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

A huge Thank You to all of my students who made The First Annual LILLSTREET THROWDOWN class a success!!! I was so impressed by the group’s bonding, camaraderie & healthy competition. So helpful & supportive of each other along the way. Not to mention their creativity & determination with every project. Thanks to each of you for putting up with my crazy games & challenges. You guys ROCKED IT!!! Thanks for being such a good group. You were so much fun to “play with” each week… you made my job easy!



Categories: classes, lillstreet

After ten weeks of playful pottery competition… we’ve finally come to the end.
The Closing Ceremonies so to speak. After awarding points to the final teapots, and points to the matching cups & saucer, the totals were tabulated for all participants!

And the Winners are…

MOST CREATIVE… for that amazing Airstream Butter Dish…
“Joe Bowl-A”… also known as Jon!

MOST OVER-THOUGHT… for almost always making at least two entries for every challenge…
“Tay-Tay Clay-Wedger”… also known as Taylore!’

BEST TREATS… my favorite award… for those crazy amazing S’mores Cupcakes!!!
“Peggy Burnish-ine”… also known as Patti!

THIRD PLACE… with a total of 300 points…
“Tay-Tay Clay-Wedger”… also known as Taylore!

SECOND PLACE… with a total of 310 points…
“ClaytinaWatergirl” … also known as Catherine!

And in the much coveted FIRST PLACEwith a Grand Total of 372 points…
“Clay Eagerman”… also known as Chuck.







Categories: classes, teapot

Last night was the final class & final challenge for my LILLSTREET THROWDOWN class! While we had a few people struggling to find time for this final & largest challenge, we still ahd quite a few amazing entries. Especially amazing as this was the very first teapot for many of my students!!! And just two weeks to finish putting it all together is not a lot of time!

Katie’s sweet little teapot and cups. Her first teapot ever!!!… and as of right now, she’s claiming it might be her last. We’ll see… maybe I can get her to tackle another one next session???

Ryan’s structured slab constructions kind of took on a life of their own… especially when the teapot literally “jumped” off the table and fell om the ground. Luckily, it was still wet enough that he could do a bit of reconstructive surgery in it. We’ll see how this holds up when it gets fired… so far so good.

Chuck’s wheelthrown set dipped in colored slip for an upcoming soda-firing.

Jon’s unique handbuilt teapot… note: the little bumper at the bottom right is just that, a bumper to keep it from rocking backwards white drying or bisque firing. Unfortunately, Jon wasn’t able to complete his cups in time as some birthday celebrations got in the way… totally understandable… PARTY OVER POTTERY!!!


Richard’s teapot set was very well-constructed with great angles & lines that tied it all together. Very well thought out as you might expect from an architect.

Stephanie’s handbuilt constructions with stenciled slip decorations.

Isabel’s porcelain set… with a smidge of last-minute brilliance of throwing her cups & saucers as one piece and slapping on a handle quick so as to fulfill the challenge in time!

Patty’s porcelain set with sweet cups & saucers.

Taylore’s porcelain teapot & cups… soon to be completed with a handmade brass handle!
My vote for second place!

And the one I chose as best teapot was Catherine’s porcelain precision!


Categories: classes

Okay, so my final class of the LILLSTREET THROWDOWN class is tonight!!!
And I’m working quickly to make some prize ribbons to share with the group.
There’s been a lot of healthy competition & camaraderie amongst the students.
So tonight is going to be a fun one!!! Everyone has worked hard…
so EVERYONE gets a ribbon!!!


Categories: classes, food, mugs

Last night was the final class for my Tuesday night beginning wheel students. They all did an amazing job this session… so we ended it with an amazing potluck & mug exchange! We all submitted a handmade mug disguised in a brown paper bag. And then with a fun White Elephant kind of picking-trading-stealing game, we all went home with someone else’s mug as a class souvenir! I came away with this beauty by my teaching assistant Susan Slogoff. Inside and out… just perfect.

And top treat of the night?… at least for me?…
oh, they know me oh too well... HOMEMADE OREO’s!!!
Best way to this teacher’s heart is through my stomach!
Thanks Teresa – you’re MY FAVORITE!!! Ha!

Categories: classes, lillstreet, process, production, stamped, teapot

So we’re now in the final week of classes for this session. Which means my LILLSTREET THROWDOWN students are working frantically on their final challenge… okay, maybe a “double” challenge?! A week and a half ago in class they got the assignment of a teapot for the last class. So they all started out making their best renditions… although several of them had never made a teapot before!

Then last week in class I surprised them with one last twist of a challenge. Now that they have a teapot started… now they need to make two cups & saucers to go along with that teapot! All to be “finished” greenware by this Thursday’s last class. SURPRISE!!!

And of course, I too was challenged to make a teapot along with them… so I am! You know I love a good challenge. So I’m working on my teapots…. yes, plural… you know I can’t do just ONE of anything!!!


Categories: classes, glaze

Last night I taught another beginning wheelthrowing class as a sub for Jayson. He had requested two things… stamping and bubble glazing demos for his students. DONE! Sure, the stamping is the easy one… but the bubbles are more FUN FOR EVERYONE!!!

So we started with a base coat of a single glaze. For my bowl, I went with a shiny white glaze for a good clean bottom layer. Thinking it would be a good clean canvas for the colored bubbles on top.

Once that base layer was dry, I cleaned off the bottom and prepared the bubbles. So we took a small disposable plastic cup, and filled it with maybe a 1/4″ of glaze. I let the student choose, so my bubbles were a shiny purple colored glaze. We added a few drops of DAWN dishwashing liquid and a straw. Stir it up and start to blow some bubbles… like you’re six again! Just don’t inhale!!!

As the bubbles start to accumulate and fill the cup, get ready to “spill” them onto your pre-glazed piece. As the cup overflows with bubbles, just let them gather on the sies of you rpot. We were using a banding wheel so we could easily rotate the pot to get the bubbles all over. A slower steady blowing into the straw seems to get larger bubbles. Forceful fast blowing seems to create smaller bubbly foam.

Once you’ve covered your pot with bubbles, just sit back and watch the magic happen. The bubbles start to pop all by themselves leaving thsi really great pattern of glaze “residue” behind. Leave it as it is… or add more bubbles if you want?!

We decided to go one step further… cause “more is more”, right?... and we added a second layer of bubbles in a different color. So my second layer is a flat blue glaze. If you look closely, you can see the “purple” bubbles made the white pattern, and the “blue” bubbles made the darker beige color. Who knows how this is going to turn out after firing?… but I bet it’s going to be pretty darn groovy!!!

After my demo, some of the students had their bisque ready to go… let the bubbling begin!!!

One guy even decided to double-down… errr, triple-down?.. and go for bubble glazing three mugs all at one time! Crazy, right?…. I LOVE IT!!!

SO he covered all three with bubbly foaming glaze… and you can see how the pattern stats to show up as the bubbles pop by themselves.

A very random, spider-webby, splattery kind of glaze effect. I hope I get a chance to see these when they come out of the kiln…. so guarantee since this wasn’t my class or my students?! But we’ll see… I’ll keep an eye out for them!

Categories: classes, lillstreet, wheelthrowing

As we are in Week Nine of ten, we’re coming down to the wire in my LILLSTREET THROWDOWN pottery challenges class. Last night was their final “Quick-Throw Challenge.” Tallest cylinder thrown with just one pound of clay in 15 minutes. A classic challenge testing their basic throwing skills. I think they were all surprised to find out it wasn’t quite as easy as they had assumed.

After the time was up, we did a bit of comparing…
trying to rank them from top to bottom… tallest to shortest for points!



Categories: classes, food

Last night in my LILLSTREET THROWDOWN class, we were treated to the most amazing cupcakes ever!!! Patti (aka “Peggy Burnish-ine”) baked these wondrous confections for us.

Let me explain… bottom layer of graham cracker crust. then a layer of chocolate. Then the chocolate cake batter with graham cracker crumbles in it, topped with another layer of chocolate… and then the best ooey-gooey, light & fluffy marshmallow frosting ever… toasted marshmallow to boot!!! As you can clearly see… they were VERY much enjoyed!!!… repeatedly!

Sadly, I had to explain to her that there are no “extra credit” points in the THROWDOWN for sucking up to the teacher. Valiant effort though!!!





Categories: classes, creativity, lillstreet

So my students are KILLING IT this session! I’m teaching a new class and having a great time. It’s my LILLSTREET THROWDOWN class loosely base don the BBC reality show. We’re more than halfway through and they’ve just finished their first real handbuilding challenge! Sure, we could have done something easy… but what fun is that. So we dove right in and went for a handbuilt butter dish!!!

And here they are in all of their buttery glory!!!

And a tribute to architect Frank Gehry…

This one was a bit too large… so we were joking that it was “Large Marge-erine.”
So she went for it!!!

Love this one with the attached knife holder…

This one is extra sweet with a handmade ceramic butter knife too!

And probably the most inventive & creative of the bunch…

Even better when put into the scene parked at the ol’ trailer park!!!

Plus, sadly... the one that didn’t quite make it into the kiln in time…
We all would have loved to see this one glazed and done like the rest of them!

And the big winner… with Catherine tackling her handbuilding challenge with porcelain!
With beautiful simplicity and a perfect fit.