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

When I started the last session with my Beginners & Advanced Beginners, there was a request for a “challenge project” of some sort. We discussed some options… and I added a challenge to the syllabus for Week 9.

The project turned out to be a “carved cut-out” challenge to take out parts of their bowls. They had to start with a well-trimmed leatherhard bowl. We then weighed their bowls and wrote down the weights. And then I threw out the “real” challenge…

They had to take their bowl and carve away some of the sides to make a “basket-like” bowl… that weighs LESS THAN HALF of the original weight. Keeping in mind that they needed to keep the rim & foot ring intact. I suggested a few tips, and offered them a few tools to borrow… even some of my cherished DiamondCore Carving Tools!… and then they just jumped right in. I LOVED seeing them tackle the challenge with such zeal & enthusiasm… you would never know that this group are still considered “beginner” wheelthrowers!

One of my students got a little too focused on the pattern… and not enough on the actual structure of the bowl. Carving… carving… carving… until the two pieces just came apart. The top came right off of the bottom. Luckily, with a bit of scoring & slipping…. and some well-placed “dots”… I think Kristen saved it to live another day! Fingers crossed…

And I’m COMPLETELY enamored with the shadows that these bowls are making! Most of them came pretty close to the “half-of-the-weight” carved away challenge… just a few ounces away. But it was the excitement & adventure they all went through that really made my night!!!

Categories: challenge, classes, food

So I threw this challenge out awhile back, but no Oreo-Ritz Combo treats have shown up??… until last night!!! Huge kudos to one of my students Kate who “took one for the team” and made her own version!!! And for the record… everybody LOVED them!!!

Upon further investigation, a few people have told me that they only made a thousand boxes of these combo treats. And someone found a box on EBAY for around $500!!! Yikes!!!… homemade worked for us!!! So now methinks I owe Kate a FREE MUG for “succeeding “ in the challenge ?!!!

Categories: artists, challenge, classes, lillstreet

winner of the LILLSTREET THROWDOWN Season Four!!!

Categories: artists, challenge, classes

For the BIG BUILD project of the LILLSTREET THROWDOWN, I challenged my students to make a creamer & sugar set based on the work of a famous artist… assigned by Tracy! Including creamer with handle, sugar with lid, tray and a spoon! They all did an amazing job… most of them getting all of their pieces “done” for class. We did have a few kiln issues, so not all of the pieces were at the same place… some were bisqued, some glazed, some stuck waiting on a cart, and some missing? I felt sorry for Helen who was struggling to find her pieces on the bisque carts! Regardless, they did an amazing job embracing their inner Mondrian, Dali, Lichtenstein & Koons.





Categories: challenge, classes, creativity, handbuilding, tiles

The final “surprise” challenge for my LILLSTREET THROWDOWN class was to interpret five different words onto five different tiles. They each received the same words & a blank tile, and then had fifteen minutes to “represent” the word on each tile. The words were PAISLEY, NOSTALGIA, CHAOS, FESTIVE and JUXTAPOSITION. Always fun for me as the observer to watch each of them approach a challenge in different ways – both in interpreting the word and their handbuilding approach & techniques!






Categories: challenge, classes, creativity, handbuilding, tiles

On the final night of the LILLSTREET THROWDOWN, my students came in thinking they were pretty much done except for some critiques, judging & points… but they were WRONG!!! I surprised them with one last challenge… decorating tiles with only 15 minutes per tile.

And oh, but wait there’s more...
each of their five tiles had to each represent a different given word…
chosen by me!

Categories: bowls, challenge, classes

Last night in my Intermediate Wheelthrowing class, we celebrated the end of another class session with a fun “trading-exchanging-stealing” game with matching soup crocks. One of them even came with an onion & the recipe for French Onion Soup!!!

Categories: challenge, classes, wheelthrowing

While I was in St. Louis this week, my LILLSTREET THROWDOWN class went on without me… thanks to my sub Lisa… and my pre-determined wheelthrowing challenges! This week they had to make their own version of a “perfect” seven-inch cylinder! Not realizing until later that they would also have to recreate that same “perfect” vase proportionately at 5-inches tall… and them again at 3-inches tall… and one more time at 9-inches! Looks like they killed it!!!

And I can’t wait to see them next week… when they need to bring back all four vases with “matching” surface decoration using SLIP TRAILING as their primary technique!

Categories: challenge, glaze, surface decoration

One of my favorite surprises during our Glaze Throwdown Challenge?… watching Clara pull out an underglaze pencil and do these wonderful doodles on the side of her cylinder! I can’t wait to see how they look after the glaze firing… hoping they don’t get bugged out!!!

Categories: challenge, glaze

For the second challenge during this week’s LILLSTREET THROWDOWN, we moved to the Glaze Room for the first-ever Glazing Throwdown! I wanted them all to start out with the same canvas”… so I pre-made & bisqued plain, smooth cylinders for them.

The challenge was do do the coolest glaze on these possible… and the real trick is we won’t see what they’ve done until AFTER they’ve been fired!!! We’re hoping for the best… as there were multiple dips, layers, underglazes, dots, sprayed glazes, underglaze pencils, bubbles, squeeze bottles, wax resists and a lot more going on here! We’ll all have to wait to see the results!