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

Last night in class, one of my students brought in some cool new pottery tools to play with… more fun from DiamondCore Tools !!!

With her new trimming tool… and one of the NEWEST Extruder Tools! We just had to break open that box and give them a little test drive! Thanks for letting us play with your new toys Kate!

Categories: bowls, classes, tools

Tonight in my pottery class we tackled berry bowls… I showed them how much fun it is to play with power tools & pottery!!! The little burrs left behind will brush off easily when the bowls are totally dry.

Categories: bowls, classes, process, stamped, surface decoration

After my sprigged demo bowl, my students started with the sprigs to decorate their plain demo bowls. So much fun to watch my SURFACE DECORATION students excited to try new things on the plain bowls I surprised them with… as stamping & sprigs can be quite addictive… I should know – HA!

Categories: bowls, classes, process, production, stamped, stamps, surface decoration

So last night after stamping, my SURFACE DECORATIONS class switched to using sprig molds for their textured decorations. We just pressed clay into the molds, popped them out and then “scored & slipped” them into place! I don’t do a lot of sprig work, so it was kind of fun to watch my demo bowl evolve one layer at a time… a row of sprigs…some stamps… maybe a scalloped edge… some more stamps… and maybe some holes… wait, what?!

I always have trouble knowing when to stop… as MORE IS MORE.
But I do think it’s done – after a bit more cleaning up!

Categories: classes, stamped, stamps, surface decoration, textures

After my quick stamping demo, my SURFACE DECORATION students set-off to start stamping their own pieces & the bowls I gave them. So much fun to see them getting their groove on… and adding grooves & textures into the clay! So much fun for all of us… as MORE IS MORE!

Categories: bowls, classes, surface decoration

For tonight’s SURFACE DECORATION class, we’re going to be working with stamps & sprigs! And since I figured my students might need something “plain” to decorate… I “might have” thrown a few bowls for them to play with… allegedly. Can’t wait to see what they do with them!!!

Categories: classes, surface decoration

Last night was the first night of my new Surface Decoration Techniques class at Lillstreet. We started with introductions & overviews… and then started off with our first technique. I pulled out some thick colored slip to add some texture, pattern & color to a few basic bowls & cylinders… and hopefully some fun effects when we get to glazing these pieces!

I first added a layer of thick white slip on the interior of the bowl. I showed them a few different patterns… spirals, squiggles… wiping & smoothing it back after each one. We “ended” with a spiral in the bottom and a rib-fluted pattern around the rim.

Pretty much the same technique of Bowl #1… just with a thicker layer of slip. I felt that the rib-fluted edge wasn’t apparent enough the first time. And I like how the thicker slip made it more look more intentional.

Another layer of thick white slip, and then a chattered pattern added throughout. I uses a rounded rib, and tapped the slip by moving the rib up & down… and up & out… while the bowl was spinning. The pattern is created by the speed of the chattered tapping, the speed moving up, and the speed of the wheel’s rotation!

For this bowl we did an ombre’ blend of white & green slips. A simple blending of colors. I feel it still looks kinda plain, so I think there “might be” a little bit of carving to come on this one!!!

For this bowl, I “tried” to squirt a perfect spiral of black slip into the bowl while it was spinning. But the slip was a bit too thick and didn’t come out of the bottle smoothly…. spurt… spurt… sputter… glops!!! So then we needed to “fix” that… so I smoothed it out with a rubber rib giving it an uneven black slip surface with some clay still showing through. We liked the marble effect… but it seemed a bit wimpy. So I added a spiral dragged through at the end.

We’ve all seen this technique showing up on our Instagram Feed from Joe Thompson @oldforgecreations… so we decided to give it a go! Not a real success… the slip was a bit too gloppy… there were a few “chunks” in it. But when I squirted it on… and then tapped it down a bit to make the slip move… we did get a lot of “oohs & ahhs” from my students!!! Definitely not as easy as Joe makes it look… but fun!

We decided to try another version of the drippy slip technique. This time with two colors of slip. I tried to add a “stripe” of green slip down the side of a squirt bottle… and then add more white slip “on top” of the the green. Idea being that when squirted out, you would get more white slip with a little undercolor of green. Kinda gloppy… but not bad for our first attempts! I’m pretty sure I’ll be leaving this technique for Joe who perfected it for us!!!


This time I covered the exterior with thick white slip, and then dragged a rounded rib across the outside to make these horizontal ribbed grooves.


For this cylinder, I tried again to make a “perfect” spiral going down the outside with a squirt bottle filled with slip. But again, it sputtered & spurted. So I draged a rubber rib across it and it surprisingly made this marble-clay-like effect. Done... and so much easier that actually making colored clay and throwing with two colors in a marbled clay!

Because I was having a bit too much sputtering & spurting with the squeeze bottles, I added some water to them and shook them up. But maybe a bit too much water?… as it wouldn’t hold its shape & thickness any more. So when I squeezed the white on the side at the top, it just ran down and covered the exterior. So I tried adding some green, and it too ran down and covered the entire exterior. So I tried again, and again, and again… each time trying to vary the amount of slip squirting out. At some point, my layers started to give me a groovy-drippy tie-dyed look… so I stopped!

And for now they’re all in my studio under wraps.
Today I’ll open them up and do a bit of details & refining.

Categories: artists, classes, color, mugs

GOOD NEWS! Looks like one of my students made “The Show-Off Shelf” at Lillstreet. Whoo-Hoo!!! Christine is coming in for my class tonight so she’ll be thrilled when she sees her colorful masterpieces proudly on display!… and a couple flowerpots still on the racks!

Categories: classes, process

Just doing a little trimming project for my friend Mike. Refining & trimming the exterior of a fresh pinch pot form he’s using in his slip-cast mold-making class tonight at Lillstreet. A few refinements using my DiamondCore Trimming Tools to get the shape & smooth finish he was looking for!

Categories: artists, classes, mugs

And coincidentally, I went home with a mug from Kate, and a mug from Kathleen! So we kinda “traded” after a good amount of switching & stealing along the way!

Kate’s mug has a shino glaze base with a green glaze squirted on as an accent that does amazing things during the firing.

Kathleen went a bit more “structured” with thin tape lines to block out her primary colored design using underglazes.

Each of them a nice addition to my already overflowing Mug Collection!