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

We ended out LILLSTREET THROWDOWN class Thursday night with a table full of envelopes. And you know I love a good game.. so it was a “White Envelope, White Elephant Game” of picking, trading & stealing! Once they picked an envelope, they opened it to see their clue… but there was a lot of “stealing” going on. Inside the envelopes were categories for their upcoming “Big Build” project challenge.

After they each had their chosen clue…
it was time to reveal their “Big Build”… which was…

C’mon… you don’t think I would reveal it quite so quickly, right?!

There were a couple people missing from class, so once they get their “assignments”… then it’s time to share more details about their very challenging project.

But only when the “time” is right!!!

Categories: challenge, classes, handbuilding

The fifth challenge this week for my LILLSTREET THROWDOWN students was to roll the longest coil possible with one & a half pounds of clay. Same rules apply… if a piece breaks off, you can continue to roll the longer piece, but they could not squish it back on! Congrats to to Katie, Aaron & Claire who rolled their coils longer than the table… and had to make the bend!

Categories: challenge, classes, wheelthrowing

After a couple handbuilding challenges, it was time for my THROWDOWN class to get back on the wheel. This time it was “tallest” wheelthrown cylinder with two pounds of clay! With a nice even rim… no pinching, stretching or adding onto the top to make it taller! Congrats to Claire, Katie & Alex for their tallest cylinders!

Categories: challenge, classes

The next challenge my LILLSTREET THROWDOWN students took on this week was pulling handles the traditional way. With a pound & a half of clay, the challenge was to pull the longest handle possible. And again, it any part breaks off they could continue pulling with whatever was left in their holding hand… but they could not squish the broken piece back on. The three with the longest handles after 10 minutes got the points!!! Congrats to Ashley, Brittany & Autum (tied) and Angela!!!

And yes… sadly, Aaron’s very long handle broke as he pulled it one step too far… and there was no coming back from it!!!

Categories: challenge, classes, handbuilding

This past week during the GREAT LILLSTREET THROWDOWN, we started with a “blind weighing” of clay challenge… where they each had to cut off four pieces of clay without the benefit of a scale. After they had guessed at the right weights, we checked them on the scale and rated them on the variance! The three people closest to the correct weights got the points!

Once they had the four balls of clay “correct”… we started with some basic handbuilding skills! First up… pulling the largest slab of clay on the table. No slab roller. No rolling pins. Just the largest continuous slab… and if a piece broke off, they were not allowed to squish it back on! Let gravity do the work… stretch that clay thin & wide!!!

Categories: bowls, classes, surface decoration

Now with serving cutlery, my GREAT LILLSTREET THROWDOWN class put their new serving bowl sets together for critique & judging. It was so great to see how they all came together. Some people focused more on the basics of their sets & how the pieces all work together… while others relied more on surface decoration techniques to pull it all together. I can’t wait to see how these sets turn out… as their final “judging” will be in Week 9 of class after they’re all glazed!!!

Categories: challenge, classes

And oh, but wait there’s more… after making their serving spoons, my THROWDOWN class was surprised with another challenge… to make a serving fork that goes with the serving spoon!!! And, works well with the two original serving bowl set.

Again, most of them made handbuilt forks… but it was Libby who tackled the challenge by throwing a small “bottle” on the wheel and then cutting it in half vertically! Brilliant Libby!!!

Categories: challenge, classes

And so the THROWDOWN continued… after we had judged the matching bowls, they then learned that they needed make a large serving soon to coordinate with the bowls. I believe none of my my students had ever really built a clay spoon, so it was great fun for me to see how they each approached the tasks at hand. Most of them chose to handbuild… only a couple tried their hand at the wheel.

Categories: bowls, challenge, classes

So the GREAT LILLSTREET THROWDOWN just completed its second week of “Season Five”!!! And here’s an update… so for the first class challenge, my new “contestants” had to throw a 3-pound serving bowl. They then had to pass it two people to their left… and then that person had to throw another bowl to MATCH the first bowl they just received! Not an easy challenge… and not the last part of the challenge either!!!

After they had two bowls, they then passed them both back to the first person who threw the original bowl… and it was their homework challenge to trim, refine, decorate, “whatever” to make them all MATCHY-MATCHY!!! So here are some of the entries… many using some colored slips to force the matching-ness! But it was Tracy who won the challenge with some straight-on trimming & refining of her two plain & unadorned bowls!!!

More to come…

Categories: classes, pottery

a great project from last year’s GREAT LILLSTREET THROWDOWN class!

The assignment “challenge” was to create a coffee set with two cups, creamer & sugar based on a famous artist. Claire made this amazing set during class based on the artwork style of Piet Mondrian! Fantastic craftsmanship & technique… Claire killed it!!! So much so, that these pieces ended up on the Lillstreet Show-Off Shelves for several weeks!

And oh, but wait there’s more…
a new “season” of THE GREAT LILLSTREET THROWDOWN has just started up with twelve new students…. errr, contestants! I’m extra excited that Claire came back for another round of fun… and I can’t wait to see what she creates this session! I have very high expectations!!!