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

After Tuesday’s class demo, I now find that I have a table full of not-so-basic bowls.
But you know my motto… MORE IS MORE.
So why not do a little more stamping & detailing?! So I did…

And for now they’re all stamped & detailed…
and going back under wraps so I can come back tomorrow to trim them all!

Categories: bowls, classes

Last Tuesday night I did my favorite demo for my wheelthrowing pottery class…
BOWLS ON PURPOSE… and not a cylinder gone bad!

I started by showing them all how to make a nicely rounded bowl from the git-go. Establishing the interior curve right from the start. Compressing the curve. Never letting an indented groove-ledge happen while pinching & lifting the clay. The using a plastic rib to flare it our and make a nice smooth curve. After that first demo, I “released” them all so they could get to working… making bowls! Meanwhile, I threw a full bag of clay to make nineteen bowls. I then called them all back to Part Two of the demo. This is when I encourage them to “play with their clay”… and tot try new techniques to alter & decorate their simple wheelthrown forms. To show them some quick tricks & techniques to give them some ideas of what they can do…and to show them that there are a million options… just try something! Have fun!!!

Bowl #1 – Here’s the basic bowl… simple spiral… the basis of all the bowls to come!

Bowl #2 – Tweaked – just two simple finger twists on opposite sides. Simple. Cute.

Bowl #3 – Fluted. If two tweaks are cute, maybe eight flutes are better?

Bowl #4 – Narrow Flange – Just an inch of the rim flared out to widen the bowl.

Bowl #5 – Wide Flange – If a narrow rim is good, maybe a wider flange is better?

Bowl #6 – Flared & Fluted. Combining the flared out flange and the fluted tweaks!

Bowl #7 – Stamped Bottom. A surprise in the bottom made with a metal dragon-scaling tool.


Bowl #8 – Cloverleaf – Dented in on fours sides to create a clover shape.

Bowl #9 – Pinched Split-Rim. First I split the rim using the pointed end of my wooden knife, and then pinched it back together in eight places.

Bowl #10 – Split-Rim Lotus. Another split-rim bowl… but then dented in & dented out.

Bowl #11 – Crazy Churro – We started with a triple split-rim… but then I dented it accidentally,,, so I dented it more, and altered the shape to “camouflage” my first mistake. It got a little crazy… but might lead to something else?

Bowl #12 – Squared – I dented four corners and then flattened the sides in.

Bowl #13 – Overlapped. I cut through the sides of the bowl, and then overlapped the edges to close it in a bit more.

After altering the shapes, I decided ti was time to introduce the option of suing colored slips as a decoration technique.

Bowl #14 – White Slip Spiral. I covered the entire interior with white slip, and then dragged through the slip as it was rotating on the wheel.

Bowl #15 – Banded. Another white slip covered bowl, this time banded with the rounded end of my wooden knife.. The Potter’s Thumb.

Bowl #16 – Chattered. A complete layer of thick white slip, chattered through with a green rubber rib. Rhythmic tapping of the rib through the slip as it was spinning in the wheel.

Bowl #17 – Ombre. A blended color slip mixing white and blue Mazzerine slips

Bowl #18 – Ombre Squiggle. Another ombre blend, but then sguiggled with the rounded end of my wooden knife.

Bowl #19 – Splattered. A full layer of blue Mazzerine slip, and then a quick splatter of white slip… I had intended to do more, but the squeeze bottle got clogged. And my students all thought this looked great. So we stopped with one good splatter!

After class, I brought all of the bowls back up to my studio. They’re now under plastic as their is
a very good chance” that there might just be some more stamping & detailing that happens to these bowls before they’re done! Allegedly…





Categories: bowls, production, stamped, studio, vases

Oh yeah, and there “may have been” a few serving bowls in the production mix today as well! Gotta make, make, make…

Categories: bowls, mugs, pottery, soda-fired

It’s always encouraging to see that people are actually out there USING the pottery that I make. All too often I hear that people save it, show it off, or that it’s just “too nice to use.” Well, my pottery is meant to be used!!! And I love seeing a dish drainer full of soda-fired pots drying off! Thanks Rosene for sharing your dish drainer!!

Categories: bowls, food, glaze, stamped

Hot summer night… cool summer salad…
even “cooler” in a stamped & glazed serving bowl.

Categories: bowls, classes, process, production, wheelthrowing

This week in my Tuesday night Wheelthrowing pottery class, we tackled making “bowls on purpose instead of a cylinder gone bad.” I like to show them how to make a real” bowl with intenti0n, instead of letting a cylinder get away from them and being okay with the “bowl-ish” shape they end up with. So for the demo, I show them how to throw a nice bowl with a beautifully even curve on the interior. No grooves. No indentations. No beginner’s ledge.

Once we cover that first how-to-bowl… then I throw a bunch more while they go back to their wheels to make some bowls… on purpose. After I’ve thrown all of my demo bowls, we reconvene at my wheel to do some quick altering & decorating. My goal is always to show them how to have fun with their clay, to get over the “preciousness” and to encourage them to do something extra to make it “their” bowl instead of just a round bowl that the wheel kind of made for them!!! This is my favorite demo every session!

Bowl #1 – Two simple fluted edges opposite each other.

Bowl #2 – And if two flutes are good, eight might be better?!

Bowl #3 – A wide flanged rim flared out.

Bowl #4 – That same flanged rim flared out and then fluted in four places.

Bowl #5 – A simple “flower” accent pressed into the bottom of a bowl using a metal dragonscale tool.

Bowl #6 – A split rim pinched back together in eight places.

Bowl #7 – Another split rim, this time pinched & flared out in flour places, and inwards in another four places.

Bowl #8 – Sticking with the split rim fun, but this time doing a “scalloped” edge efect.

And then it was time to introduce colored slip as a design option.
I pretty much stuck to white slip as it has a nice contrast to the darker stoneware I was using.

Bowl #9 – a thick layer of white slip with a spiral dragged through it as the wheel was spinning.

Bowl #10 – Think white slip later with some simple banded accents through the slip.

Bowl #11 – A layer of white slip, with one dramatic brush stroke accents swoop!!!

Bowl #12 – A thick layer of slip squiggled through with a finger… like finger painting!!!

Bowl #13 – Another layer of thick white slip, then chattered through with a rubber rib… tapping up & down from the center outwards as the wheel is spinning.

Bowl #14 – A very simple spiral of white slip made with a slip trailing squeeze bottle.

Bowl #15 – A layer of thick white slip with banding and vertical stripes dragged through.

Bowl #16 – Thick white slip with vertical drag stripes, and then a thick grooved spiral in the center.

Bowl #17 – Getting a little ” crazy” with slip, we added some black slip for an ombre gradation effect, an then a spiral dragged through it.

And for now they’re all under plastic in my studio… waiting for a little more detailing…
and who knows?… “maybe” a little stamping here & there???



Categories: bowls, classes, mugs, porcelain

It’s always fun to see finished work by some of my students… even if it is MONTHS later!!! Like these pieces that Dave finally got around to glazing. Beautiful porcelain pieces made during out Lillstreet Pottery Throwdown class back in January! And I totally get it… I have a tendency to let my bisque pile up as well as my least favorite part of the process is glazing!!!


Categories: art fair, bowls, classes, glaze

Two sessions worth of class demo bowls that I finally got around to glazing!
Cleaning, packing & pricing… just in time for this weekend’s art fair in Schaumburg…
and saving some for two weeks later in Hinsdale too!!


Categories: bowls, classes, stamped, stamps

Last night in class, one of my students was making a masterpiece of her own… stamping a shallow bowl with one of her own handmade stamps and adding final touches with the side of a paintbrush to add a bit of texture around the outer rim. I feel like a “proud papa”!!!

Categories: bowls, classes, process, production

Lots of class demo bowls require LOTS of trimming. Luckily I love trimming… so it was kind of enjoyable to finish off this latest batch of eighteen class demo bowls. Now trimmed with a clean footring and drying… many of them upside-down as I think that might help avoid warping?! No real “proof”… but why not go with it anyway???