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

Adding some colored flashing slips to help accent my berry bowls prior to bisque firing. If all goes as planned, these slip colors will become more vibrant and show some flashing effects after soda-firing.

Categories: bowls, process, production, tools

Berry bowls here we come!!!
And who doesn’t want to play with power tools in the studio? The quicker & cleaner way to drill holes in bowls is with an actual power drill. Go figure!

So I start by marking where the holes will go with my MKM Decorating Disks. They help even space out the holes so you know where to drill. Then you just let it rip!!!

The clay will fly up and leave behind some burrs which are easy to brush off after they dry a bit. A couple minutes and a stiff paintbrush… and maybe a bit of smoothing.

With a little brushing & smoothing, your berry bowls will be done in no time! So much faster & easier than cutting them out by hand. So much so… that this power drill tip was actually featured in Ceramics Monthly!!! Click here to see the article!

 

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Categories: bowls, process, production, stamped

Time to do a bit of refinement on the bottoms of these bowls…
trimming a clean foortring setting the stage for some holes soon to come!

Categories: bowls, stamped, stamps, textures

Time to do a bit of detailing on the latest batch of bowls. They’ve set-up a bit and are now a “wet-leatherhard” stage. Not quite dry enough for trimming, but stiff enough to hold it’s shape during the stamping process. Gauging the right wetness is kind of mportant when you’re going in to for a full day of stamping!!!

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Bowl #11 -

Bowl #12 -

And for now these bowls are stamped and back under plastic for the night.
But then coming soon… power tools to make them berry bowls!!!

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Categories: bowls, production

Throwing some bowls… with the plan of turning them into berry bowls somewhere along the way! Spring is coming… and then so are fresh fruits. The timing will be perfect!

Categories: bowls, classes, production

If you recall the bowl demo from last week… you may remember one of the bowl & rim alterations when we did a split rim, pinched it together and then pulled it out to an oval. Just a refresher… there was an audible gasp when I pulled the edges out making it UN-round!!! Heaven forbid that I make a round bowl UN-round on purpose!!!

But the plan was to make it into a basket…. which I think makes it make a lot more sense!
Maybe my students will re-gasp when they see the basket version of the UN-round bowl?!

Categories: bowls, clay, textures

Finger painting with thick slip on the inside of a bowl!!!

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Categories: bowls, classes, production, wheelthrowing

My class Tuesday night was great fun… and always my favorite demo of the session. My new beginners have nbeen working on their centering & throwing skills on cylinders. And of course they’ve “found” a few bowls along the way. Well this week we focused on throwing a good bowl on purpose instead of a cylinder gone bad.

So the way the demo goes is I first sit down to tshow them out to make the basic bowl with a nice rounded interior. No beginner bulges here! After the demo & questions, I set them free to go make their own bowls…. while I continue to throw a full bag of clay into bowls! Once all sixteen bowls were thrown, we re-grouped at my wheel to do some quick tricks & techniques for altering the bowls. I’m a big fan of putting your own twist or design on a bowl… instead of just leaving it round. Anyone can do that. So here are the sixteen tricks I showed the,….

Bowl 1 – a simple bowl with four fluted points and a nice spiral in the bottom.

Bowl 2 – And if four fluted spots are good, maybe eight would be better?

Bowl 3 – Then we flared out the rim to create a nice flanged rim. A perfect sot to do some decorating later. Carving, stamping, slip, glazing, whatever… you now have a nice “canvas” there on the rim.

Bowl 4 – And if “some” flange is good… “more” flange might be better???

Bowl 5 – And then we combined the fluted rim with the flared flange rim.

Bowl 6 – A simple texture pressed into the bottom with a metal dragonscaling tool.

Bowl 7 – And who says bowls need to stay round?… not me…
as we dented in four points to make a clover-ish shape.

Bowl 8 – Next we decided to split the rim with the point of a wooden knife. I then pinched it into four even spaces… and then two more on opposite sides. They all loved that… but the gasps were audible when I stretched it out of shape to an oval. I don’t think they like this one too much…. but I’m sure they’ll come around when they see it with a strap handle to turn it more into a basket later.

Bowl 9 – Again with the split rim, this time four flares out and four flares in…
denting it with the curved side of my wooden knife.

Bowl 10 – Next I introduced them to colored slip. And showed them how easily they can create a two-tone pot faster & cleaner with slip than they would be able to with two buckets of glaze. This is a simple black slip… which I believe I’ll be carving into for a little sgrafitto demo next week.

Bowl 11 – For this one I coated the interior with a thick white slip, and then dragged the rounded end of my wooden knife through to reveal the clay color while the bowl was turning on the wheel.

Bowl 12 – The same coating of thick white slip inside the bowl… but this time some squiggly finger-painting & dragging through the bowl while it was spinning.

Bowl 13 – Again with the thick white slip interior, this time chattered with a rhythmic tapping of my green rubber rib… up & down through the slip, and out towards the rim as the bowl is sinning. This design is slightly different every time based on the speed of your tapping and the speed of the wheel rotating.

Bowl 14 – A simple spiral of black slip as squirted from a small bottle… and a small fluted edge using the side of a medium Sharpie marker!!!

Bowl 15 – A simple lesson on how easy it is to make bands of color… just hold the paint brush still and spin the wheel. My guess is that these bands of green slip will be carved through at some point.

Bowl 16 – An ombre blend of white to green slip… and I’m loving the tight spiral of thick slip in the bottom of the bowl.

So for now… all sixteen bowls are up in my studio under plastic. I’m “pretty sure” that there will be some stamping, decorating & refining of these before I get around to trimming. Just a hunch.

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Categories: bowls, classes

So last night was the second night of The Great Lillstreet Throwdown!!!
My new class on Thursday nights “loosely” based… err, inspired by The Great Pottery Throwdown on BBC.

Last week their first challenge was to throw a 3-pound bowl in 20 minutes.
They could make it any size, any shape. Knowing that it was going to be judged & scored at the end. So they all put their best foot forward… err, on the pottery wheel foot pedal.

And then SURPRISE!!!
After they were all ranked & scored, the next surprise was laid down…
By each of them passing their freshly thrown bowl to the third person to their right.
The challenge was now to trim, finish and decorate their “new” bowl by the next class.

And that class just happened to be last night.
So they all brought in their greenware “finished” bowls for judging.
Here is a quick overview of the “finished” bowls… one week after the first throwing challenge!

And one last bowl entry… apparently straight from the reclaim bucket!!!
The student missed last week’s class but was in the process of discarding this bowl when one of the other students stopped her and pulled it out of the bucket so she would have in the challenge!!!

It was pretty obvious that a few of them were “playing the game” and quite possibly looking for a little advantage with their choices of design content. Did you notice the bike themed bowl???… or this little lovely…

Little did they know that I would NOT be the one judging their bowls.
So their “sucking up” wouldn’t work! Instead, I had my friend & fellow teacher Mike Skiersch stop by as our Guest Judge for the evening. He analyzed, lifted, touched and critiqued as he tried his best to rank them from best to worst.

And then it was on to the next challenge…

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Categories: bowls, glaze, stamped

A simple bowl, spiral bottom, repetitive stamping… and a pine cone for the fun of it!