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

Looks like my pottery doppelganger is at it again… and I’ve already had three people mention to me that “one of my platters” is on the bisque cart. It’s not mine… it just one of my students!!!

Categories: classes, wheelthrowing

In one of my recent wheelthrowing classes, we were focused on “throwing-off-the-hump.” And somehow, these mini trees came along… part of a “demo-on-demand” by my students. We had made larger trees a week before… so it was only a matter of time until we went a bit smaller. I’m thinking I might need to make more?!

Categories: classes, clay

And apparently THIS is something new?… I guess the class last night thought it was a good idea to dry their clay in front of a fan??? Too bad it was still there this morning with the fan still going!!!! My campers would never let this happen! Just sayin’…

Categories: classes, platters, stamped

So when the latest glaze kiln was unloaded at Lillstreet, I had SO many people stop by to tell me that one of my stamped platters was on the glaze cart. When I went to look for it… all I saw was this one… which was NOT mine!

Turns out it is one of my students who has truly taken my demos to heart. They say “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”… but we also discuss how to take a technique and alter it a bit to make it your own “new” style! She was the first one to admit that she is not a creative person, but can see something & she can make it. The rest of the class dubbed her as “The Replicator.”

Categories: classes, food

Oh, how I’ve missed you… so excited to try the newest flavor of OREO’s and to share them with my pottery class last night. So we still had to follow “the rules”… but we found creative ways to share the goodies & stay safe at the same time! And for the record… these new OREO’s are pretty darn tasty!!!

Categories: classes, lillstreet, summer camp

So we’re back for another week of Summer Camp… and once again I’m in Wheelthrowing Camps all day! Sure, we could have them throw pots all day long, but they kinda like cleaning too! So why not have them tackle cleaning the community reclaim clay bucket?! The reason for the grid on the top is to press the clay through to make it smaller pieces for easier reclaiming later… a fact often lost on the adult students who just pile tons of clay on top! Not my kids though… they know to push it all through the grid! Thanks Emery & Hannah for making it happen today!

Categories: bowls, classes, surface decoration, wheelthrowing

Last night during my Beginning & Advanced Beginning Wheelthrowing class, we tackled making a bowl on purpose… instead of a cylinder gone bad. We discussed the differences… and how I can see if it started out as a cylinder… tsk-tsk!

After doing a demo on a basic bowl, I explained how the wheel pretty much makes the plain bowl for you… but it’s up to YOU to decorate it and make it your own! So I threw a bunch of basic bowls during class for us to “play with” later!

And then we re-grouped when I was done throwing all of the bowls. We then went through a quick barrage of tricks & techniques for doing some surface decorations to their bowls. None of them are too difficult. It’s more about encouraging them to give it a try, commit to something, having fun… and i fit doesn’t work, we can always squish it up, re-wedge it and try again. IT’S JUST CLAY!!!

Bowl #1 – The “Control” Sample… this is what they all started out like…

Bowl #2 – a simple fluted edge in four places

Bowl #3 – a simple flared-out flange

Bowl #4 – A wider flared flange… more “canvas” for decorating!

Bowl #5 – a split rim with two side dents…
good potential for a basket handle to go up & over the top

Bowl #6 – Another split rim – this time with four dents making kind of a quatrefoil squared-off effect

Bowl #7 – Another split rim… this time with eight finger-pinched sections

Bowl #8 – another split rim with eight dented sections… four inwards & four outwards – creating a bit of a lotus effect

Bowl #9 – Thick white slip with a tight spiral dragged through using the rounded end of my wooden knife.

Bowl #10 – Thick white slip with some concentric banding.

Bowl #11 – Thick white slip with loose fingsr-painting squiggles.

Bow #12 – Thick white slip with groovy squiggle pattern using the rounded end of my wooden knife.

Bowl #13 – Chattering…. rhythmic tapping of a rubber rib through the thick white slip while the bowl was spinning on the wheel.

Bowl #14 – Another bowl with chattering….
this time a bit more angular & linear in the center… by request.

Bowl #15 – An ombre blended gradation of black & white slips… then a fun spiral dragged through both.

So for now they’re all under plastic up in my studio. The class demo was a lot of fun for everyone… just trying to show off some tricks & techniques for decorating basic bowls! I will continue to “detail” them… and possibly do a little stamping in the days to come!

Categories: classes, friends, pottery, soda-fired

This past week of Summer Camp I was upstairs on the third floor in one of the Painting Classrooms for sculpture camp. In the room there’s a large bookshelf full of props & pieces for them to build still-lifes for painting & drawing classes. It was fun to see one of Emily Murphy’s old soda-fired pots in the mix. Sure, it may have a small chip on the rim, but it still looks pretty darn good considering Emily left Lillstreet and moved to Minneapolis several years ago!!!

Categories: classes, stamped

Remember, the oversized flowerpot I threw for my Advanced Wheelthrowing class last session?… well, I made a large water drip tray to go with it. I decided to skip the stamps as it will sit under the flowerpot that already has plenty of stamps!


The water drip tray just came out of the bisque kiln… and the kiln un-loaders left me a note. Thanks for noticing… thanks for pointing this out Chuck!!!

Categories: classes, pottery, surface decoration

Well, it’s been a few weeks since we finished our SURFACE DECORATIONS class at Lillstreet. And things have been glazed & coming out of the kiln. Here’s an assortment of Helen’s pieces she made during class… including crackled slip, water etching, sanggam, colored slips, carving, sgraffito, piercing & more! Well done Helen… thanks for sharing your pieces with us!