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

Stamped, trimmed, accented with colored flashing slips and now drying. Not bad for bowls that were thrown less then 24 hours ago! This is what happens when racing for a soda-kiln loading in just a few days!!!

Categories: bowls, stamped

Early morning detailing with a dab of colored flashing slip on every stamp.

Categories: bowls, classes

Every session I do this demo mfor my class. I first teach them how to make a “bowl on purpose”, instead of a cylinder gone bad. We discuss the smooth curve inside by using a plastic rib, and not having that “ledge” indentation that you get with a cylinder-gone-bad. After we make it though the first bowl, I send them back to their wheels to try making better bowls on purpose.

While they’re making their bowls, I continue throwing a bunch of bowls that are “almost” the same. When I get them all thrown, we reassemble at my demo wheel so I can do some quick decorative tricks to make the bowls all different. I try to encourage “playing” with their clay and trying some new tricks. The wheel can make it round, but it’s up to them to make it special. So this time I made nineteen bowls for our demo… all basically the same to start out, but then all different by the end of the demo!

Bowl A – Two flip-twists to make a simple fluted edge.

Bowl B – And if two fluted edges are good, eight might be better.

Bowl C – A simple flared out rim.

Bowl D – A simple flared out rim with four fluted edges.

Bowl E – A wide flared out rim with some concentric indentaitons in the center.

Bowl F – A split rim with four “pinched” accent points.

Bowl G – The same split rim with four pinches, but then squished and altered into a new shape. Who says bowls need to be round?

Bowl H – And if altering the shape of a split rim bowl is your thing, take it a bit further by going inwards with four, and outwards with the other four to create a lotus-type shaped bowl.

Bowl I – A simple flower indentation using a dragonscale tool.

Bowl J – While I was doing the demo, Ryan asked if I ever do any that are asymetrical. I pondered it for a bit… and then came up with this one. I cut it, and then bent it, and rolled it in a bit. Just playing… experimenting… accepting the challenge… and I kinda like what came out of it.

Bowl K – Then we switched to slip decoration as another option. So I painted the entire interior with thick white slip and then dragged a rounded stick through it to get the spiral effect.

Bowl L – Again, the thick slip is painted in to cover the interior, and then I used the rounded tool to make incised bands. Using slip like this creates a nice color-contrast to the clay body, as well as a bit of a textural change where the grooves are.

Bowl M – Sure, you can use the rounded wood tool… but you can also squiggle your finger tip through the thick slip. Squiggle, spin and move up all at the same time.

Bowl N – Then instead of covering the entire interior, we filled a small squeeze bottle and squirted out a thin spiral of a contrasting color.

Bowl O – Again, Ryan was right there ready to give me another challenge. And he asked if we could do two different colors of slip spirals… and make one go the opposite direction too!!!

Bowl P – A simple ombre effect with a green slip blended down to a white slip.

Bowl Q – Then I filled the interior with thick green slip and did a rhythmic chattering technique to create this bowl.

Bowl R – And since slip is just liquid clay, why not use it a bit thicker than normal… in a pastry bag squeezing it through a cake decorating nib. I like the concept… I like the look of it… but I’m still not quite sure that I’ll like the final result. Not quite sure how to resolve the sharp points???

Bowl S – Then we tackled another colored slip trick. I layered some slip on newspaper and transfered it onto the bowl. I started by squeezing some white onto the newspaper. I let it stifffen up for a few minutes and then I squirted on some black lines. When that set-up, I painted over it with a couple layers of green slip. As the news paper draws the moisture out of the slip, the slip stiffens up. I put another piece of newspaper on top and presses it together to flatten it out a bit. When it was stiff enough to move, but still wet, I cut out circles with a small cookie cutter and adhered them to the bowl. Again, not sure that I like this final bowl, but I’m intrigued by the process. I’m thinking a more thoughtful plan might work great on the right form.

So that’s nineteen quite bowl alterations. Remember, they all started out looking the same…. but don’t any more after a few quick tricks. Remember to play with your clay to make it your own! Anyone can make a “round” bowl… now it’s time to make it your own!!!








Categories: bowls, soda-fired, stamped

Small bowl stamped & soda-fired. Ready to fill with ice cream & hot fudge!!!

Categories: bowls, soda-fired

Here’s a quick glimpse of the class demo bowl I did for my class awhile ago!
It’s a simple bowl with a carved pattern with a great Zebra Carving tool. But before the carving, I painted the bowl with wax so that the slip wouldn’t get smudged all over the bowl… I only wanted it to stay inside the carved pattern. With the waxed surface, the excess slip was so easy to wipe-off… leaving only the slip-filled pattern. After soda-firing, the color contrast became a bit more predominant. I like how the decoration is “part of the bowl” and not just slip sitting on top of the bowl. What I don’t like?…. there was some cracking and shrinking of the slip. So the drying & shrinkage rate must be off a bit from the clay body. Definitely a fun demo. I’ll have to try it again. Maybe another demo opportunity for this session’s class?

Click here to see the steps that lead up to this!

Categories: bowls, glaze, holiday, kiln firing, mugs

With ART IN THE BARN getting closer & closer…
and so many “Ghouls” still to make… I decided to squeeze in one more kiln firing just because I can. So I threw together some quick replenishment pieces that will get a quick cone six glaze firing early next week… just under the wire. Sure, it’s not my best packed kiln. But it does have a lot of mugs & bowls for ART IN THE BARN. As well as a little holiday surprise on the top layer!

Bisque Kiln Layer #1my favorite thing to make... mugs, mugs and more mugs!!!

Bisque Kiln Layer #2 – some stacked bowls and small trays for salt & pepper shaker sets.

Bisque Kiln Layer #3 - more bowls, more trays, and some ikebana vase tops.

Bisque Kiln Layer #4 – which in this case turned out to be a low-fire GLAZE kiln layer!!!
The green glaze is actually a low-fire clear glaze. After firing, these little pumpkins will show their true colors… warts and all.





Categories: bowls, friends, pottery

A quick peek into the pottery cupboard as dinnerware pieces are changing from summer colors to seasonal earthtones. So fun to see my pottery in people’s homes… in this case, my first ever “art fair friends” who have quite the collection both old & new! Thanks for sharing Gerry & Rosene. See you soon!

Categories: bowls, classes, glaze

Since we’re in-between class sessions, I thought this morning might be a good chance to glaze my past class demo pieces. My students know all-too-well how much I “love” glazing and how my pots tend to pile up! Too many glazes. Too many options. Too many ways for the glaze to “ruin” my pots after I’ve employed some of my “control issues” to get them to this point.

Categories: bowls, production, stamped

Tonight I did a little detailing… some stamping & fluting of the rims on my latest batch of bowls. Gotta re-stock the inventory for the next wave of art fairs!

Categories: bowls, classes

Tonight was the last class for Beginning & Advanced Beginning Wheeltrowing class.¬† We ended with a great potluck and a fun “White Elephant” trading-exchanging-stealing game. Everyone brought in a bowl they had made, and then went home with someone else’s. I was excited to come home with this beauty by Kit… a charming stoneware bowl that she carved using my new Zebra Wood Carving Tools from CI Industries.