah : Greek Mythology

Jessica : Jurassic Park

Claudia : Harry Potter

Zoe #2 : Food

Greyson : Mission Impossible

Sita : Garden…   but unfortunately missed most of the metals days…

After finishing all of their work, we finally had time to sit down for our feast. Everyone had brought food to share. A great potluck with all kinds of food. Sliders. Pizza. Sandwiches. Chips. Macaroni & Cheese. Rice Pilaf. Watermelon. Brownies. Ice Cream … and so much more!!

Oh wait… did I mention my favorite?…

Yes. One of our campers brought in her COTTON CANDY MACHINE!!! Whoo-hoo!!!
What’s not to like about spun sugar? And what’s even better?… Gabi’s machine melts down any hard candy and spins it inot cotton candy. So we had an assortment of Jolly Rancher flavored cotton candy. I went with the tried & true Watermelon Jolly Rancher!!!

Categories: art fair

Look who made it on the top of today’s Evanston E-News Newsletter?!!!

Little ol’ me. Just a quick announcement of this weekend’s art fair along the lake.
I’ll be in Booth #32 at the Evanston Lakeshore Arts Festival on Saturday & Sunday
from 11:00am-6:00pm both days! Hope to see you there!!!

Categories: summer camp

The kids are well on their way to finishing their placesettings. Most of them have finished their knives, forks & spoons. So today they’re working on additional pieces. More spoons, more forks, maybe a spork or two… salad tongs, napkin rings, copper bowls, etc.

So today there was more cutting…

And more pounding…

Categories: food, summer camp

Somehow… again this year… the kids had the brilliant idea to have a chocolate chip cookie bake-off. So today after lunch I spread them out and made plates for each of the kids. We had eight different entries in the Chocolate Chip Cookie Bake-Off. So each plate had eight cookies with a corresponding number under each one. The instructions were that the “judges” had to taste each cookie and vote for their favorite. And they couldn’t vote for their own. No rules or parameters on “your favorite.” Just a quick vote. Each kid got to taste & vote, as well as Pam and I, and a few other neutral people I pulled into play our game. I had to teach last night so I didn’t have time to make cookies. Plus it would be awkward if I won my own contest. So instead I brought milk for everyone to cleanse their palates.

At the end of the contest, we had more than a few cookies left over. A couple huge plates of yummy fun that we shared with anyone who wanted some. We offered them to the parents as they picked up their kids. We offered them to other teachers. And we offered them to everyone in the ceramics department.

Notice that there are none of Cookie #8 in this pile.
It was the double chocolate cookie with marshmallows baked in. Yummy…
and the winner of the contest!!! Congratulations Madeline on your big win!!!
She’ll get the trophy plate when it comes out of the kiln on Friday.

Categories: summer camp

Today my Summer Campers moved over to the Metals Department at Lillstreet. For two days we’ve worked with clay, and now we’re going to stat working with metals. They’re first task was to start designing their cutlery. Keeping their them in mind. We want them to make sure their cutlery pieces go along with the pieces they’ve already made in clay.

And then my co-teacher Pam Robinson started giving them a demonstration on how to cut their metal pieces. It’s a whole new set of skills & tools that they need to learn about. The kids quickly realize how much more fun it is to play in the clay!!!... shhh, don’t tell Pam that.

After the demo, the kids started cutting. Saw blades moving… up & down… up & down… and breaking!!! If you push too hard, give it a twist, or jerk the saw there’s a really good chance the blade will break. Understandable. But we want to encourage the kids to be careful and not break too many saw blades. So Pam & I make it a small contest… whoever breaks the fewest blades will win a prize that Pam made for them!!!

After they finish cutting their pieces, and filing, and sanding… it’s time to add some texture. So it’s back to demo time with Pam. Now encouraging the kids to make noise and pound hammers on metal. Whoo-hoo… it’s going to be a long & noisy afternoon with the kids!!!

And after a lot of hammering & broken saw blades, Pam is still smiling!!!

Categories: lillstreet, summer camp, terra cotta

Look what just came out of the kiln!!!
The kids left camp with a layer of colored underglazes on their pieces. One of the Kid’s Monitors did a winderful job of glazing the pieces carefully for them. Tracey actually dipped them upside down in a bucket of clear glaze that had been thinned down. Brilliant!!! And now that the kid’s sets are done & complete, I thought I should share some quick phtoos before they go home!!! Check… and Check Mate.

Hockey : Two Teams… complete with the MVP Trophy and the Stanley Cup as King & Queen.

Cats vs. Dogsthe age old rivalry between canines & felines!
With bones as pawns for the Dogs,,, and mice as the pawns for the Cats.

A “Normal” Chess Sethe didn’t want no crazy theme!!!
He just wanted the Kings to be Kings and the Queens to be Queens. Simple. Done.

Normal People vs. Normal Peopleor something like that?!
So I’m not really sure why one line of pawn is boxes of golf balls? And the other line of pawns is basketball players, with only two having basketballs?! Doesn’t really matter though… Jane was fully committed & dedicated to her theme. It all made sense in her head and that’s what matters most.

Mario vs. Bowzeror something like that?!
I know it’s a video game reference, but sadly I’m “too old” to be hip to the new games!

Godzilla vs. Monsterzillaor something like that?
Again, the little guy was completely engaged in his project and could tell you what each piece was and why it made sense in his theme. And if he’s happy… so am I.

Categories: sunrise

Long & panoramic… and a little less panoramic!!!

Categories: bike, sunrise

Beautiful clouds with beautiful colors. The morning started with drama…
and just got more & more dramatic as the morning went on!!!

Categories: glaze, summer camp, terra cotta

Today the kids came back to see how much their Monday plates had dried. Now they need to make the rest of their pieces AND glaze everything by the end of the day. Starting off with a discussion of how INCREDIBLY FRAGILE their plates are at this stage. And that if something breaks off now that they’re dry there is NO WAY to put it back together. I like to put a tiny bit of fear in them so they will work with a little extra care & patience. I tell them that if something breaks off at this point, it’s either gone for good or they need to make a replacement piece!!!

We only had one overnight casualty. One of the plates dried too fast and cracked right through the center. And then when I moved it to the table, the tail popped right off into my hand. Not a good sign. So I quickly made the “base” of another fish plate for her, and she did the detailing when she got in. Problem solved. Back up to speed. And that brass dragonscale tool that sits in my toolbox came in really handy to make some fish scales!!!

After they finished building the last of their pieces, they all began painting them with our Teacher’s Choice brand glazes. They’re a simple collection of colored glazes that work really well on these kids projects. It’s so much fun to see their monochromatic plates & cups come to life in color… knowing that they’ll get even better & more vibrant after they’re fired.

And “somehow”… I don’t know how, but “SOMEHOW”… the kids start a discussion and decide “all by themselves” that we should have a Chocolate Chip Cookie Bake-Off Contest tomorrow. Brilliant idea. On their part. And who am I to say no?!! I would never want to dash their dream & desires especially when there will be a lot of cookies in it for ME!!! So glad they thought of this idea all by themselves… with just a smidge of coaxing by me… a smidge… maybe a tiny bit… allegedly.

So if there’s going to be a contest… of course we need a BEST COOKIE TROPHY!!!
So I threw this little ditty together for the winner!

Categories: bike, sunrise

Clear skies as far as the eye can see… and that’s pretty far!!!

A beautiful, quiet & uncluttered morning. And now back to Summer Camp!!!
Which I’m sure won’t be quit so quiet… or uncluttered!!!