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

As posted on Facebook this morning…
Looks like one of my Facebook Fans will be joining my Beginning & Advanced Beginning Wheelthrowing Class tonight at Lillstreet. If she’s been a “fan” for seven years, I hope I don’t disappoint?! That’s a lot of pressure to live up to. I may need to step up my game a bit?… and bring a LOT of Oreo’s?!!!

Categories: classes, soda-fired

Last night was the kick-off my new “Simply Soda” class at Lillstreet. It’s an introduction to the soda-firing process. So we did a quick overview, tour and started discussing colored flashing slips. But there’s really no better way to see what might happen during the firing process than to make your own test tiles… errr, cups! So last night my students threw a bunch of cups off-the-hump and then applied two swatches of colored slip on each side of the cup. We made two for each color so they can fire one in high-soda, and one in low-soda to see the difference. They were very productive… and hopefully it will all pay off with a lot of flashing slip “information” for them to use further down the road,

Categories: artists, classes, summer camp

Hard to believe that we’re already planning and scheduling Summer Camps!!!
Winter is finally ending, and I’m just looking forward to Spring.
But these adorable kids make me even more excited to see Summer get here!

The following is my schedule for teaching Summer Camps at Lillstreet Art Center.
I work with the older group of kids who constantly amaze, inspire and entertain me.
Summer camp is a wonderful experience for the kids and teachers who work together on all of the wonderful art projects… and good for the parents who get a few hours off! You can stop by the Front Desk at Lillstreet Art Center, call them or register online for Summer Camps. Registration is already open and filling fast. Click here for online information & registration.

Week C, June 19th-23rd – Wheelthrowing – 9:00am-1:00pm
Five days of fun where we start at the very beginning with wedging, centering & throwing. Kids will learn all of the basics, practice everyday and finish with glazing on Friday.

Week F, July 10th-14th – Chess Camp – 9:00am-3:30pm
Kids will make their own complete chess set out of clay in just five short days. Thematic sets are encouraged, no ordinary Kings, Queens & Rooks here! Actual chess experience is not mandatory… we’ll all learn a bit more along the way! Check?

Week H, July 24th-28thFire, Forge & Feast  – 9:00am-3:30pm
Admittedly the biggest & most fun camp of the whole Summer!!! But enough about me…
In this camp, the kids get to play with me and my friend Pam who teaches the metalsmithing portions. In the five-day camp, kids will design and create a full dinnerware place setting out of clay and metal. A lot of creative design & brainstorming to come up with their amazing themes. Two days of clay, two days of metals, and a lot of Friday fun finishing place settings and celebrating with a class Potluck Lunch!!!

Week I, July 31st-August 4th – Wheelthrowing  – 9:00am-1:00pm
More mud spinning & flinging as the kids learn how to wheelthrow from beginning to end. From wedging to glazing and every “muddy” step along the way!

Week J, August 7th-11th – Sculptures Big to Small  – 9:00am-3:30pm
In this camp the kids will each build their own sculptures after being inspired during a field trip to the Art Institute of Chicago and Millennium Park. A dash of art history will serve them well as they work on their own large-scale masterpieces!

Week K, August 14th-18th – Handbuilding & Wheelthrowing  – 9:00am-1:00pm
At this point in the summer, many campers have already taken a couple camps. Some of them have already thrown on the wheel, some of them have handbuilt pieces with clay. This week we’re going to do both – working to incorporate all of their skills into their pieces.

Week L, August 21st-25th – Wheelthrowing - 9:00am-1:00pm
My last week of Summer Camp will be another fun week of wheelthrowing. Spinning, centering, wedging and laughing… maybe an occasional joke along the way?! A great way to end my summer camp “tour of duty.”

If you’re interested in sending your kids to Summer Camp at Lillstreet, click here for their website. And then sign the kids up fast…. spaces are filling quickly!!!

It’s a “shame” that kid’s don’t like playing with clay?!!! Ha!!!
WE ALL LOVE SUMMER CAMP!!!

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Categories: artists, classes, creativity, inspiration

My students this past session LOVED challenges.
They asked for them!!! One night challenges. Long-term challenges.
So as part of our “throwing with intention” discussion… and trying to plan ahead and make what you want to make with purpose & intention… I challenged my class to a Masterpiece Challenge. I came to class with some sealed envelopes. And told my class that anyone who wanted to take on the challenge could. No details. No information. Just say yes… and you’re in. Almost everyone signed on.

Then they chose an envelope without knowing the contents.
And then I explained the game. Inside were images from random famous artists. And their challenge was to make a piece that was “inspired by, representative of, influenced by or in some other way similar to” the artist inside their envelope. I tried to choose famous artists who had a very identifiable style.

So they’ve been working on their pieces for a few weeks. Some of them made it to the final class, while others just didn’t quite make it done in time. I know there are a couple pieces still waiting to be fired. But… for the ones that finished, they were SPECTACULAR!!!

RENE’ MAGRITTE as interpreted by Catherine.
The photo doesn’t show it, but… the inside of the lidded jar top is a green apple!!!

GEORGIA O’KEEFFE as interpreted by Taylore.
Pretty literal. Pretty darn amazing!!!

ANDY WARHOL as interpreted by Taylore… double-duty, over-achiever..
From the Warhol “Legs & High Heels” collection…

GEORGE SEURAT as interpreted by Emily.
With s little pointillism with colored stains on Shaner Clear glaze.

FRANK STELLA as interpreted by Ryan.
Three different versions bringing Stella’s work to clay.

WALT DISNEY as interpreted by Stacey.
A wonderful rendition of Ursula from “The Little Mermaid” done as a chip & dip set.
Yes, the dip fits inside her belly!!! Brilliant Stacey!!!

And Melissa’s interpretation of M.C. ESCHER
her largest and most elaborate pottery piece yet!!! Unfortunately, timing got away from her a bit and Melissa’s is still in the greenware stage, but you can tell it’s going to be AMAZING!!!

 

Categories: classes, lillstreet, soda-fired

It’s amazing how fast a ten-week session can go by. This past Tuesday was the last class for our Winter session of classes. And my students out-did themselves once again!!!

Each session I like to challenge them with a class project. We all work on a similar piece and then we do some sort of White Elephant Trading Game. They each bring in their finished piece and we all admire & trade… then everyone goes home with someone else’s piece. So much fun for everyone… and great motivation for everyone to make something that they’re “proud enough of” to share and trade in the end.

So this session’s challenge was to make an oval. My brand new beginner’s had it a little bit easier… whereas my Advanved Beginners were challenged to make a lidded oval!!! And they all took it on with wreckless abandon!!!

Emily made this sweet little oval with carved vertical lines a temoku glaze.

Ryan made his oval glazed with Shaner White glaze and blue brushstrokes.

Lily went for a two-tone glaze dip with a beautiful overlap in the center.

Kerry missed the oval a bit, but made a great lidded round casserole with Reitz Green glaze.

Tony‘s oval casserole has a great rustic glaze to it.

Katie went for a two-tone Shaner White and Aviva’s Blue contrasting oval casserole.

Stacey used Reitz Green glaze to finish her oval, giving her a nice metallic finish on the lid.

Taylore used a color accent in her gallery, and a great pop of red inside the knob. A great contrast to the Shaner White glaze finish. Even better, and sadly no photo, but the inside has the same red pop of color too!!!

Melissa emphasized her oval and handle with a cobalt stain on Matte White glaze.

Rachel went with a traditional Shino glaze and got some wonderful variations.

Catherine went perfectly white on her perfect white porcelain.

Grace did a wonderful combination glaze on the outside of her casserole…

But it’s REALLY all about the inside of Grace’s oval that has me enamored!!!

And now you see why… my little stamping prodigy….

Susan, one of my class TA’s, offered up her graphic black & white porcelain oval.

Patty‘s oval didn’t quite turn out to her liking…
so she offered up a set of three bowls in place of her oval casserole!

Steven‘s oval casserole came home with me after the trade!!! And I LOVE it.
With a subtle matte glaze combination and a graphic stamp pattern…

But it’s the “surprise” pattern stamped on the inside that slays it!!!

And you know I’ve got to play along with the game, so I made an oval casserole for the trade as well. Surprisingly, mine is stamped and soda-fired!!! Ha!!!

And a few more “glamour” shots…
with a colored slip on the lid, and a few sprays of Josh Green glaze before soda-firing…

Huge thanks to my students for playing along. And for always embracing this little class challenge I like to throw at them every session. We’ve done bowls, mugs, plates, more mugs, and now ovals. I’m gonna need to think of something cool to top this one!!!

Save

Categories: classes, pottery

Last night was the last class of the Winter session.
Last class with a lot of student pots!!!
I always encourage my students to bring in their finished pots so we can all look at them. I especially love seeing how fer they’ve progressed during the 10-week class.

Categories: classes, food, holiday

Always looking for a good reason to celebrate… and eat PIE!!!
Tonight is the last night of my pottery class and we’re celebrating with a potluck as usual.
But today’s a holiday… NATIONAL Pi DAY !!!

So I planned ahead and baked two Chocolate Chip Tollhouse Pies.
Keeping it obvious for those slow on the take!
Pi…  3.14…  March 14th…  get it?! Any excuse for PIE!!!

Save

Save

Categories: bowls, classes, patterns, textures

I started this “beveled bowl” carving project as a demo for my class a couple weeks back. It has taken a “little longer” than expected… a little bit here, a little bit there… and I feel like I could keep “cleaning it up” forever. But tonight I finally called it “done.” Of course I had to keep telling myself “It’s just a demo, it’s just a demo…” I started by throwing a bowl with slightly thicker walls than usual. And let it stiffen up a soft leatherhard so I could trim a nice foot. Then I brought the bowl to class to start the demo. I used my Xacto knife to incise horizontal lines while the bowl was on the wheel. Then I moved it over to a banding wheel and incised vertical lines. Hopefully evenly spaced… I eye-balled it, so who knows… but it created sixteen sections. The incising is to establish “sections” that will be carved, as well as cut lines so the bevels “pop out” better later. Do NOT carve all the way through the bowl!!!

Then it’s time to start carving… I attack one square at a time. Beveling the section from top to bottom in one row, and then bottom to top in the adjacent rows. The effect is alternating bevel directions all the way around the bowl. Yes, this is going to take awhile… sixteen vertical sections and five horizontal bands. That makes 80 squares to carve!!!

One by one. All the way around. Trying to keep it clean and consistent. Of course you’ll need to go over each section a couple times. Some come out cleaner than others… some will be a struggle. I would also recommend not doing this trick with clay that has a loft of grog in it. The smoother the clay the cleaner the carving will be without revealing a lot of rough grog chunks.

Of course I could keep going.. keep carving… keep cleaning. The smoother the lines the better, but seriously, at some point I just had to call this one done. It’s JUST a class demo after all. A lot of work to show off a fun carving “trick.” Hopefully the glaze will cover up the parts that I “gave up” on!!! And maybe a little Dremel sanding before glazing if worse comes to worse… and my OCD kicks in before it gets glazed. I could work on this one forever…

Save

Save

Save

Save

Categories: classes, porcelain, tools

So I subbed this morning for Lisa’s advanced class. At their request, we worked on lidded oval casseroles as they had seen my Beginners working on theirs here on Facebook. After the oval demo, some of them were carving & adding surface decorations. I ran upstairs to grab my new Zebra Carving Tools from my studio. They loved them too! As you can see here by the little leaves Deborah was carving on the side of her porcelain jar.

And the sketch that started it all…

Save

Categories: classes, process, stamps, textures

I began my Tuesday evening by throwing a lot of cylinders in my studio. I had a plan…
I was on a mission… and my wheelthrowing class was going to be starting soon!

So I received a package of few carving tools in the mail awhile back… so exciting!!!
And I’m always telling my students to experiment, to try new things, to break out of their shells. To remember that it’s JUST CLAY!!! But I get it… my Beginners are working so hard to make each and every cylinder. It’s a lot of work. A lot of centering & focus. So much so that each piece is somehow considered “too precious” to experiment with. So tonight I plan to test them… to push them a bit… to show them that it’s NOT so precious. I figured if I provide them with already thrown cylinders, all of the “hard part” is done, right?

So I threw a bunch of cylinders and brought the down to class with me. I explained my “not-so-precious” texture & surface decoration challenge to them. I encouraged them each to do anything they wanted to the surface of their cylinder. To carve, slip, stamp, whatever!!! Just have fun… and see what happens with their new-found “freebie” not-so-precious cylinder!!! And here they go…

After class, I did a little “photo shoot” in my studio before they started to dry.

SO HERE”S YOUR CHALLENGE : Can you guess which ones are mine?!

Special thanks to Robert at C.I. Products for sending me a little “care package” of tools to try out. I’ve been kind of busy through the holidays… and finally found some time to try them out. And why not share my new tools with my students?! These Zebra Trimming Tools are pretty darn amazing. They took us a little while to get used to them. The blades are at a different angle than Kemper Tools…. and adjustable!!! The wood is so lightweight… and the foam grip pretty sweet too. But it’s really the extra-sharp blades that cut such a smooth clean line with nice line definition. I definitely look forward to using them more in my own work. Seeing what kinds of great textures & patterns I can come up with using these great new Zebra Tools!!! Thanks again Robert… your tools are GREAT!

Click here to see the wide assortment of tools from C.I. Products.
Or here to go straight to the Zebra Trimming Tools.
You’ll be glad you did… especially those of you who are carving crazy cool patterns, making cool textures and doing a lot of sgraffito or mishima.

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save