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

Just got home from a wonderful weekend in Minneapolis for NCECA 2019…. the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts. A lot of pottery, inspirations, shopping and meeting up with a lot of other pottery friends!! More photos & stories to come!!!

As an added bonus… it was a BEAUTIFUL weather weekend in Minneapolis! So I made sure to get outside to see some of the sights outside of the Convention Center too!


Categories: classes, lillstreet

Every challenge needs winners… and ribbons.. and a TROPHY!!! Right?
After twenty-eight challenges in just 10 weeks of class, we finally have some winners!!!
And surprisingly, we were just a dozen points difference between the top three places!!!

First off… the ribbons… all well-deserved in my book at least!!!

So let’s break it down a little bit more…

BEST TAG-TEAM – Patti & Jon


And now for the TOP WINNERS!!!


SECOND PLACE – we had a tie!!!…. TAYLOR & TATIANA

And for the BIG WINNER… a TROPHY TOO!!!

And our BIG WINNER!!!

as the “dark horse” and the only primarily handbuilder in the class. I must admit I was questioning if she would be able to keep up with the wheelthrowers… but she SHINED!!! Her creativity, boundless enthusiasm, and willingness to try anything made her the winner!!!

Huge thanks to all of my wonderful students this session! I had so much fun “playing” with all of you this session! Thank you for always sucking it up and playing along with the challenges. Thanks for the camaraderie & supportive nature you all brought to the class. I’ve always thought that pottery classes should be fun, social and community building… and we’ve proven once again that they can be! Thanks again for the great class.


Left to right, kind of… David, Teresa, Jacob, Molly, Ryan, Tatiana, Taylor, Jon, Claire, Donna, Patti and Susan! You guys were the BEST!!!



Categories: classes, process, production

It was the last night of class, and we had already critiqued & judged the final project…. but I still had one more trick up my sleeves. With two of my studetns getting married this Spring, and wanting to make ceramic vases to share with all of their guests… I figured what better way than with a THROWDOWN assembly line?! So we all buckled down and started cranking out as many vases as we could during the remainder of class. Everyone had a great time working & chatting together. A perfect way to end our class!

And our lovely “hand model” Susan…

And here’s Jacob, the Groom-To-Be, putting some final touches on a cylinder by carving some patterns into it with our favorite DiamondCore Carving Tool.

And here’s Molly, the Bride-To-Be, who “apparently” didn’t get the memo that they were all making small vases out of extruded tubes?! What’s with that???

And here they are by the end of class… approximately half of what they’re hoping to get finished in the next month or so… as the wedding is later this Spring!!!



Categories: classes, creativity

After the HUGE success of the BEATLES Salt & Pepper Shakers…
I decided that we should stick with the theme… and go for The Beatles again!
But this time I allowed them to choose their own song… which many of them said was tougher than when they were assigned… but the “final twist” was that they needed to make a sugar & creamer set with a tray this time!

DAVIDkind of amazing as this is David’s FIRST lidded jar!

SUSANsimple & subtle as the “nestle” together… spooning… snuggling…

DONNAlove the addition of the copper border… although I would have liked it as a street.

CLAIRE simple & clean

PATTIand yes, that green pattern is completely carved away by hand! CRAZY COOL!!!

MOLLYrecognize the sugar bowl?… it’s a sphere from last week’s sphere trowing challenge!

RYANcontinuing his theme… of “spice” packets… remember, it started with pepper!

TERESA loving the details on the sugar… the windshield wipers are killin’ me!!!

JACOB – Simplicity in black & white…

TATIANAlovely surface decoration depicting all parts & lyrics in her song.

And now for our TOP TWO!!!

TAYLORonce again utilizing the extruder!

JONincredible “animation” & whimsy… and his first ever hand-built human sculpture!

 Wondering what some of the Beatles song themes are?…
and I apologize for missing a couple… I’ll add them soon!

DAVID – Lucy In The Sky With Diamondsthe lid’s knob is a diamond

SUSAN – The Ballad of John & Yokoas seen in the infamous photo spooning in bed.

DONNA – Penny Lane

CLAIRE – The White Album


MOLLY – Let It Beas in don’t decorate it… just “let it be.”

RYAN – Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Bandcontinuing his S&P theme of packets.

TERESA – Ticket To Ride

JACOB – The Long & Winding Road

TATIANA – Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds

TAYLOR – Obla-Di, Obla-Da

JON – Yellow Submarine – AND – Nowhere Man


And now that we’re “revealed’ the themes & the challenge winners…
Let’s take a closer look at Tatiana’s.. and the crazy attention-to-detail
she used in representing her song.

Picture yourself in a boat on a river
With tangerine trees and marmalade skies.
Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly,
A girl with kaleidoscope eyes.

Cellophane flowers of yellow and green
Towering over your head.
Look for the girl with the sun in her eyes
And she’s gone.

Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds, ah, ah

Follow her down to a bridge by the fountain
Where rocking horse people eat marshmallow pies.
Everyone smiles as you drift past the flowers
That grow so incredibly high.

Newspaper taxis appear on the shore
Waiting to take you away
Climb in the back with your head in the clouds 
And you’re gone.

Picture yourself on a train in a station
With plasticine porters with looking glass ties,
Suddenly someone is there at the turnstile,
The girl with kaleidoscope eyes.


Well done Tatiana!





Categories: classes, process

NOTE : This should have been posted a few weeks back, but I didn’t want to reveal
t0o much too soon for my students! I didn’t want to ruin the surprise!

Well, we’ve been having a great session of classes & challenges in the Second Annual LILLSTREET THROWDOWN!!! And since we were nearing the finish… I knew that I had to have a prize for the winner, right. You can’t have a competition class with a bunch of great people working hard and paying all of your silly games without a trophy for the winner!!! So I made one…

And then I went out and bought some gold spray paint… thank you Rust-oleum!!!

And since I made this a month or so ago… during The Polar Vortex…
it was SO COLD out that I had to turn on the flame throwing heater to make sure the spray paint would dry correctly. It’s always better when you have access to great power tools!!!

Sure, the gold paint was pretty, but… every trophy should “sparkle” a bit, right?

So there it is… the trophy for onw lucky winner in the LILLSTREET THROWDOWN!!! Now we just need to find out who will have accrued the most points throught the session to win this distinction!!!



Categories: friends, inspiration, mugs, soda-fired, stamped

HAPPY MUGSHOT MONDAY… with another fun surprise
seeing one of my stamped mugs featured in a friend’s Instagram Story!
Thanks Allison for sharing YOUR good energy!!!

Categories: process, production, stamped

Yep, it’s been a BUSY day… and all went well in the studio this afternoon.
All pitchers stamped, trimmed & handles attached. Under plastic for the night,
as I still want to add a layer of colored flashing slip accents on them all tomorrow!

Categories: Chicago, flowers

And while I was at Marshall Field’s… yes, confusing, but… I decided to stop in for a quick trip through the “Macy’s” Flower Show which has an outer space theme this year! They had a few cute displays, with a couple cute aliens peeking out here & there. Unfortunately I was slight underwhelmed this year. Although I do always enjoy the color floral displays contrasting against the classic columns & architecture inside.

Categories: Chicago

After the SHAMROCK SHUFFLEand after brunch with some “shuffling” friends…
I walked past the Marshall Field’s clock on my way to the red-line “L” train.
The vintage clock is a beautiful Chicago landmark…
and yes, it will ALWAYS be Marshall Field’s to me!!!

Categories: Chicago, sculpture

Beautiful relief sculptures on the sides of the drawbridge houses on Michigan Avenue where it crosses the Chicago River.