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

This week my students really worked it in the Lillstreet Throwdown class. They came into class with their “two matching bowls now trimmed” from last week. Thinking we were going to start with those right away… Oh, but wait… I had another game plan!!!

First we did a quick challenge at the handbuilding tables. I had them each pull a 2-pound slab of clay to make a rectangular slab. The they were challenged to FREEHAND cut with an Xacto four basic shapes. No rulers. No stencils. To templates. Just the Xacto and their best guessimating skills! They were challenged to cut a 5-inch circle. a 4-inch square, a 3-inch equillateral triangle and a 2×10-inch rectangle. Closest ones win points!

Then we pulled out their bowls from last week. Ah ha... back to the expected challenge. They pulled out their “now matching more than before” bowls. We all looked at them, compared them and critiqued some of their strengths & weaknesses. We picked to winners… and then I surprised them with another twist!!! They were to choose one of their bowls to carve a pattern through creating a basket of sorts. They had about an hour and a half for the challenge… which sounded like a lot of time but it flew by fast!

And here’s the REAL challenge…
they had to carve away at least half of the bowl’s weight.
And yes, we actually weighted them before & after!

Grab your tools… grab your bowl… and GO!!!

And then they started carving… and carving… and carving…

And they just kept cutting… just kept carving… so quiet… so focused…

Some of them even pulled out their “fancy” carving tools from DiamondCore Tools. Jake & Dave first tried these in my class when I shared them… and they QUICKLY fell in love with them!!! So now they’ve really “stepped-up their carving games” and now are enjoying the sharp, clean line quality of Diamond Core Tools. Dave may have stepped-up his game… but he also sat-down for the challenge… ON THE FLOOR!!!

And then the carving continued… many of them checking their progress on the scale. Only to find out that they haven’t taken out nearly as much clay as they had thought!!! Realizing that they still have a LONG way to go!!!

Just a few moments before the buzzer went off….
just a few more cuts… just a few more holes…

And then we put the finished bowls down on the table for discussion, critique, judging and admiration! The carved bowls were AMAZING… but I was truly mesmerized by the shadows they created on the tables!

And then the comparison & show-off contest began… as everyone brought their bowls to the table and the class discussion began. Everyone loved the challenge even though it really pushed them out of their comfort zones!!!

A wonderful collection of freshly-carved bowls!!! So many great designs, so much effort & patience. So much for ME to watch all of them working their way through the challenge!

And the Top Two winners?…
Teresa with her elegant “octagonally-carved” bowl…
and Ryan with his bowls full of holes! Not much soup is going to stay in either one?!!!

So that’s it for another wonderful Throwdown class… and it’s only Week Two!!!

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Categories: classes, mugs

My pottery class ROCKED it tonight!!!
It was only the second night of our new session… and they’ve already tackled
making MUGS!!! Thrown, trimmed and handles attached…
and ready to move on to bigger & better things next week!

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Categories: bowls, classes, lillstreet

Tonight was the kick-off of the Second Annual LILLSTREET POTTERY THROWDOWN class.
I have a great group of students again this time around. Three repeat “throwdown” students and nine new to the challenge!

Tonight’s challenge was to throw one “perfect” bowl in 30 minutes. They thought that was it… but of course it wasn’t. The “twist” was that they needed to throw a second “perfect” bowl to match! Same height, width, diameter, curves, profile, everything! Not as easy as it sounds. Ryan & Jacob walked off with top honors tonight!

Ryan’s matching bowls – one of the TOP TWO sets!!

Jacob checking out his entries in the matching bowl challenge… another TOP TWO winner!

Categories: classes, food

And oh, but wait there’s more!!
My students came into class tonight with about fourteen packages of OREOs!!!
Including this flavor I had never seen?! THEY ROCK!!!…
and we now have plenty of OREOs for the next couple weeks!!!

Categories: classes, food

Tonight we start a new session of pottery classes.
And what better way to kick it off than with some NEW OREO flavors?!!!

Categories: classes, lillstreet

BAD NEWS :
My Tuesday night pottery class for next session at Lillstreet Art Center is already filled…
WHOO-HOO!!!… so if you were hoping to sign-up later, sorry!!!

GOOD NEWS:
There are still SIX spaces open for my Wednesday night Pottery Challenge class.
Think “The Great Pottery Throwdown” with challenges, races, projects and a LOT
of good-natured pottery competition for slightly more advanced potters!
Click here to register online… but be FAST… only six spaces left!
Categories: classes, creativity, food

For this Tuesday’s potluck, one of my new students pulled out ALL the stops!!! And made homemade OREO’s in four flavors… almond, raspberry, lemon and chocolate mint. And oh, but wait there’s more… she also STAMPED the cookies with a symbol to show which flavor was which… and made a “legend” too! AMAZING!!! Jen sure rocked this potluck… and her way into my heart… and stomach!

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Categories: classes, food, stamped

For this week’s final pottery class of the session, we had a fun potluck & pottery exchange! Ashley suggested we go with a potluck theme and chose “tropical”… which goes against my “all-chocolate instincts.” So I went with a pineapple cheesecake with coconut cookie crust.

But the real question… who cuts a cake from two different sides at the same time? What? I was confused.

Categories: classes, family, friends, terra cotta, textures

Last night we played with clay to celebrate Kieran’s upcoming nuptials.
The “bachelorette” group had already been to the Art Institute, and had pizza for dinner,
next stop was the studio for some terra cotta fun! They all made textured slabs
that they turned into vases & mugs. So much fun to see them working together
through the generations. Such a wonderful group of family & friends…
which I’m honored to say I’m part of!

Who’s to say what “trouble” the girls got into though after they left the studio?!!!

Lots of fun & laughter… lots of encouragement & support… a lot of great pots!
All of which ended with little Ryann scrubbing down the tables!

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Categories: bowls, classes, textures, tools

So he’s at it again… the carving addiction has taken a hold of my student Dave.
My class demo intrigued him… so he bought his own DiamondCore Carving Tool
and now he’s a force to be reckoned with. He’s definitely found a new direction for his work.
I can’t wait to see where this new passion takes him!!!