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

So I saw a random post on Instagram over the weekend about a basic potter’s challenge… for newbies & more advanced throwers. One pound of clay, perfect cylinders, four inches tall with just four pulls. Not a bad way to start the morning…

Categories: challenge, classes, mugs

You know how my students “love” a good challenge… so my Intermediate Wheel class once again asked for a “fun” challenge project to work on throughout last session. I decided to challenge them with “Stacking Mugs.” A set of four or more matching mugs that stack well… and have some sort of design that ties them all together when stacked, but still look cool individually. I think they all stacked up quite nicely!

Categories: challenge, classes, lillstreet

At the end of our GREAT LILLSTREET THROWDOWN class, my students had “suffered” through so many challenges, competitions & games… and they finally threw it back at ME!!! Yes, there was one final challenge all for ME!!! Complete with my own “white envelope” with instructions inside…

Of course I said YES!!! You know how much I love a good challenge!!!

So I had to quickly set-up my wheel, get some tools, put some water in my bucket & wedge up a ball of clay. Then is was time to put the blindfold on… and tackle the “hump” of clay! Ten mini pots… that somehow had to be decorated & match… and along the way somehow they also had to get handles?!!!


Okay, so mini pots thrown… time to switch over to handles!
Decided the quickest route would be rolled coils stuck on!

Okay, so maybe not my finest work, but…
Once the cups were done, I got another white envelope… with another challenge & more instructions!

Finding it tough to assemble my teapot parts & pieces as everything is completely squishy… no need for slip apparently!!!

And there is was… the FINAL challenge of Season Five of our GREAT LILLSTREET THROWDOWN!!! So much fun for me… and I think my students had a great time too. We had a great group this season! Thanks to everyone for playing along with my crazy games!!!

Categories: challenge, classes, platters, stamped, stamps

Never one to back down from a challenge… I kinda felt obligated to make a clock for my LILLSTREET THROWDOWN as well. Sure, I coulda’ done a cartoon… but I felt this was more my style! The twist was that I used my student’s stamps that they made during a previous THROWDOWN challenge!!! They had no idea that I snuck them out of the bisque kiln & used them on my clock before I distributed them during the next class!!! So much fun to show it off during our final class! Fun clay clocks for everyone!!!

Categories: challenge, creativity, lillstreet

The final “Big Build Project” for the GREAT LILLSTREET THROWDOWN was to build a clock! Yes, remember when they chose different classic cartoons to base their clocks on??? Well, it’s been several weeks and they’ve all been working hard. Some made to the finish line and showed up with a complete glazed piece. Others didn’t quite pace themselves well enough and only had a bisqued clock. Either way… they were BRILLIANT!!!

Now I will admit that I know absolutely NOTHING about Pokemon… but we were all blown away by Autum’s Pokemon Clock!!! It was amazingly crafted on the outside. And then I was BLOWN AWAY when she opened it up to reveal another character inside… and figured out away for the lid to stand up on its own base!!! Needless to say… Autum won “first place” in the big clock challenge!!! And now I know that Pokemon Balls can open up…. who knew?!

Categories: challenge, classes, lillstreet

Huge congrats to Claire for her big win last night during the conclusion of our GREAT LILLSTREET THROWDOWN class! We all had an amazing time… made some fantastic pieces… and played some crazy games!!! A huge Thank You to all my students who made Season Five a huge success!!!

Categories: challenge, handbuilding, lillstreet, wheelthrowing

This past week in my GREAT LILLSTREET THROWDOWN class, my students tackled their “last” big class challenge as we are sadly nearing the end of the class session. They’ve done handbuilding challenges, they’ve done wheelthrowing challenges… they’ve played silly games & posed for silly pictures! It has been a great class session with GREAT students in class this time around.

So to top things off… I decided to challenge them with something they “never saw coming!”


I had them separate into teams by randomly rolling dice. They then got matching color bandanas as blindfolds… and the one who had a small safety pin on it had to go first. So they put their blindfolds on… and stood there while their partners found out what their task would be. They each rolled some dice to find out what number their team would be throwing!

And then they set-off to do their best… one throwing blindly with just their partner to describe & paint a mental picture of the outcome!

And then, after the throwers had made their shapes as best they could… and the timer went off… we switched places. The ones doing the describing put their blindfolds on, as the wheelthrowers took theirs off. Only then did they find out that the newly blindfolded members would now be responsible for refining the shape and adding handles to match the original pictures. Okay, sure… maybe I drew some of the handles in…

And again, when the time was up… the teams brought their final pieces to the table for critiques, judging & admiration. I think everyone had a good time with this challenge. There was a LOT of laughter along the way!

Categories: bowls, challenge, classes, lillstreet, surface decoration

As part of the GREAT LILLSTREET THROWDOWN, my students we encouraged to finish their projects from Week Two for judging at Week 9… this past Thursday. Remember back when they had to throw a large serving bowl, pass it to another to match, and then pass it back to finish it up… and make coordinating serving utensils to go with it. Well here are the Top Three… congratulations Ashley, Katie & Aaron!

Categories: challenge, lillstreet, wheelthrowing

Last week in our LILLSTREET THROWDOWN class, I challenged my students to throw their most “perfect” mug-shaped cylinder. After they had shaped, grooved & “perfected” them… they brought them all to the table thinking they were done!

Only THEN did they find out that the REAL challenge was that they had to throw as many “matching” cylinders as they could… at HALF THE SIZE!!! Yep, smaller versions thrown off-the-hump. So those who made their original cylinders more shapely or decorated, now had to make them smaller too! Some people had never thrown-off-the hump, so I did a quick demo… and then the challenge started!!! At the end, they only got points for the cylinders that were deemed “matching” at half the size by the group!

Categories: challenge, classes, food

And then when they were done making their doughnuts… and thought they were done… they then found out that they needed to make a box to “keep it fresh.” A little twist that my GREAT LILLSTREET THROWDOWN students hadn’t quite anticipated. So if they made a larger doughnut, they now needed a much larger box!!! A fun little handbuilding challenge to finish off the night.