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

Hard to believe that we’re already planning and scheduling Summer Camps!!!
Winter is finally ending, and I’m just looking forward to Spring.
But these adorable kids make me even more excited to see Summer get here!

The following is my schedule for teaching Summer Camps at Lillstreet Art Center.
I work with the older group of kids who constantly amaze, inspire and entertain me.
Summer camp is a wonderful experience for the kids and teachers who work together on all of the wonderful art projects… and good for the parents who get a few hours off! You can stop by the Front Desk at Lillstreet Art Center, call them or register online for Summer Camps. Registration is already open and filling fast. Click here for online information & registration.

Week C, June 19th-23rd – Wheelthrowing – 9:00am-1:00pm
Five days of fun where we start at the very beginning with wedging, centering & throwing. Kids will learn all of the basics, practice everyday and finish with glazing on Friday.

Week F, July 10th-14th – Chess Camp – 9:00am-3:30pm
Kids will make their own complete chess set out of clay in just five short days. Thematic sets are encouraged, no ordinary Kings, Queens & Rooks here! Actual chess experience is not mandatory… we’ll all learn a bit more along the way! Check?

Week H, July 24th-28thFire, Forge & Feast  – 9:00am-3:30pm
Admittedly the biggest & most fun camp of the whole Summer!!! But enough about me…
In this camp, the kids get to play with me and my friend Pam who teaches the metalsmithing portions. In the five-day camp, kids will design and create a full dinnerware place setting out of clay and metal. A lot of creative design & brainstorming to come up with their amazing themes. Two days of clay, two days of metals, and a lot of Friday fun finishing place settings and celebrating with a class Potluck Lunch!!!

Week I, July 31st-August 4th – Wheelthrowing  – 9:00am-1:00pm
More mud spinning & flinging as the kids learn how to wheelthrow from beginning to end. From wedging to glazing and every “muddy” step along the way!

Week J, August 7th-11th – Sculptures Big to Small  – 9:00am-3:30pm
In this camp the kids will each build their own sculptures after being inspired during a field trip to the Art Institute of Chicago and Millennium Park. A dash of art history will serve them well as they work on their own large-scale masterpieces!

Week K, August 14th-18th – Handbuilding & Wheelthrowing  – 9:00am-1:00pm
At this point in the summer, many campers have already taken a couple camps. Some of them have already thrown on the wheel, some of them have handbuilt pieces with clay. This week we’re going to do both – working to incorporate all of their skills into their pieces.

Week L, August 21st-25th – Wheelthrowing - 9:00am-1:00pm
My last week of Summer Camp will be another fun week of wheelthrowing. Spinning, centering, wedging and laughing… maybe an occasional joke along the way?! A great way to end my summer camp “tour of duty.”

If you’re interested in sending your kids to Summer Camp at Lillstreet, click here for their website. And then sign the kids up fast…. spaces are filling quickly!!!

It’s a “shame” that kid’s don’t like playing with clay?!!! Ha!!!
WE ALL LOVE SUMMER CAMP!!!

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Categories: artists, classes, creativity, inspiration

My students this past session LOVED challenges.
They asked for them!!! One night challenges. Long-term challenges.
So as part of our “throwing with intention” discussion… and trying to plan ahead and make what you want to make with purpose & intention… I challenged my class to a Masterpiece Challenge. I came to class with some sealed envelopes. And told my class that anyone who wanted to take on the challenge could. No details. No information. Just say yes… and you’re in. Almost everyone signed on.

Then they chose an envelope without knowing the contents.
And then I explained the game. Inside were images from random famous artists. And their challenge was to make a piece that was “inspired by, representative of, influenced by or in some other way similar to” the artist inside their envelope. I tried to choose famous artists who had a very identifiable style.

So they’ve been working on their pieces for a few weeks. Some of them made it to the final class, while others just didn’t quite make it done in time. I know there are a couple pieces still waiting to be fired. But… for the ones that finished, they were SPECTACULAR!!!

RENE’ MAGRITTE as interpreted by Catherine.
The photo doesn’t show it, but… the inside of the lidded jar top is a green apple!!!

GEORGIA O’KEEFFE as interpreted by Taylore.
Pretty literal. Pretty darn amazing!!!

ANDY WARHOL as interpreted by Taylore… double-duty, over-achiever..
From the Warhol “Legs & High Heels” collection…

GEORGE SEURAT as interpreted by Emily.
With s little pointillism with colored stains on Shaner Clear glaze.

FRANK STELLA as interpreted by Ryan.
Three different versions bringing Stella’s work to clay.

WALT DISNEY as interpreted by Stacey.
A wonderful rendition of Ursula from “The Little Mermaid” done as a chip & dip set.
Yes, the dip fits inside her belly!!! Brilliant Stacey!!!

And Melissa’s interpretation of M.C. ESCHER
her largest and most elaborate pottery piece yet!!! Unfortunately, timing got away from her a bit and Melissa’s is still in the greenware stage, but you can tell it’s going to be AMAZING!!!

 

Categories: artists, flowers, gallery, lillstreet, vases

Last night was the Lillstreet Gallery Annex Opening Reception for a vase show featuring the ceramics faculty. So many great vases with different styles & techniques showcasing the teachers at Lillstreet Art Center.

FLOURISH : Lillstreet Ceramics Faculty Showcase
Lillstreet Gallery Annex : March 3 – April 9, 2017

Catherine Tweedie & Lisa Harris

Sharon Hartshorne

Les Orenstein & David Bromley

Sam Hostert

David Todd Trost & Nolan Baumgartner

Corinne D. Peterson & Kyle Johns

Mary Drabik & Susan Messer-McBride

Robin Power

Chris Chaney & Catherine Schwalbe

David Hartshorne

And my blue stamped vase…
next to a vase by Jason Lawfer with some VERY dramatic greenery…

Special thanks to Brian who coordinated this gallery show and furnished the flowers…
and even MORE flowers at the very last minute!!! The show looks great Brian!
Thanks for showcasing the Lillstreet ceramic instructors!!!

Okay, back to me… one more shot of my stamped & soda-fired blue vase…
finished off with some very last minute flowers from Brian – Thanks!

March 3 – April 9, 2017

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Categories: artists, My Talented Friends

This weekend I added another wonderful ceramic piece to my collection. I’ve known Corinne Peterson ever since I started taking pottery classes at Lillstreet Art Center. She’s been a staple amongst the Lillstreet Studio Members. She’s currently in the process of condo-downsizing, and had a wonderful “Moving Sale” which included a lot of her masterpieces. I got this great twosome with great colors & textures… part of what has made Corinne such a “celebrity” on the Chicago Art Scene!!!

Categories: artists, classes, inspiration

So my Tuesday night class has a new “challenge” this session. They each randomly drew the name of a famous artist out of a bowl and were challenged to create a ceramic piece “inspired by, reminiscent of, similar to, influenced by” or in any other way similar to the work of their famous artist. It’s been so much fun to see how they’ve each embraced the challenge… including this one that Melissa was working on last night.

Can you guess who her famous artist is???

 

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Categories: artists, soda-fired, textures

Back in September 2016, I did a post about the Saturday metalsmithing class and the wonderful collaboration we did. Each of the students took on the challenge to incorporate one of my textured tile pieces into their metalwork. They all did a wonderful job. Such a great project.

Click here to see the original blog post about the collaboration challenge.

Well, here’s one more entry into the mix. A little late, but well worth the wait.
And to be brutally honest, I got these pictures a LONG time ago… I’ve been a slacker in posting. Sorry.

Anyway, Lillstreet metalsmithing student Erika Novak created this amazing pendant using one of my textured pieces as her “cabachon gem”… so to speak.

And the back side is an amazing “reproduction” done with CAD design and cast in bronze.

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Categories: artists, pottery, special events

It’s just three months away… and time to start counting the days!
To my favorite Pottery Tour of the year. The St. Croix Valley Pottery Tour.
And this year’s tour promises to be one of the best ever!!!
It’s their 25th Anniversary!!!

As usual, there are seven host locations on the tour. And this year they have invited fifty-two guests artists to join in the celebration. Promising to be an incredible three-day weekend in Minnesota!!! So many pots to see. So many potters to chat with. So much fun for everyone!!! I’ll be coming up as usual to play at all of the locations… and “quite possibly”, add a new pot… or two… or twelve to my collection?!!!

I know I will be going up for the weekend. Wouldn’t miss it. It’s an annual adventure!
Unfortunately, I haven’t been “invited” to be one of the guest artists… yet… so I will still be there shopping, chatting and admiring a TON of wonderful pottery with everyone else!!! It’s the best pottery weekend every year… and I’d love to see some blog fans there!!!

To see the full list of participating potters, and complete Tour details,
click here for the Minnesota Potters website.

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Categories: artists, Chicago, creativity

Street art along Ashland Avenue in Chicago… taking a nap on the sidewalk?!

Categories: artists, creativity, friends

Last night was my friend Pam’s 50th Birthday Party!!!
And sure, we could have had a “normal” night out… but that’s not how we fly!
Pam decided to have her party at the Firehouse Art Center in Chicago. She was surrounded by all of her friends… and a lot of flames to play with!!! We all had a chance to do some glassblowing with proceeds going to the ArtReach Program. Such a great idea for her party… and her group of artist friends! So much fun for everyone!!!

So first, you need to decide what colors you want added into the glass. There were bags of colored frits to choose from… a little overwhelming. So many choices… and far too many flames all around as a wonderful distraction!!!

Then you with down with a glop of molten glass on the end of your rod. The glass is pressed into the pan of colored frits so they stick to the glass and begin to melt. Then you poke, snip and swirl the colors with metal tongs. Since I decided to make a paperweight, I knew I wanted to add some cool air bubbles into my glass, so I poked holes deep into the glass.

Another dip of glass… more swirling… more mixing…

Then you finally get to start shaping it into a ball using tongs and a wet wooden “scoop” shaper.

Once the shape is good, you need to make a groove where the piece will be “cut off” the rod.

A little last minute shaping… and then it was time to snap it off the rod, blow torch the bottom edge to smooth it out, and then it went into another kiln for a slow cool down.

And me… a happy camper after playing with fire & glass!!!

My friend Kelly was there too… so here’s her glass “journey” too!
Rolling her glass in the colored frits…

Re-heating the glass to melt it all together again…

Some poking, snipping, swirling… and shaping…

A wet wooden “bowl” shaper to help refine the shape of the molten glass.

And then since Kelly was making a bowl, she got to actually “blow” her glass ball open. While the studio tech was helping with the bowl, Kelly was at the other end of the rod ready to blow and inflate her glass at his command. The coolest part was when her glass was a nice large, round “bubble”… he told Kelly to suck the air out and it pulled in the top half to make a double-walled concave bowl. Pretty amazing!!!

So at this point, all of the bowls and paperweights made last night are still in the kiln cooling down. I’m pretty sure we will get them in the next day or two… and I’ll be sure to post some photos!!!

And again… HAPPY BIRTHDAY PAM!!!
We all had a great time at your party… it was a wonderful idea to party with fire!!!!

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Categories: artists

Another dreary gray day in Chicago.
Looks like I’m not the only one feeling the effects of these long gray days.