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

So does it mean anything when you come home and find a large moth flying around inside your condo?! Sure, the weather has gotten cold… so who wouldn’t want to come inside somewhere warm. I get it. Sadly, he’s been ushered back outside into the cold… and my sweaters are already thanking me.

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: animals, inspiration, nature, photography

With Summer coming all-too-quickly to an end, and a BEAUTIFUL day last Wednesday, I decided to take the day off and play hooky!!! I drove up to Rock Cut State Park in Rockford.

We used to go camping there all the time as kids, so it was a bit of a flashback! Such a beautiful day hiking around the lake a couple times… logging in some good miles of beautiful scenery… and a very relaxing & much needed day off!

And after a LOT of beautiful scenery… of course we had to have a bit of reality! Which of course is totally fine by me… I have a strange attraction to roadkill. The whole “circle of life” thing I guess.

Categories: animals, nature

Smoke in the sky… feathers in the sand.

Categories: animals, Chicago, nature

On my way home, I also saw this guy cooling off at Jackson Harbor. Always fun to see a Great Blue Heron hanging out in the water fishing. Keenly watching the water waiting for breakfast! I’m always amazed at how large they are, kinda prehistoric… and that we have them in the City?!

Categories: animals, soda-fired, stamped, textures

Celebrating a little TEXTURE TUESDAY with these stamped & soda-fired pieces! Loving the color, the soda “orange peel” finish… oh yeah, and the shadow!!!

Categories: animals, nature

So I met a friend down along Montrose Harbor this morning while taking pictures of the clouds moving in! And by friend, I mean a high-spirited squawking & chirping red-wing backbird making quite a ruckus to show me I was in HIS area… and should move along… complete with a flew “fly-by’s” as he swooped around my helmet!

Categories: animals, bike

Still on our bikes Friday… and yet another reason to STOP!!! I mean, how many times do you get to stop and see a flock of emu running around?! Crazy cool birds – so odd, pretty ugly & kinda prehistoric! All good reasons to stop my bike to see the emus!!!

Categories: animals, bike, flowers, friends, nature

While the clouds roll through today, it was a beautifully sunny day yesterday… perfect for a bike ride up to where the “path ends” and back again. Such a pretty day pedaling north to the Great Lakes Naval Base, through Fort Sheridan, Openlands Lakeshore Preserve, the Chicago Botanic Garden and the Chicago River North Branch Trail.

Great fun to find my friends Allison & Terry at Openlands…
while he was busy trying to balance more rocks along the lakefront!

Categories: animals, bike, nature

With the past couple days of rain, and a LOT of rain
it was no surprise that much of the North Branch Bike Trail was FLOODED!!!

But the weather this afternoon was so nice that I couldn’t let a little “closed” sign deter me too much! But a lot of the bike trail and its surrounding areas were flooded… new ponds & streams where they’re not supposed to be! Still a great ride if you know how to work around the floods… and always fun to see the deer hanging out along the way!