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

This week at Summer Camp we’re doing “Fire, Forge & Feast.”
It’s an ambitious camp where we have the kids make an entire placesetting on just five days! The first two days we work with clay, then two days in the Metals Department, then on Friday we pull it all together and have a huge FEAST for lunch. A full set with a consistent theme throughout.

So I started off this week with introductions & rules, as usual, and then we went into some basic handbuilding skills. As many of them professed to have good clay experience, I had a couple of them do the demo as I explained how & why they were doing each step.

And then the kids set off to start their own plates!!! Keeping their themes in mind. And determining how they were going to best represent their themes on a dinner plate, salad plate, bowl, platter, mug and cutlery handles.

By the end of the day, we had a table FULL of wonderful pieces. So much creativity. So much energy. So much fun to be the teacher who gets the kids to do all of this!!!

Categories: photography, sunrise
Categories: bike, sunrise

The morning started out very foggy. Tough to see where you were going. My glasses were covered with moisture. The streetlights were just large glowing orbs in the sky. You can’t see it, but… not too far off in the distance of the photo is the North Avenue Beach House… just past the beach-comber machine on the far left.

Luckily, the fog dissipated and we got a pretty nice pastoral sunrise.


Categories: theater

Tonight we went to a wonderful production of “Into The Woods” at the Ethel Barber Theater on the campus of Northwestern University. It’s one of my favorite musicals… so quick, so witty. The lyrics are brilliant thanks to the wordsmithing of Broadway legend Stephen Sondheim. Live theater is always more fun than the movie!

One of the most inventive parts of this production was the set & staging. The set design was based on books, bookcases, shelves and layers of boxes that served as platforms for the actors to work on. At first I was concerned… no trees? no forest? no woods??? But as the show went on, they completely won me over. As the story begins with “Once upon a time…” and is basically a fairy tale come to life… this production has a lot of book, pages & paper themes. The birds who help Cinderella with the lentils are books “flying” with the help of actors. The “leaves” on the tree are actually pages from books. When the Giant wreaks havoc on the village, pages come flying down from the rafters. Even the wigs of the characters are made completely of paper!!! So much fun… and the individual performances were spot-on as well. I LOVE Little Red Riding Hood!!!

Categories: creativity

I was caught off guard this morning by the “new security system” in the garage behind my courtyard!!!

Sure, it’s just a normal stuffed animal…
but I must admit it did make me do a double-take!

Categories: patterns, summer camp

Best thank you gift from a Summer Camp kid ever! You know how I like my tie-dye!!
So it was a wonderful gift from one of my Chess Campers… Thank You Eli.

Categories: summer camp

Chess Camp has just FLOWN by this week. The kids were so much fun this time around. A little bit younger than previous years… so it took me a little time acclimate. Their skill sets & attention-to-detail may not have been quite up to where their enthusiasm & energy wanted them to be. But it’s that “crude”¬† and adorable rawness to them that make each set so adorable!!!

We spent most of the day painting all of the pieces with colored underglazes. They will be glazed with clear glaze over the weekend by the studio monitors. A couple kids had a few last pieces to make… and a few others also found that they needed to make some “replacement” pieces as their originals broke during the painting process. It was a tough lesson to learn that scoring & slipping DOES indeed matter… and if you don’t to it well, your chess character’s head might just fall off!!!

So here are some of the chess sets at the end of the day. Painted and lined up… double-checking that they have all of the pieces they need to make a full set. Each one cuter than the next. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a photo of every set… but here’s a few of them…

So now they’re all done. The campers have had a VERY productive five days. So much fun playing with these talented kids. while they created these little “masterpieces.” Over the weekend, they will all get glazed with clear glaze and go into an electric kiln. The kids will need to come back in a few days to pick up their chess sets.


Categories: workout

Gary fall down go boom.

Actually, it was just me being a klutz. I was in my Cross-fit Class last night. Working out. Sweating it up. We were doing some fast cardio stepping on risers and all was good. It wasn’t until I was “done” and doing a brief walk-around to catch my breath. A whoops… down on the floor!!! I had accidentally stepped on a foam mat we use for sit-ups and floor work. Apparently there were two of them stacked where I stepped. Who knew that they would slip out so easily… like hydro-planing with two mats. I went down so fast, totally on my side… and literally bounced up so quick that no one even noticed it. Not until I was telling my friend Alison what had happened and I said my hand hurt the most. Like I had hyper-extended something. It wasn’t until this morning that I saw the bruising!!!

I’m generally very good about “protecting” my hands during class… but who knew a simple foam mat would get me?! Methinks that wedging clay might be a bot painful now for a few days. Oh well… I’ve done worse.

Categories: sunrise

Who says panoramic photos need to be horizontal???… not me.

Categories: bike, sunrise

Clear skies.
Rippled reflections.
Another beautiful morning… AND I found a dime!!!