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

Someone is already “thinking green” during the cold whiteness of winter. My Peoria friends showing off more of their pottery collection… including some very “vintage” pottery I made way back before I “met” stamping… notice the layered slip decoration on the set of bowls in the bottom right corner! I remember being so proud of those bowls back in the day. Ha!!!

Categories: classes, stamps

Towards the end of class Tuesday night, we had a little “free time” to sit around, chat and make a bunch of new stamps. Once bisqued, I can’t wait to see what magic my students make with their new stamps!

Categories: classes, food

This week in my Tuesday night pottery class, we were treated with even MORE OREO’s!!!
This time with three new flavors “imported” from Thailand.
Thanks Kate for making class just a little “sweeter.”

Categories: artists, inspiration, sculpture

“Don’t lose your old self”…
thin 2D wire sculpture flying high from a power line on Damen & North in Bucktown.

So much better than the sadly more typical pair of hanging shoes!


Categories: mugs, porcelain, process, production, stamped

Back in the studio making my favorite thing… MORE MUGS!!!
Finally getting around to finishing up the porcelain cylinders & threw & stamped last week. So I started by trimming the stamped cylinders now that they are leatherhard. After trimming, I put them back under plastic so they don’t dry out too much.

Then I pulled handles for all of them with some more porcelain. I like to set them up with the handle-curve already established.

When the handles set-up enough to work with them, and they’re no longer squishy,
I cut out the section of the handle I want to use.
A bit of scoring & slipping for the top attachment… score both sides, slip on one.

A little smoosh.. a little smudge… and a little wiggle to get it to attach well.

After smoothing the top of the handle into the mug, I then do the same to the bottom
attachment of the handle. I like to do the top one first so I can actually “see”
the curves & proportions of the handle as I attach the bottom…
cutting, altering and changing things along the way.

A little blending… a little smoothing…
until it looks like it part of the mug, and not just slapped on the side!

Score… Slip… Attach… Smooth… Repeat…
Score… Slip… Attach… Smooth… Repeat…
Score… Slip… Attach… Smooth… Repeat…

Soon enough the batch of mugs was complete.
All cylinders stamped, trimmed and now well-handled!

Even better from the side… at least I think so…

And for now they’re under wraps for the night…
so that the moisture levels can even-out a bit before I open them up to dry!



Categories: Chicago

Another beautiful, albeit very chilly, day down on The Pier. It started out a bit gray & dreary & cold… and ended up with nothing but blue skies… and still very cold!!!


And a nice treat at the end of the day… a beautiful sunset skyline from the north doc of Navy Pier

Categories: blogs, special events

Okay, so I may be a little late to the game..
but here’s my INSTAGRAM BEST NINE posts for 2018.

Don’t forget you can always get a quick “dose” of my crazy life on Instagram…
find me at “firewhenreadypottery”… tough to remember, right?!
Very similar to my Facebook posts, just quicker, cropped, filtered and quirky!
And the blog posts are always “real photos” and longer stories!

THANK YOU to those of you who have already been following on Instagram.


Fun to see that one of my favorite tools from DiamondCore Tools showed up…
as well as my favorite Christmas gift to myself from Airtight Artwork!!!

It was a great year for me… hope yours was too!


Categories: Chicago, special events

What do you get when you put together over a million translucent balls?…
THE BEACH… an interactive new art installation now at Navy Pier!

As the snow came down and made the City white yesterday, it was so much fun to play at THE BEACHwhich was coincidentally also WHITE?!!! So much fun playing with my “Elves” with a sneak peek before it opened to the public. Over a million balls of fun – now at Navy Pier through February 3rd... and it’ s FREE!!!

For more information about THE BEACH at Navy Pier… click here!



Categories: bowls, classes

This week my students really worked it in the Lillstreet Throwdown class. They came into class with their “two matching bowls now trimmed” from last week. Thinking we were going to start with those right away… Oh, but wait… I had another game plan!!!

First we did a quick challenge at the handbuilding tables. I had them each pull a 2-pound slab of clay to make a rectangular slab. The they were challenged to FREEHAND cut with an Xacto four basic shapes. No rulers. No stencils. To templates. Just the Xacto and their best guessimating skills! They were challenged to cut a 5-inch circle. a 4-inch square, a 3-inch equillateral triangle and a 2×10-inch rectangle. Closest ones win points!

Then we pulled out their bowls from last week. Ah ha... back to the expected challenge. They pulled out their “now matching more than before” bowls. We all looked at them, compared them and critiqued some of their strengths & weaknesses. We picked to winners… and then I surprised them with another twist!!! They were to choose one of their bowls to carve a pattern through creating a basket of sorts. They had about an hour and a half for the challenge… which sounded like a lot of time but it flew by fast!

And here’s the REAL challenge…
they had to carve away at least half of the bowl’s weight.
And yes, we actually weighted them before & after!

Grab your tools… grab your bowl… and GO!!!

And then they started carving… and carving… and carving…

And they just kept cutting… just kept carving… so quiet… so focused…

Some of them even pulled out their “fancy” carving tools from DiamondCore Tools. Jake & Dave first tried these in my class when I shared them… and they QUICKLY fell in love with them!!! So now they’ve really “stepped-up their carving games” and now are enjoying the sharp, clean line quality of Diamond Core Tools. Dave may have stepped-up his game… but he also sat-down for the challenge… ON THE FLOOR!!!

And then the carving continued… many of them checking their progress on the scale. Only to find out that they haven’t taken out nearly as much clay as they had thought!!! Realizing that they still have a LONG way to go!!!

Just a few moments before the buzzer went off….
just a few more cuts… just a few more holes…

And then we put the finished bowls down on the table for discussion, critique, judging and admiration! The carved bowls were AMAZING… but I was truly mesmerized by the shadows they created on the tables!

And then the comparison & show-off contest began… as everyone brought their bowls to the table and the class discussion began. Everyone loved the challenge even though it really pushed them out of their comfort zones!!!

A wonderful collection of freshly-carved bowls!!! So many great designs, so much effort & patience. So much for ME to watch all of them working their way through the challenge!

And the Top Two winners?…
Teresa with her elegant “octagonally-carved” bowl…
and Ryan with his bowls full of holes! Not much soup is going to stay in either one?!!!

So that’s it for another wonderful Throwdown class… and it’s only Week Two!!!







Categories: mugs, porcelain, process, production, stamped, stamps

Stamping… leaving an impression…
or two, or three, or more in the porcelain!