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

The new session of pottery classes are well under way…
so it only makes sense that we have NEW OREO’s too!!!

Thanks to Kate for finding these new flavors and bringing them in for us to enjoy!
Yummy & yummier!!!

Categories: patterns, textures

Another texture for Texture Tuesday… totally tubular… bonus!!!


Categories: patterns, soda-fired, stamped, textures

Another Texture Tuesday two-fer!!! One stamped & soda-fired…
another colorfully withering away


Categories: production, stamped

Spring is going to get here eventually…
so I’m making sure that I’ll have some flower pots ready to go!
More throwing… more stamping… making homes for more plants!!!

Categories: stamped, stamps

Working in the studio tonight doing a little stamping.
Looks like more mugs in the making. Go figure.

Categories: bowls, process

Don’t you just hate coming into the studio and finding “that” bowl sitting on a shelf to set up a bit… while all the timing telling yourself this is a bad idea so far out of the way… and then totally forgetting to trim it or wrap it up before going home!!! Done. Dry.

And sure, it was already stamped & detailed. Of course.

Categories: mugs, soda-fired, stamped

Stamped & soda-fired for Mugshot Monday.

Categories: summer camp, terra cotta

On this week’s episode on THE GREAT POTTERY THROW DOWN, the potters had to do some handbuilding to build a complete chess set! They had 4-1/2 hours to build them all, and then another 3-1/2 hours to glaze them after bisque firing. And the whole time I was watching the show, I kept thinking about how great my Summer Camp kids are… and that many of them have done the same project as these adults on the show. And then I realized that I never posted pictures from last summer’s camp!!! So here we go… a fun flashback to last summer when my campers cranked out their Chess Sets in one week of fun!!!

We always start the camp with some discussion of rules & expectations… followed by some fun brainstorming to come up wth the themes the kids will be using to make their chess sets. Once they have their set all planned out, I do some demos for them to show off some basic handbuilding skills they’re going to need. And then I set them loose!!! Eyes on the prize… they need to stay focused as we start building & cranking out all of their pieces.

We continued building their pieces… as well as RE-building a few of them that might have fallen apart overnight as they dried. I mean, I keep telling the kids that they MUST score & slip everything really well or they will fall apart with they dry. Frequently a couple of them will think they know better… until they come back on Tuesday to see some of their pieces fell off… from NOT scoring & slipping! Told ya’ so!!!

We started the day with working on their chess boards. They had to decide what colors they wanted to go along twith their chess set theme. And then today’s goal was to paint the first set of squares.

They’ve also made more pieces today… working towards our goal of having all (or at least most) of their pieces completed by the end of the day.

We started the day with finishing up the painting of their chess boards…

And then returned back to the pieces… as we started lining up all of their pieces in the right order so they could see how their chess sets are really coming together! As they completed construction, I had them start painting with underglazes. Unfortunately, as they are painting their pieces, occasionally something mght break off if they’re not careful enough… or if something wasn’t scored & slipped well. So along the way, there are some repairs & rebuilds that happen too!!!

At several points throughout the day, I had to remind them that the underglazes
was supposed to go on their pieces… and NOT the table!!!

The final day… and always a LOT still to finish! By the end of class they need to have all 32 pieces consturcted & underglazed. I also encourage them all to make a few “extras” in case something breaks along the way… whether in the kiln or at home paying the game! It’s always so much fun at the end to see all of their themes really coming together!

And then we carefully put them all on the rolling studio cart… very carefully…
So proud of my Summer Campers and all of the hard work they put in this week!!!

So for now they’re sitting on the cart ready to be glazed. One of our studio monitors will carefully glaze them all with a low-fire clear glaze and fire them. The kids will just have to wait a few more days to get their AMAZING Chess Sets back!!!




Categories: pottery, television, YouTube

Last night I watched the second episode of THE GREAT POTTERY THROW DOWN
season three… and loved watching as the creative Brits were challenged to make ceramic chess sets.

Click here to watch the second episode on YouTube!



Categories: clay, process, studio

So my reclaim pile of clay has been sitting on my plaster bat for awhile…
as the extra moisture settles out and the clay stiffens up. It was still a bit sticky to the touch, but firm enough to get started with the cutting, wedging & bagging part of the process. I start by shaving off large chunks of the clay with my wire tool.

You can see that my reclaim clay mixture is just that… a MIXTURE.
I am more than willing to mix-up all of my assorted reclaim scraps. I will add in any kind of clay as long as it’s a high-fire cone 10 clay body. So you can see there are still some sections of porcelain, darker, ochre clay, lighter B-clay, some organic grayness… and unexpectedly, some blemishes of terra cotta red that must have gotten in there accidentally. Luckily, there wasn’t a lot… so I figure it will just blend in and add a bit of iron-richness to the clay… and it won’t affect the final firing temperature of the mixed clay.

Cause after all… as I tell my students… IT’S JUST CLAY!!!

I take the large chunks and lay them out on my wedging table so the canvas can soak out some more of the extra moisture. I do a very brief wedging of the clay, and then shave off layers and re-stack them into small piles.

I take the stacked piles, cut them in half and stack them back on themselves. Cut the stack in half and layer them on top of themselves again. Repeat a couple times and the layers begin to get thinner & thinner as the clay mixes evenly. It’s a LOT quicker & easier than just straight wedging. The layers squish together easily with a little bit of gravity & slamming down on the table to help along the way!

A bit of quick wedging, and then I set it aside to carve off another chunk from my reclaim pile.
Piece by piece… slice by slice… chunk by chunk…

As I wedge up the piles, the clay is still a bit wetter than I want, so I throw them out stretched as a quick slab… and stand them up so they get some extra air exposure.

Some more wedging of the pieces and they get placed in clear bags. I don’t worry too much about a “perfect” wedging at this point, as I know I will do more wedging when I get around to actually using the clay.

So after a couple hours of cutting, layering & wedging…
I now have well over a hundred pounds of reclaimed clay.
FREE CLAY just from a little work… my favorite kind of clay!!!