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


Vickie Fikse

December 30th, 2020

Are you selling the Row The Boat platters? If so what is the price?

January 18th, 2021

HEY VICKIE – I am not currently selling ROW THE BOAT platters. It was a special one-of-a-kind commission gift for PJ Fleck. I did make two of them… as a back-up plan in case something went wrong… and the second one I gave to the commissionER as a holiday gift as a Thank You! I will say that they turned out pretty sweet. So there’s always a good chance I might make more???

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