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

My wheelthrowing students keep asking how they can improve. They want better control of their clay. They want to get the shapes they’re hoping for. So in this week’s class, I offered up my “Throwing With Intention Challenge.” So we started with a discussion about how important it is to know what you want to make from the very start. As early as cutting off the right sized piece of clay. And then centering it into a good shape. I encourage a taller ball of centered clay if you’re going to throw a vertical form. Whereas a lower, flatter centered piece of clay is ideal for plates & platters. We then discussed how they should have a “design”in their mind of what they want their form to look like. And the benefit of sketching pieces first, or keeping a scrapbook of images & forms.

And then the challenge began. They each drew a piece of paper which had a challenge on it. They needed to throw the shape on the sheet as best as they could. Keeping in mind edges, curves, proportions, etc. I purposefully put a thin grid behind the drawings to help point out the geometric-ness and proportions they should strive for. They then sat down to throw their “chosen” cylinder with intention!!! With a good plan from the start… instead of slapping down some clay, spinning the wheel and seeing what you get!

Most of them enjoyed the challenge. And each of them struggled, but succeeded in their own way. It was great to see them embracing the challenge and refining their skills. Little do they know… but this challenge will most likely be repeated again… and again… and again…



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