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

It’s so WEIRD walking through the first floor classrooms when there is absolutely no one there! Just a quiet reminder of the fun we’ve had there… and the hope that we can get back to it soon enough. I miss my students!!!

Categories: artists, Chicago, classes

While all of us are hunkered down self-isolating
I’m sure many of you have seen some of the press conferences going on with the Mayor, the Governor and Dr. Arwardy.

While I know it doesn’t help all that much… but it always makes me feel a little better knowing that Dr. Arwardy is working FOR US… in our best interests!

But little did you know… Dr. Arwady is actually one of my pottery students as well. She’s been taking my Tuesday night class for a few sessions now… but this last session she missed a LOT of classes, and we knew “something bad” was brewing. So she may be the official voice of Chicago Coronavirus right now… but she’ll always be just Allison to me… or maybe “Allison who LOVES the bubble glaze!!!”

Click here for a link to read a more about Allison’s story!

Categories: classes


The big winner of our LILLSTREET THROWDOWN class. Christine never failed to impress with her colorful creativity, her refined throwing & finishing skills and her great enthusiasm. She embraced every challenge along the way. Well done Christine!!! You definitely deserved the big trophy!

Also congrats to Tracy who came in second, and Dana who came in third. They all did a wonderful job – continuing to impress me every time they brought their finished pieces to the next critique & judging!

You are all AMAZING!!!

Categories: classes

Because every good competition needs a good trophy… I also made a golden & glittery ceramic trophy for the big winner of Season Three of our own LILLSTREET THROWDOWN!!! Of course it needed a few stamps as well…

Categories: classes

All that was left for the LILLSTREET THROWDOWN were the prizes!!!
I made colorful ribbons for everyone… first, second, third… and a few extra special ones for my extra special students!

Categories: classes, food, inspiration

As the LILLSTREET THROWDOWN came to an end last night, my class surprised me with a sweet Thank You card & gift. And for the record… the gift was indeed SWEET… from Big Fat Cookie in Chicago!!! I must admit, this group was a pleasure to teach… always so eager to play along with my crazy pottery games & challenges! They truly rocked it out this session… Thank You to each and every one of them!

Categories: classes, creativity

For my THROWDOWN “Decorating With An Oreo” Challenge… there wasn’t a time deadline. So I decided to challenge them back. I had until one of them could successfully “Face The Cookie” to complete my bowl decoration. Yes, you know the game… put a cookie on your forehead, and then wriggle, scrunch & squirm until you can get the cookie into your mouth with no hands! I had plenty of time, and a few good laughs, until Dana finally got the cookie off her face and into her mouth!!! Fun for all.

Categories: classes, wheelthrowing

Towards the end of our final LILLSTREET THROWDOWN class, there was a twist!!! My students had “ganged up on me” and created their own set of challenges & contests for ME!!!… you know how I love a good twist & a good challenge!!!

Starting with blindly weighing clay, and then throwing two pots. You can see that I didn’t do so well on the blind “guessing” of weight. The ball on the bottom was my guess… everything on top of it is how far off I was!!!

First up was the throwing tall challenge… where I had to throw a cylinder over 12-inches tall with the five-pound ball of clay.

When I got the cylinder to the necessary 12-inch height… I decided to cut it in half right there in front of my students to see how even my walls were. I didn’t have a wire tool handy… so I just used the side of the ruler to cut with!

My next challenge was the three-pound ball to throw a bowl… oh yeah, blindfolded!!! I kinda knew that this challenge I did to them would somehow come back to bite me!

Since I had a little extra time left to my challenge, I decide to “show-off” just a little… and try a split rim pinched back together which is one of my standard bowl demo tricks. The split rim worked okay, but the pinching was a bit harder to do while still blindfolded!

And then I had to decorate my bowl with just one tool…
and their choice of tool???… another challenge I had thrown on them earlier in the season… coming back to bite me yet again!

And quite fittingly, for my single decorating tool… an single OREO!!!
So I started by blending my split-rim back together. And then started texturing the rim, and then adding curved lines in the interior!

So much fun! You know how I LOVE a good challenge. And the fact that my students came together and planned this whole “game” in advance… so touching & impressive. All the way down to typing out the challenge instructions & placing them in envelopes for the Big Reveal!

Categories: classes, creativity, handbuilding

Just when they thought they were done
as a fun little challenge for my LILLSTREET THROWDOWN class, I decided to divide them into teams of two for a little clay game. Kinda like PICTIONARY… but with clay instead of paper & pencils. Hysterical to watch this play out… as we were adding a few extra points that I was hoping would break a tie in the class standings.

Any idea what these two “insta-clay-drawings” might be?…

Lillstreet Art Center.
See the pot inside the building? Too funny!

Categories: classes

So we had a table full of building blocks… and what better to do with them than to SURPRISE Molly & Jacob with a little Baby Shower and a bunch of blocks for the baby-to-be! Everyone in the class was in on the surprise… well, except for Jacob & Molly. They were surprised when we “revealed” the blocks, said they were all for them… and then made them judge the winners!

And for those who may remember… a year ago we were “celebrating” the final night of our LILLSTREET THROWDOWN Season Two by making extruded vases for Jacob & Molly’s wedding!

Time flies. Memories made.