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

Carving up a couple more bowls.
A bit of colored slip on the insides carved through with my DiamondCore V-tip.
Such nice clean lines!

Categories: bowls, classes, glaze

Also fresh-out-of-the-kiln… the two bubble glazing demo pieces from last week’s class. My bowl had a layer of Shaner White glaze, followed by bubbles of Tom’s Purple, and then another layer of Josh Blue bubbles.

One of my students glazed her bowl with Shaner White followed by bubbles of a green stain, and a slightly dipped rim of Randy’s Green… which explains some of the blushy pink tones!

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Categories: bowls, classes, stamped

Last night I did a bit of detailing & stamping on some of the bowl from Tuesday night’s class demo.  Sure, I could have left them as they were done in class, but why?! I’d rather make them look like something I would normally make.

Maybe with a tad of stamping along the way?!

And now they’re done for the night under plastic until I can get around to trimming them. And a few of them still need a bit more work… maybe a touch of sgraffito fun in the solid slip bowls.

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Categories: bowls, classes

Tuesday night in my Beginning & Advanced Beginning Wheelthrowing pottery class, we finally tackled throwing bowls on purpose instead of a cylinder gone bad! With a nice smooth curved interior, and now stair-stepped, beginner’s ledge. No indentation that ruins that perfect curve. So we talked about how to throw the inside of the shape, knowing that you can trim the outside to match. And how to use a plastic rib on the inside to refine the curve and make it nice and smooth.  Okay “smooth”… my students know how much I love a good spiral… so we kind of laugh about the swirl that I add back into the bottom of the bowl after it was smoothed out by the rib.

After they learned on to make a “bowl on purpose”… they then went back to their wheels to throw some bowls! And I stayed at my demo wheel to throw a “few” more… a full bag of reclaim to make sixteen basic bowls. When I had thrown them all, I called them all back to Part Two of the demo. Because the second part was the decorating & altering all of the bowls to make them not-so-basic anymore!

Bowl #1 – Two simple flutes on opposite sides… easy & cute.

Bowl #2 – And if two flutes are good… maybe eight would be better?
Plus we talked about how important it was to really “commit” and be deliberate in the fluting.

Bowl #3 – A thin flange flared out… just bending the top over a finger held stable on the outside.

Bowl #4 – And if a bot of a flange is good… bigger might be better?!
You know this bowl… that fancy restaurant bowl where they charge a fortune for one scoop of fancy food in the bottom of a big bowl… kinda like this!

Bowl #5 – And then it was time to combine the flute and the flange. We’ve already done two flutes, and eight flutes… so this one we went for four!

Bowl #6 – I showed my students how to split the rim with the pointed tip of their wooden knife. Makes a nice place for some glaze to pool and do some cool effects. Sure, I could have left it open and even all the way around… but I think the little pinches are a bit cuter!

Bowl #7 – And then since we were all enamored with the split-rim trick… we did a bit of fluting and talking about how bowls don’t always need to stay perfectly round!

Bowl #8 – After doing four flutes inward on a split-rim bowl… we decided to go four in and four out. Creating a bit of a lotus curved pattern.

So after doing some altering of the bowls, I then introduced colored slip to the group. And we discussed how it is actually “colored clay” which kind of creates a new “colored skin” to the pot.

Bowl #9 – The first one was just a layer of mazzerine blue slip painted evenly across the interior. We discussed how much harder this effect would be if they tried to do it  with a glaze bucket. Getting that perfectly even edge, crisp & clean, creating a tow-tome bowl now easier than doing it in a glaze bucket!

Bowl #10 – The mazzerine blue slip was a bit too thin and wouldn’t hold its “shape”… so I switched to a thick white slip. I coated the interior of the bowl and then dragged the curved end of my wooden knife through the slip while it was spinning. It makes a great pattern & texture revealing the clay body color along the way. Unfortunately, the white slip wasn’t really showing up all that well… a darker color with a bit more contrast would show up better!

Bowl #11 – One of the students asked if you could mix or blend colors… so we did.
A bit of an ombre blend of the white & mazzerine blue slips.

Bowl #12 – So while we were doing the ombre blend, one of my teaching assistants grabbed a container of thicker green slip. So we were back in business… and re-did the spiral bowl with a lot more color contrast.

Bowl #13 – And since the thicker green slip was holding its place so much better, we carried on with it. This time with a full layer of green slip and then a wavy finger squiggle through it while it was rotating.

Bowl #14 – Again with a layer of thick green slip, and then some rhythmic chattering with a plastic rib. Tapping the moving up at the same time while it’s rotating.

Bowl #15 – This time we switched from the paintbrush.. and made a spiral with a squeeze bottle filled with colored slip. And you know I love a good spiral.

Bowl #16 – With just one bowl left, we ditched the slip and went with a bit of a de-constructed look. I literally cut through the side of the bowl in four places, then pulled them in and overlapped the edges. With a bit of scoring & slipping to hold them together… my “plan” is to add a decorated screw head on each overlap to “hold it together.”

So by the end of class, we had sixteen bowls. Each of them started pretty much the same and very basic. But after some quick tricks & techniques, we made each fo them look a lot different. With so much more style and charm. But the main goal of my demo is to encourage my students to just play more. To not look at every pot they make as being quite so precious. Make more pots… more practice.. more things to experiment with. More fun too!!!

So for now they’re wrapped up under plastic for the night…
for tomorrow night I’ll come back in and do a bit more “detailing”
o make them even more fun.

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Categories: bowls, soda-fired, stamped

Drippin’ & drainin’ for berries.
Just in time for this weekend’s art fair… and some yummy Spring Berries coming soon!

Categories: bowls, tools

Layered with black slip, and then carved through with a v-tip carving tool
by DiamondCore Tools. Another quick sgraffito bowl in the studio.

Categories: bowls, lillstreet

Tonight is EMPTY BOWLS at Lillstreet Art Center.
We’re once again doing our best to help the local needy with this great charity fundraiser. Many of the Lillstreet studio members, teachers & students have made & donated HUNDREDS of bowls!!! Come tonight from 5:00-8:00pm and you can purchase a bowl and they’ll fill it with homemade soup and bread from First Slice Pie Cafe! Yummy food for a great cause and you get to keep the bowl… when it’s empty again!!!

Categories: bowls, classes, lillstreet, production

So last night in my LILLSTREET THROWDOWN challenge class, I surprised my students with another quick-fire throwing challenge. I had them wedge up a large, ten-pound ball of clay much to the griping & moaning of my students. A bigger ball of clay than many of them have ever wedged! I had them all set up a wheel with splash pan, water, tools, etc… all the basics they would need to throw some pots.

The I pulled a small, little mass-produced green bowl from IKEA. And I explained since that is very much a “mass-produced” bowl.. we’re going to mass produce replicas! So the challenge was to throw as many matching little bowls to that sample one off-the-hump as possible in thirty minutes. I did a very quick demo of how to throw off-the-hump for those who had never tackled it before. And then they were off!!! 30 minutes!!! GO!!!

Once they got into the rhythm, and accustomed to the depth, width & technique…
the little bowls just started piling up everywhere! So fun to watch them multiplying.

At the end of the thirty minutes, many of them had come close to finishing the full ten pounds of clay. We brought all of the bowls to the table for a little self-critique, judging and squishing. They were each given points for the number of bowls that were “deemed” matching, or at least close enough. The winner of the challenge was “Tay-Tay Clay-Wedger” with 29 mini bowls!!! Amazing.

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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