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

Getting things ready for tonight’s SURFACE DECORATIONS class demo. Sure, I might not be there tonight (road trip!!!)… but I’m confident that I have the BEST SUB EVER lined up & ready to put them through their paces!!! Can’t wait to see what they do to decorate these slip-covered bowls tonight!!!

Categories: classes, color, surface decoration

My students LOVED last week’s “tie-dyed” demo night with my SURFACE DECORATIONS class. After the shaving cream demo, they all decided to give it a try… splashing colors, smelly shaving cream & water melting away the “evidence” to leave behind some great colored results!!!

Categories: bowls, classes, color, surface decoration, tie-dye

After marbling & spinning, we started our final “tie-dye” demo of the night… shockingly with a thin layer of shaving cream on newspaper. I know my students were pretty darn confused at this point.

Then I took some colored underglazes and dribbled drops & squiggles all over it. I thought I could use a large straw to move the underglazes… kinda like a big pipette… using my thumb or pinching off the other end to keep it stuck in the straw. FYI… didn’t work so well.

Once I had the underglaze colors spread out over the shaving cream, I dragged a tool through it to swirl the colors a bit. And yes, my students were still confused & intrigued…

Then I took a straight-sided & smooth vase… pre-bisqued… and literally rolled it over the top of the colorful swirls. The porous bisque piece grabs the underglaze & shaving cream You want the underglaze to touch the pot… more than the shaving cream. You want the color, NOT the aromatic white fluffy stuff!!!

Once I had rolled the whole surface, I let it sit for a few minutes… and everyone was STILL intrigued…

After letting it sit for a bit, we moved to the classroom sinks…

And yes, we LITERALLY just ran the water over the surface!!! It dissolves off the shaving cream, but leaves most of the color “attached” to the pot. The water does most of the work… so don’t scrub it or rub it off.

Once the shaving cream is gone… all you have left is colorful “tie-dyed” underglazes!!! You’ll need to let it dry overnight before glazing it. My “plan” is to do a bright color inside… maybe blue… and then a thin coat of spayed clear over the outside to help the colors POP!

Of course, these are underglazes… and we’re firing to cone 10… so there’s really no guarantee that these colors will all “survive” the firing. But we talked about high-fire underglazes in case they really like this technique!

Categories: bowls, classes, color, surface decoration

After “swirling” underglazes… one of my students said that it seemed a bit like the old-school “spin art”… so we did that too!!! Dripped in some underglazes and then spun it all REALLY fast on the wheel!!! It looked cool while it was spinning… but even more fun to watch it slowly run back down and sort of settle into its final groovy colored pattern!

Categories: bowls, classes, wheelthrowing

Ten bowls by 10:00am!!! Sure, I shoulda been making the terra cotta drip plates… but I kinda slipped on a tangent. But seriously, who doesn’t need some new bowls???

Categories: classes, wheelthrowing

Had a “little” fun last night in class! We started with throwing lidded jars… and then switched to throwing the lids off-the-hump. And then since I had some “extra hump”… we continued and I showed them how to make mini bowls, small bud vases & ornaments too!!!

Categories: bowls, classes, color, patterns, process, textures

This week in my SURFACE DECORATIONS class, we tackled a couple different techniques for a fun tie-dyed effect… you all know I’m a kinda big fan of tie-dye!!!

So we started with a “squiggly” version… where I took a large plat platter, painted a layer of thick slip on top, and then dribbled some blobs of colored underglazes on top of it. Not really sure how this will work… but I’m always ready to try something new… it’s just clay, right?!

And then I took a plastic rib with a scalloped edge… a cake decorating tool… and started to squiggle through the layers of slip & underglazes to blend, blur & texture the plate. In hindsight, I kinda wish the plastic rib were either softer or thinner… as it was a bit tough to get some good squiggle up by the curve of the rim.

So here it is so far… I’m going to let it dry slowly and trim the bottom when it gets leatherhard. Still contemplating if it might “need” a bit of stamped texture somewhere?! And if so… where???

After bisque firing, I’m assumiong I’ll probably just sue some clear glaze to make the colors “pop” and give it all some shine. The downside might be… that I’m not fully confident that the colors of the underglazes will actually “survive” the high-fire cone 10 temperatures. But we’ll find out soon enough…

Not quite traditional “tie-dye”…. but pretty fun & groovy nonetheless!

Categories: bowls, classes, patterns, textures, tools

This week in my SURFACE DECORATIONS class, we did a bit of carving for texture & pattern! I started with two bowls with slightly thicker walls, trimmed at leatherhard, and then we sat down to carve. Using my sharp DiamondCore Tools gives me nice crisp lines, grooves & incisions… and I’m always willing to let my students give them a try too… a mix of carving tools & trimming tools for an assortment of lines!!!

Categories: bowls, classes

So tonight’s class demo for my Beginners & Advance Beginners was how to make a “bowl on purpose” and NOT another cylinder gone bad! So I did a couple quick demos showing them how to get a nice smooth, rounded bowl interior… without any flat bottoms, bad corners or beginner’s ledges! Once they had the basics… I sent them off to make their own bowls While I threw a few more quickly in class for the upcoming “part two” of tonight’s demo!

Once I had all of my bowls thrown… a bag full of clay… I continued to help my student son their bowls for awhile. With about 45 minutes left to class, we regathered at my demo-wheel and we did some quick alterations & decorations to my thirteen “matching” bowls. My goal is always to show them some quick “tricks” and techniques to alter their bowls… cuz’ the wheel can make them round, but I want THEM to make them their own!!!

So we cruised through all thirteen bowls in about fifteen minutes… quick tricks to make each one different than the one before!

Bowl One – fluted on two opposite sides

Bowl Twoif two are fun, maybe more are better?… fluted edges in eight places

Bowl Three – thin flared flange

Bowl Four – wide flared flange

Bowl Five – flared out flange twisted with four flutes.

Bowl Six – split rim dented on one two sides… most likely where a handle will attach going up & over to make a “basket” handle.

Bowl Seven – split rim pinched together in eight places

Bowl Eight – split rim dented in & dented out… kinda lotus-like.

Bowl Nine – spiral grooves through thick white slip.

Bowl Ten – concentric grooves though thick white slip.

Bowl Eleven – finger squiggles through thick white slip.

Bowl Twelve – swipes with a rib through thick white slip… channeling my inner “Steven Showalter”… if you’re not following him on Instagram, you definitely should be!!!

Bowl Thirteen – chattering texture through thick white slip

And now all of the bowls are up in my studio, under plastic, wrapped up for the night. I’m pretty sure that there “might” possibly be some more stamping, detailing & refining of these bowls before I call them done!

Categories: classes, surface decoration, textures

More thick slip textures created by rhythmic chattering with a rubber rib… gently tapping up & down with the rib through a layer of thick slip from the center outwards while the wheel is spinning. Kinda zen. Kinda groovy. Always fun!