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

Last night in my pottery class, it was my favorite demo of every session!
The night that I teach my students how to make a bowl on purpose, instead of a cylinder gone bad. Starting with a nice smooth curve on the inside… NOT a flat bottom, a corner or a “beginner’s ledge” where the curve should be. So I did a throwing demo to show them the basics… and then sent them back to their wheels to practice making some bowls.

While they were throwing,¬† continued to throw more bowls. Sixteen in total… one full bag of clay… in case you were counting. Once I had all sixteen of them thrown, we reconvened the group for Part Two of the class demo. This is the FUN part. Where I get to show them a bunch of fun little tricks to make them all different. To give them a bit of style & flair! Just some quick tricks to encourage my students to “play” more with their clay. To take some time to make each bowl special & individual to themselves. The wheel basically makes the smooth round bowls… so now they need to mix it up and make them special.

Bowl #1 – FLUTED RIM
Just four simple fluted accents evenly spaced around the rim.

Bowl #2 – FLUTED RIM #2
And if four fluted accents was nice, maybe eight would be even better?!

Bowl #3 – NARROW FLARED RIM
Just a gentle “fold-over” of the rim to flare it down a bit. Keeping a steady finger on the outside about a inch below the rim, and the the inside fingers help “fold” the clay out over that finger.

Bowl #4 – WIDE FLARED RIM
And if a narrow rim was nice, maybe a wider one is even better?
It’s like one of those fancy restaurant bowls where they give you one tiny little scoop of food and charge you a fancy arm & a leg!!!

Bowl #5 – FLUTED & FLARED
So if we like fluted, and we like flared… why not do both.
Flare out the rim first, and then add the fluted accents.

Bowl #6 – FLOWER REMARK
With a small metal dragonscaling tool, just a few little indents makes a cute flower…
a fun little surprise at the bottom of a bowl of soup or ice cream!

Bowl #7 – SPLIT RIM & PINCHED
With the pointed end of my wooden knife, I carefully split the rim and then pinched it back together in eight places. Creates a few good places for glaze to pool and make some great effects in the firing.

Bowl #8 – SPLIT QUADREFOIL
Another split rim, this time “dented” inwards at four places with the side of my wooden knife… creating a clover-like shape. Who says bowls need to be round???... NOT ME!!!

Bowl #9 – SPLIT & DENTED IN & OUT
Another carefully split rim gently “dented” inwards and outwards.

Bowl #10 – FRENCH GREEN SLIP
I introduced my Beginners to the concept of colored slip. And tried to explain to them o=how much easier it is to make a two-color, inside-outside bowl with colored slip, than it is a glazing time. So much easier to get a clean dividing line using slip and a paint brush than trying to dip in a bucket of liquid glaze. The other benefit of a nice, solid covering of colored slip is that I can do some decorative carving through the slip to reveal a pattern in the base clay color.

Bowl #11 – COLORED SLIP SPIRAL
After making a solid layer of French Green slip, I used the end of a wooden paintbrush through it while the bowl was spinning – easily creating this spiral pattern.

Bowl #12 – FINGER SQUIGGLES
Everyone loves finger painting… so I filled this bowl with a layer of thick white slip. And then while the bowl was spinning, I stick in a finger and did a little squiggle. I love how the thick white slip creates some depth & waves which will play well in the glazing process.

Bowl #13 – CHATTERING
After another later of thick white slip, I used a green rubber rib to create a chattered repetitive pattern. Spin the bowl nad tap the rib up & down from the center up tthe side. And breath… don’t panic. Once you’ve started, keep going. Don’t freak out!!!

Bowl #14 – OMBRE
Just a smooth gradation of color from French Green to White. At this point it’s smooth color… but there’s a good chance there may be some sgraffito carving though this later when it gets to be leatherhard.

Bowl #15 – BANDED OMBRE
Another gradation of French Green to White slip… and then a couple bands taken out with the wooden end of a paintbrush. And I’m kinda diggin’ the groovy spiral swirl at the bottom!!!

Bowl #16 – THE FINAL BOWL
When we got down to the last bowl, I encouraged my teaching assistant Susan to do the last bowl. She did a bit of denting, pinching & curving to give the bowl a pretty cool shape.

So for now they’re all up in my studio under wraps.
There’s a “pretty good chance” that there may be some stamping & detailing
in their not so distant future. Just guessing….

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1 Comment

Hette

July 15th, 2018

Never a dull bowl…

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