Gary Jackson: Fire When Ready Pottery
A Chicago potter’s somewhat slanted view of clay & play
Categories: process, production, terra cotta, The Ghouls Collection

Now they’re starting to look a bit more like pumpkins… but now they’re gonna need to get some personality… and maybe some warts too?!!! Would love to keep going but I’ve gotta teach class tonight… so the “pumpkinizing” will continue tomorrow!

Categories: animals, lillstreet, sculpture, summer camp

After finishing their Robert Indiana inspired letter sculptures… and sending them off to the kiln!… my Summer Campers re-focused to start their new larger sculptures! We discussed options & ideas with a little bit of brainstorming. Then we covered how were going to build them… discussing process, materials and options. We all worked together to finalize our plans, and the kids drew pictures of their sculptures.

We then started building the basic structure & inner armatures for their sculptures. I helped them with the structure and power tools… but it was their creativity & inspiration that led the way. After building their armatures, they set-off on filling them in & bulking them out with lots of newspaper & masking tape. Their challenge was make it look as much like their “intended” sculpture with minimal supplies. A lot of crumpling, folding & taping in place.

After filling the armatures, we started covering the newspaper with a thin layer of plaster gauze. Think “industrial-strength” paper mache! It’s the same stuff they make plaster casts out of at the hospitals. A bit of water, several sheets of plaster gauze… and they were able to add an outer layer to their sculptures.

After a full day of working with plaster gauze, we were ready to clean-up for the day! Yes… back to Gary’s Summer Camp Rule #3... “Whatever mess you make, you WILL be cleaning up!” So they did… on their hands & knees scrubbing the floor to get the plaster dust & splatters off the floor before it dried too much.

The next day, we came back to the plaster gauze… this time adding details, patterns & textures. The goal was to make them as “realistic” as they could… and easily identifiable for what their plan was. The perfect chance to bring their sculpture to life!

After building the sculptures and getting them to dry overnight, we started painting them with acrylic paints. So much fun to see them really come to life in technicolor!!! And a little bit of color-theory… as they only go primary colors to work with. They needed to mix & blend their own special colors!

On Friday, while the paint dried on their sculptures, we pulled together a quick Gallery Show Opening Reception. I had them make a large poster for the door to our classroom, as well as small “art gallery tags” to put next to their artworks. Basically just a show for their parents as they came to pick-up their kids. Tough to do while keeping the quantity of people in our classroom down to a small number. But we did it… and the kids LOVED showing off their work in their ART GALLARY (sp)!!!

So here are most of the final sculptures in our ART GALLARY (sp)…

AVERY – Desert Cactus Flower

CICI – Red Fox

FELIX – Koala Bear

ORI – Quilted Bed

TALI – Magical Pegasus

JANE – Colorful Peacock

Another great week… kicking off what will hopefully be a great Summer at Lillstreet. This whole panademic crisis has been so weird for all of us… it just felt AMAZING to be back teaching the kids in-person. Hoping that the whole summer goes by without incident at Lillstreet. I think this week went smoothly… and we all learned a LOT about how to teach a class of kids during these times of Covid-19.


Categories: artists, handbuilding, sculpture, summer camp

So we started with a little “art introduction” of sculptor Robert Indiana and his works. We discussed his style, design & concept…. and they all got excited to build their first sculpture based on his work. So the challenge for each of them was to build a large version of this sculpture using their own names!!! A LOT of handbuilding… but I was confident they could do it!!!

The campers started by drawing out the letters for their names. I encouraged them to have some sort of style & design… like maybe adding serifs to the letters?! Then the kids started making their slabs and cutting out their large letters. To make them a 3-dimensional letter, they needed to cut-out two of every letter to make the front & back.

Some of them were so pleased with their letters… and even the canvas covered boards that they worked on. Making an overlapped letter outline masterpiece!!!

After a quick demo on how to assemble their letters, they all set off for a LOT of scoring & slipping! I kept telling them that I can “pretty much guarantee” that of they don’t score & slip… their piece will fall apart! So they were all very diligent with their assembly!

At the end of Day One, I made sure that my campers did a full cleaning of their workspaces. Each kid with their own dedicated space to be safely distant from the other campers. And as part of Rule #3… whatever mess they make, THEY will be cleaning up… and that includes the FLOOR!!!

After stacking & assembling their name letter sculptures, the kids started painting them with glaze. It’s a special glaze that we use for some of our Summer Camp projects. They can paint it on “raw” terra cotta for a single firing. The colors will be darker & shiny when they come out of the kiln!

FAST FORWARD TO FRIDAY : The Last Day of Sculpture Camp
And also the day that the kid’s sculptures came out of the kiln. Always exciting when there are no “explosions” or severe breakage during the firings. Sure, we may have lost a couple feet off the bottoms… but everything still stood up well. And maybe next time they’ll remember to score & slip a little better?!

NEXT UP : My Summer Campers had to shift gears to start another sculpture for the rest of their week. This time, much larger and made with plaster gauze!!!

Categories: process, production, terra cotta, wheelthrowing

Throwing some quick rounded cylinders that will “grow” into pumpkins as they move through the process! I made a few different sizes… including some smaller ones, as smaller is sometimes cuter! And who doesn’t like a “cute” pumpkin???

Categories: process, production, studio, terra cotta

Getting ready to “grow”… errr, throw… some new pumpkins in my studio today! Starting with some terra cotta… getting ready to make a fun & muddy mess today!

Categories: food, garden, pottery, stamped

So I have a little “situation” going on at home?! I purchased a sweet potato with plans to cook it up with dinner one night. But things got busy… and I kinda forgot about it a bit. And then THIS happened?!

No water… no roots… just these crazy cool sprouts!!!

So… do I let it go?…
do I put it in water and call it a new houseplant?…
or do I try to cut these off and see if it’s still edible?!

Categories: lillstreet, summer camp, wheelthrowing

So now we’re two weeks into the Fall Session of classes at Lillstreet… but I’m still not over Summer!!! Nor am I over the fun we had a Summer Camp this year. Sure, it was a little “different” for all of us to keep everyone safe, masked & socially-distant. But still… it was just a little bit of “normal” that just made me happy every day! I mean, who doesn’t love working with kids, teaching life lessons & making art every day?!

So… every day this coming week I’ll be featuring another week of Summer Camp 2020! Get ready for a week full of Summer Camp Flashbacks… so much fun!


Categories: art fair, artists, collaborations

One of the highlights of ART IN THE GARDEN is that the artists get to play together & collaborate on some cool projects. One of collaborations this year was this batch of porcelain soda-fired jars that I made and other artists added their own “artist-styled” knobs to the tops

Well, a couple weeks have gone by since ART IN THE GARDEN, and I’ve been sitting here with a few of the collaboration jars waiting to be photographed & posted here online for sale. I’ve been playing hooky a bit too much lately while it’s been so nice outside… but the clouds have come over Chicago so I finally got my act together today! Here are a few “teaser” photos of the nine collaboration jars that will go up for sale only on my Fire When Ready Pottery Facebook page at 6:00pm CST. It will be first come, first served when the “official” Photo Album is posted. So set an alarm reminder to check them out at 6:00pm tonight!

Click here to go to my Fire When Ready Pottery Facebook page!

Categories: bike, sunrise

Plenty of clouds & plenty of wind. It was a little windy from the west this morning… making it feel a bit like a headwind in both directions! But worth the extra effort with this kind of sunrise glory! Beautiful colors splashing across the sky!

Categories: flowers, garden

And for those of you following my flowering houseplants… apparently this has been identified as a “Christmas Carol” aloe plant… and the flowers don’t really do much more than open up at the end of each tube, and then wither away?! Still pretty cool plant… love the red spiky edges on the leaves!