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

To celebrate the last class of our LILLSTREET THROWDOWN class, we threw another potluck. And I decided to make a cheesecake… with homemade hot fudge… on a handmade platter. I considered it my own personal “throwdown.”

Categories: classes, food, lillstreet

It’s the last week for my pottery classes… and we like to celebrate with some potluck yummies. Last night we had a great spread… much in thanks to Patty for bringing this beautiful tray of delectable yumminess!

Categories: classes, lillstreet

Well we’re nearing the end of the Second Annual LILLSTREET THROWDOWN class.
So for this week’s in-class challenge, we re-visited a few of our previous challenges with a twist. We divided into two teams and had everyone decide which of six challenges each team player was going to tackle. Twist was… they didn’t know what challenge each was! After they all signed up for their challenge “number”… we rolled the dice to randomly assign project challenges to each number! So they all started working on their assigned challenge… so all six challenges were going on simultaneously.

But after 15 minutes… the timer went OFF!!!    Wait?… what?!!!!

After the first fifteen minutes they all found out that they had to ROTATE to continue working on someone else’s project. Yes, they were going to switch & rotate every 15 minutes for four rotations to finish each challenge. So they needed to work as a team, share information at every rotation, and keep everything on pace so as to finish ALL six challenge projects in the one hour time frame.

Everyone was so focused… and it was surprisingly quiet...
except for the crazy commotion & confusion during rotations!!!

And because one of our students was “out sick” for the night… I had to draft one of my Tuesday night students to fill in to keep the teams even. Thanks to Katie for stepping up and joining in our crazy fun!!!

At the end of the hour… and four complete rotations… we had a table full of projects!
Lots of “matching” challenges… some successful, some not so much…

So here they are side-by-side…  one team versus another!







whoops… and the “other” side…

And the other team’s winning spheres…


Pretty hard to judge… especially when you see all four all lined up…


Categories: classes, music, salt & pepper

This past week my LILLSTREET THROWDOWN students rocked my word!!!
They were challenged to make Salt & Pepper Shakers… with a theme!

I gave them a list of some of the most popular Beatles songs.
And then the TOP TWO winners of the first in-class challenge got to choose their own song title. The the second TOP TWO winners from the second in-class challenge got to “assign” the rest of the themes to everyone else in class! So they left class with a classic Beatles song on which they had to base their salt & pepper shaker set on… with a thematic tray to hold them all together.

So how well do YOU know your Beatles Songs? See if you can figure these out…






But I especially loved how the holes “unintentionally” lined-up to become eyes!!!






And our TOP TWO WINNERS for the week…



So there they are… a bunch of AMAZING salt & pepper shakers!!!
They definitely stepped up to the challenge!!!


Need a few answers to the Beatles Trivia S&P Challenge???

CLAIRE -         Blackbird
JON -                Rocky Raccoon
TERESA -         I Am The Walrus
DAVID -           While My Guitar Gently Weeps
RYAN -             Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band
SUSAN -           Yellow Submarine
TAYLOR -        Across The Universe
JACOB -           Norwegian Wood
MOLLY -          Octopus’s Garden
DONNA -         Strawberry Fields
TATIANA -      Paperback Writer


Categories: classes, process, production

After tackling their wheelthrown spheres, we stuck with the geometric vibe, but switched over to handbuilding. And their next challenge was to handbuild a “perfect” cube… minimum of 4-inch wide. With only a half hour to finish it… they had to work fast with a dedicated plan. Many of them realized quickly that freshly thrown slabs aren’t as rigid as they would have hoped for. But they all perservered… along with some “structures” to help hold up their walls as they forged ahead. They were all a little “iffy” as the start… but quite impressive when they all came together in the final minutes!!!

For some reason, Patti & Jon decided to work together… which was adorable… but they only made ONE cube?! Not quite right… my thinking was each person should make a cube… so it makes sense that two people should make two cubes, right?

Sheesh… look at that craftsmanship… nice sharp corners there Jacob!

At the end of the thirty minutes, we had a table full of square cubes. Some had curved corners. Some were sagging a bit in the middle. All of them were pretty well assembled considering the time constraint.

And again, look at the sharp corners that Jacob had on his winning cube!
He was in the TOP TWO along with our “token” handbuilder Donna!




Categories: classes, creativity, inspiration

After last week’s POTTERY THROWDOWN class where they decorated tiles and a cylinder using that one tool… their “homework” was to throw another cylinder at least 9-inches tall… and then decorate that new one with that same one tool. Looking to see how the design transformed from the two-dimensional tile, to a smaller cylinder… and then even larger where there was even more “canvas” to decorate. This time, they had to use THAT ONE TOOL as their primary decorating tool, but they could also embellish with other surface decoration techniques as well.

Unfortunately… Teresa, Jon & Patti missed the class the week before…
so they didn’t have a tile or a cylinder to work from.
All they had was their homework assignment… and ONE TOOL.




And now back to the original challenge… with tiles, cylinders and their new vases!








And now our TOP TWO WINNERS…

Ryan who carved out all of the areas with the dull metal part that was inside his tool.. and then applied each cut-out to the vase to make it even more dimensional.

Donna who started with a simple heart design on her nine tiles, then extrapolated one tile of the heart into the five dots and one hexagon for the cylinder… and then came back and combined them all back together for her heart-themed vase… still with the dots and hexagons!



Categories: classes, creativity, food, lillstreet

To kick-off our party last Wednesday night, my students took on the “FACE THE COOKIE” Challenge from Minute-To-Win-It. Basically, you put a cookie on your forehead… and then slowly move the cookie down with just facial muscles & expressions… until you get the cookie in your mouth! So I made a challenge… succeed with the cookie in the mouth in one minute and they would get an additional “five minute advantage” in one of the two challenges in class that night.

Crazy fun for everyone… perhaps too much fun… as we got shooshed a bit…
and told to keep it down. How dare we have too much fun in class?!!!

And yes… they “forced” me to give it a try too… harder than it looks…
but the REWARD of success is pretty darn sweet!





Categories: classes, food, holiday

MORE EXCITING NEWS… I just saw that two of my students did a little shopping
on their way into my pottery class tonight. Looks like a party in the making…
we’ll just change the name of our class to the OREO THROWDOWN!!!

Looks like we’re off to a great start in celebrating NATIONAL OREO COOKIE DAY!!!

Categories: classes, food

Last night in our pottery class, we were treated to new OREO’s “imported” from New Zealand… thanks to Patty who finally made it back to class after gallivanting Down Under… thankfully with sweets!!!

Categories: classes, wheelthrowing

Looks like there’s only ONE WHEEL LEFT in my Spring Wheelthrowing Class for Beginners & Advanced Beginners at Lillstreet! Who’s going to be the lucky one to snatch it up and come play in the clay with us???

Click here to register online for that ONE LAST SPOT!!!