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

So we started with a little “art introduction” of sculptor Robert Indiana and his works. We discussed his style, design & concept…. and they all got excited to build their first sculpture based on his work. So the challenge for each of them was to build a large version of this sculpture using their own names!!! A LOT of handbuilding… but I was confident they could do it!!!

The campers started by drawing out the letters for their names. I encouraged them to have some sort of style & design… like maybe adding serifs to the letters?! Then the kids started making their slabs and cutting out their large letters. To make them a 3-dimensional letter, they needed to cut-out two of every letter to make the front & back.

Some of them were so pleased with their letters… and even the canvas covered boards that they worked on. Making an overlapped letter outline masterpiece!!!

After a quick demo on how to assemble their letters, they all set off for a LOT of scoring & slipping! I kept telling them that I can “pretty much guarantee” that of they don’t score & slip… their piece will fall apart! So they were all very diligent with their assembly!

At the end of Day One, I made sure that my campers did a full cleaning of their workspaces. Each kid with their own dedicated space to be safely distant from the other campers. And as part of Rule #3… whatever mess they make, THEY will be cleaning up… and that includes the FLOOR!!!

After stacking & assembling their name letter sculptures, the kids started painting them with glaze. It’s a special glaze that we use for some of our Summer Camp projects. They can paint it on “raw” terra cotta for a single firing. The colors will be darker & shiny when they come out of the kiln!

FAST FORWARD TO FRIDAY : The Last Day of Sculpture Camp
And also the day that the kid’s sculptures came out of the kiln. Always exciting when there are no “explosions” or severe breakage during the firings. Sure, we may have lost a couple feet off the bottoms… but everything still stood up well. And maybe next time they’ll remember to score & slip a little better?!

NEXT UP : My Summer Campers had to shift gears to start another sculpture for the rest of their week. This time, much larger and made with plaster gauze!!!

Categories: art fair, artists, collaborations

One of the highlights of ART IN THE GARDEN is that the artists get to play together & collaborate on some cool projects. One of collaborations this year was this batch of porcelain soda-fired jars that I made and other artists added their own “artist-styled” knobs to the tops

Well, a couple weeks have gone by since ART IN THE GARDEN, and I’ve been sitting here with a few of the collaboration jars waiting to be photographed & posted here online for sale. I’ve been playing hooky a bit too much lately while it’s been so nice outside… but the clouds have come over Chicago so I finally got my act together today! Here are a few “teaser” photos of the nine collaboration jars that will go up for sale only on my Fire When Ready Pottery Facebook page at 6:00pm CST. It will be first come, first served when the “official” Photo Album is posted. So set an alarm reminder to check them out at 6:00pm tonight!

Click here to go to my Fire When Ready Pottery Facebook page!

Categories: artists, clay, handbuilding

Just sharing a little TEXTURE TUESDAY flashback… back to last week when Pam posted this for her Texture Tuesday post! And flashing back even further to wonderful memories of her amazing Northwoods cabin, the beautiful lake, the tranquility, serenity and the fun of leaving behind a handmade ceramic leaf for her to find!!!

Categories: artists, classes, lillstreet, platters, textures, wheelthrowing

For class tonight I did a couple demos of throwing plates & platters. For this dinner plate I channeled my inner Steven Showalter… trying out some of his amazing textural slip work! Thanks Steven for being such a great teacher & sharing so much online. Love your work, your techniques & your willingness to share! I just payed it forward!!

Be sure to follow Steven on Instagram – @stevenshowalterpottery

Categories: artists, murals

I always love stumbling across some beautiful street art… or in this case, alley art. I found these graffiti murals on the east side of the Red Line train track between Rosemont & Granville. It’s my neighborhood, but I’ve never run across these ones before?!!!

Categories: artists, lillstreet

Last night was the Opening Reception featuring Cassie Tompkins the Textile Dept. Artist-In-Residence in the Lillstreet 2nd Floor Annex Gallery… socially-distant with lots of face masks of course!

I posted photos of the shibori dyed panels before… but the colorful floral patterns are new & very fun!!! Luckily, I get to walk past them every day when I go to my studio! A whimsical way to brighten the second floor!

Categories: artists, food, friends, mugs

Looks like Martin is starting his morning off right… with some tea & crumpets before he starts painting! And I’m sure his tea is extra tasty this morning… in one of my mugs that he got from our pottery class mug “exchange-stealing-trading” game!!!

You can check out some of Martin’s amazing paintings & other artwork by clicking here for his website!

Categories: artists, bowls, creativity, food, friends, pitchers, pottery

When Rosene sent me this picture of her grocery produce “harvest” on some of my pottery… it looked a little too much like she was setting up a still life to do a painting!!!

So I went ahead and made it for her!!!

Categories: artists, classes, lillstreet

And not to be out-done… Melanie had a pretty adorable final piece in her Matryoshka set as well. This teeny-tiny little cat jar was just PRECIOUS!!! Also worth the wait… finally glazed after several months of waiting & sheltering-at-home!

Categories: artists, creativity, lillstreet

So, after several month of pandemic, quarantines & sheltering-in-place… many of my students from last Winter’s LILLSTREET THROWDOWN have returned to Lillstreet to finish up the projects they were making during my challenges & contest class. One of the best challenges in class was for the students to build a set of Matryoshka Dolls… with a minimum of five pieces that all nestled in on each other. Most of them got their pieces made… but no one had a chance to glaze them as COVID-19 set-in just at the end of class. No time to finish. No time to glaze. Our final THROWDOWN class happened just days before the lockdown!

But now we’re back at Lillstreet… and students have returned to pick-up where they left off. There’s been a lot of glazing going on. Including Christine who won the Matryoshka Challenge… as well as the overall trophy!

Here’s a look at her Matryoshka set that recently came out of the glaze kiln!

Her set was based on the LILLSTREET THROWDOWN class itself, and some of the bigger challenges along the way! BRILLIANT!!!

Her largest jar was an homage to… well, err… little embarrassing… ME!!!
It’s not everyday you get memorialized in underglaze!!! Complete with my tie-dyed t-shirt & black gym shorts!!

The other exterior sides of the largest jar hosted shelves of pots and the names of everyone in class! Again, honoring the class, the fun , and everyone who took part in Season Three of THE GREAT LILLSTREET THROWDOWN!

Oh… but then it opens up…

And then the second layer was based on the challenge when they all had to make Flower Bricks. Self-enclosed vases with a bunch of holes on the top for the flower stems to go through!

Inside the Flower Brick was a set of Matching Mugs… another one of our weekly class challenges. They were told to incorporate four different patterns & designs on the mugs… stripes, polka dots, paisley and plaid!

Inside the matching mugs, is a set of matching bowls. Another one of our class challenges! Smaller than the actual bowls made for the challenge… but they had to fit inside, right?!

And oh, but wait there’s more…
Inside the stacked bowls was a miniature ceramic OREO cookie!!!

YES!!!… Christine actually made a clay OREO cookie!!!
Okay, so “maybe” I have a bit of an OREO addiction going on.
Perhaps we ate far too many of them during class?!
But good to see that they’re getting honored in Christine’s set!!!

And there it is!!! Well worth the wait!!!
Even though the pandemic is still carrying on… it does feel great to be back at Lillstreet teaching & working. So good to see students back in classes, and campers back at Summer Camp. Happy that we are all making the best of the situation… with more than enough social-distancing, sanitizing, procedures and structural changes within Lillstreet.

Happy to see Christine’s finished set of Matryoshka nesting dolls!
A BRILLIANT concept!!! Thank you Christine for sharing your talents!