Gary Jackson: Fire When Ready Pottery
A Chicago potter’s somewhat slanted view of clay & play
Categories: handbuilding, lillstreet, summer camp

To kick-off Chess Camp Week, we have a discussion about the chess set, playing chess and how we’ll be making a full set of chess pieces in one week! And that they need to come up with a theme for their set… who is battling who???

We then do some basic handbuilding demos… score, slip, attach, repeat!!! And that everything thicker than their pinky has to be hollow! And that any mess they make, they need to clean up…. also know as Gary’s Summer Camp Rule #3!

And then the fun begins… lots of handbuilding, lots of pieces!!!

While they’re building all of their chess pieces, we also start working on painting their chess boards. We use a large sheet of wood so they can draw out their grid and paint it all with acrylic paint. We do it in stages, one color at a time… letting the first color dry overnight before tackling the second color.

Once we finish making all of the chess pieces, we started painting all of them with colorful underglazes. Once they’re done painting, their pieces will be glazed by one of our Lillstreet Monitors with a clear glaze to make the colors a bit more vibrant & colorful.

As they’re painting, we do occasionally have some “breakage” along the way… typically where there was not any scoring & slipping. I try to tell them that they will fall apart if they’re not careful… but sometimes it takes a bit of breakage to prove the point. Luckily, they have time to build a few back-up pieces! And if you look closely, sometimes there’s no scoring & slipping to be seen… even though the kids “profess” that they did score & slip!!! But the evidence shows otherwise!

So here are a few of our “finished” sets…
drying and ready to be glazed with clear glaze and fired!
Sadly, we were running so close to the deadline on Friday, that I didn’t get a chance to get photos of all the sets. We were still building a few “replacement” pieces & painting with underglaze as the parents were arriving to pick up their kids!!!

With many of the planets represented… including a “lot” of Mercury’s as pawns???

Sometimes the themes aren’t so apparent… but as long as the kids LOVE them, I’m okay with it! Like this one… if you look closely, there are some “logos” of the superheroes… and then birds are supposed to be Robins!… get it???

Complete with fire hydrant & mouse pawns!

Yes, a bit of an “odd” theme… but he was excited about it. And had a perfect plan to make it all happen. Even when I made suggestions… he had a great rationale as to why he wanted it THIS way! So he made it his own way… which he loved, as he could “see the vision” even if I struggled a bit.

Yes, frequently the kids want to make their theme based on a video game. And since I don’t do video games, I’m at a loss for words & ideas! Again… as long as he knew what he was making and had a good plan… I’m in!

And as part of Summer Camp Rule #3
We need to make sure the kids lift by the sides of the jars of underglaze… or at least make sure that they lids are screwed on really tight. Because if we don’t… THIS happens!!! Luckily, the kids are ready to do the cleaning. It’s all part of “the fun” of Summer Camp with Gary!!!

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