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

From the safety of my sofa, wishing all of you a safe, healthy & socially-distanced New Years Eve. No celebration going on here… okay, maybe more movies & more pie… but I’m definitely ready to start a New Year!!! We’ve all been through a lot this year… I’m done! Good riddance 2020. I’m ready for a better year. Bring it on 2021.

Categories: food, holiday

Celebrating safely-at-home with my newest 2020 holiday tradition! This is my THIRD holiday celebrating with Bake-A-Pie & Eat-A-Pie!!! And sure, I coulda left that one last piece for tomorrow…

But why stop at one piece… after THIS year, I think we all deserve two pieces… and ice cream too!!! Congrats on making it through this crumbly-crust of a year!!!

Categories: holiday

Looking back at 2020…
and I am MORE than ready to move on!
It was quite a year… like none other!

It’s hard to believe that 2020 has kinda slipped by so quickly, and yet dragged on so long. I’m hoping for good things in 2021… but who knows what that really means?! Fingers crossed for brighter days… when we can all get back to work, get together with our family & friends, open restaurants, live theater, organized bike rides & triathlons, so many things… and maybe, just maybe… eventually get rid of the masks?!!!

Categories: friends, platters, pottery

Special occasions require special pottery…
looks like a very festive dinner planned to celebrate the end of the year!
Thanks for sharing Gerry & Rosene… and here’s to a better New Year!!!

Categories: nature, seasons

Last day of the year.
Last chance for an afternoon run before the New Year.

Cautiously stepping, but loving the branch silhouettes
& the sunny reflections shimmering on the ice-crusted snow!

Categories: food, friends, platters

A little late for Santa…
but it looks like someone is planning on milk & cookies for ONE!!!
And I sure hope there’s more cookies where those came from!!!
Thanks for sharing Karen!

Categories: collaborations, family, platters, pottery, stamped

Another one of my super-secret Christmas projects was a commissioned piece for college football coach P.J. Fleck. My brother-in-law Scott is a long-time fan of P.J. Fleck, as well as my pottery, and thought the perfect one-of-a-kind gift for P.J. would be a custom platter with his personal mantra on it.


So I set off on making a large stamped platter. I threw the platter and left the center section smooth… which kinda killed me! You know how much I LOVE a good spiral!!! But with plans to put the logo in the center, I knew I would need a smooth “canvas” to work with.

My brother-in-law Scott is also a commercial printer with access to a vinyl cutter. So he offered to cut a few vinyl stencils for me to work with. Now keep in mind… this is the very first time I’m even trying this technique! I’ve seen others do it… so it’s gotta work, right?!

I started by peeling off the backing and then pressing it smoothly into the center of the platter. I wanted to make sure the edges were attached everywhere… but I was kind of afraid of pressing too hard! I didn’t want to make it hard to peel off later… or even worse, leave any kind of adhesive residue on the platter that might affect the glazing later..

After peeling off the top layer, I filled it all in with some thick underglaze. Kinda piling it on top with a pretty thick layer of color.

When the underglaze was mostly dry… but not totally, I peeled off the vinyl stencil. I was afraid that if it got too dry, it might flake off more while peeling it off. I knew that I wanted to keep it as clean as possible… as I didn’t want to do any clean-up & touch-ups later.

The toughest part was peeling away all of the smaller parts & pieces…
I kept finding more areas that were oddly “glossy” and knew that there was still some vinyl under the underglaze that wasn’t drying!

A little touch-up here & there… but not much at all.

Knowing that I didn’t want to blur the image, I thought my best option would be to spray the glaze over the applied logo design. So I started slowly around the edge. And then gradually sprayed more & more to build up the glaze slowly over time. I don’t do a lot of spraying glazes, so I’m always kind of questioning when I’ve got enough glaze material on the piece. You don’t want too little… but then again too much is bad too!

And then it went into the kiln… with all of my fingers crossed.
Remember, this was my first time doing the vinyl stencil technique… first time using this new brand of underglaze… and unsure of how my glaze I “sprayed” onto the piece… and if the logo would blur out & “melt” during the firing?!!! A lot at risk here…

But… two days later… I opened the kiln to find this!!!

But the real photo that counts is the one where University of Minnesota Head Football Coach P.J. Fleck is showing off his new platter!

That smile says it all.

Categories: family, friends, mugs, pottery

I packed up the pottery “starter sets” and shipped them out… anxiously awaiting The Big Reveal on Christmas! With things being as they are this year… the family “got together” to open their presents online!!! Not the best screen-grabs… but you can kinda see the excitement & joy of their new pottery! With the “gift-givers” a bit blurry, but still in the bottom left corner!

And since then… it’s been fun watching them all start using their new pottery collection! Each of them showing off parts of their new collections!

And Matt has already found “space” on his kitchen display shelves… although methinks he’s going to “need” more shelving pretty darn soon!

Categories: family, friends, holiday, mugs, pottery

Another great Christmas SURPRISE…
I was also asked to make a couple “sets” of pottery for three different families. The parents who requested these “sets” have QUITE the collection of my pottery. They’ve been collecting my work for years… and probably have TOO MUCH if that’s even possible! I know most of their kids have some “random” pieces… a mug here, a bowl there… but not a good “set” of anything!

So the request was to make two bowls, two mugs and two juice cups in three different colors for three different families. They love the stamped patterns… but didn’t want them to be all “matchy-matchy”… so they wanted the stamps to all be different. Similar, but different.

And to make matters worse…
imagine ME not being able to share the photos of these pieces as I was making them!!! I was so careful not to share too much to ruin the surprise! I had fun making the sets… but so tough NOT to show photos along the way!

The “celadon” green set traveled to Kristy & Matt in Wisconsin!

The cobalt blue set went to Karen & Annie in Maryland.

And the green set was delivered to Jody & Ira in Pennsylvania.

And oh, but wait there’s more…
I figured since each of the families was getting a nice “starter set” courtesy of their parents… maybe they needed a plate to go with it too??? Especially since I’ve kinda been “adopted” into the family. I’ve even been referred to as “the favorite son”!!!

A title I’ll gladly take… especially since they only have daughters!

Categories: friends, holiday, platters, pottery

Okay… PART TWO of the story!

With only two flat & two warped soda-fired plates,
I knew that these wouldn’t work for this special order of FOUR.
Especially since I had already decided that these dinner plates
were going to be my friends’ Christmas present!!!

So I quickly threw another set of plates.
Center. Compress. Throw. Spiral. Stamp.

This time knowing that a simple glazed firing would be a lot “safer” for warping this time around. Especially with the Christmas deadline closing in!!! This time I also hedged my bets by making five plates… so I would have a back-up if something went wrong!

I went with a “neutral” glaze combo… one of my cone six glazes. A honey-amber tenmoku looking glaze… I then sprayed a tiny bit of blue glaze around the perimeter to help with the contrast of the stamped impressions.

I was quite pleased when they came out of the glaze firing. The glazes melted and “broke” just right in all the right places. Not only were the stamps highlighted nicely… but that spiral?!!! Beautiful.

And now that Christmas has passed… and gifts have been shared… I can let the “secret” out. I decided to give Gerry & Rosene BOTH sets of plates! Starting with the soda-fired set “as requested” in the special order. They LOVED them!!!… and didn’t seem to care so much about the warping. They know all about the process and the inherent risks!

And then they opened the second package…
with the “replacement” set of glazed plates…
and they LOVED those too!!!

So much so… it brought tears to Rosene’s eyes!
What more could you want from your Christmas gifts!

Mission accomplished.