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

After a couple crazy weeks of getting ready for ART IN THE BARN, it felt great to be back in the studio “calmly” cleaning up, re-organizing and setting out another large batch of reclaimed clay!

Categories: clay, porcelain, process, studio

I’ve had some piles of dried clay in my studio for some time now. Bags & bags of dried porcelain scraps waiting to be reclaimed. And the BEST part?… it’s all FREE CLAY!!! Because this is not even MY reclaim scraps! Instead, they are scraps from a potter friend of mine up in Minneapolis who doesn’t feel it’s worth her time & effort to reclaim her own clay. So I get to pick up her scraps every Spring when I go up for the Minnesota Pottery Tour.         SCORE!!!

So I took all of the dried scraps out of the bags a started breaking them up. It was surprising to me how many large pots & pieces there were still intact in the bags? And what fun it was to bang them up & pulverize them into a fine powder.

I also cleaned out my orange reclaim bin… as I had “dirty” stoneware in there last.
And I wanted to start with a clean bin for my “clean” porcelain reclaim.

Once the clay was broken up & pulverized into small pieces. I started dumping it all into the bin. Good News. Bad News… BAD – There was more reclaim than my bin would hold. GOOD – There was more reclaim than my bin would hold so that’s A LOT of free clay!

When the bin was full of scraps, I added a few buckets full of water. The plan is to “submerge” the clay scraps under water. I then took a long stick and stirred it up as best I could.

This orange bin of goopey clay will sit and slake down for a couple weeks while I work on other stuff. I’ll stir it up a couple more times, add some more water as needed. When I feel that it has all dissolved… and the extra water has started to evaporate, I’ll turn it our on the a lrage plaster bat to help get the excess water out… then it’s a LOT of wedging… but then it’s also a LOT of FREE PORCELAIN!!!

 

 

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Categories: clay, process, summer camp, terra cotta

Apparently no one can resist a bucket full of smooth & creamy terra cotta slip?!

As part of camp, I teach the kids how to make slip.
Actually, it’s kind of a “punishment” for letting their clay dry out too much to use.
We try to keep everything under plastic while they’re working to avoid drying out.
But sometimes they just “forget.”

So to encourage them to remember, I make them flatten the clay out so we can let it dry completely. The next day the use a rolling pin to pulverize it as best they can so we can re-hydrate it back into a nice smooth slip. Apparently, the “punishment” is a bit too FUN for the campers!!!

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Categories: clay, mugs, process, production

Kicking off the day with a pile of wedged clay balls…
oh, what to make?… what to make?… why not start with “my favorites”???

A quick batch of soon-to-be-mug cylinders! You know how I LOVE making mugs!!!

Categories: clay

Let’s just say that my car was riding a “little bit lower” than usual Saturday
after a stop at Continental Clay in Minneapolis… that and a lot of porcelain scraps to reclaim
when I get back from a potter friend who doesn’t?!!!

 

Categories: clay, process, studio

After some time stiffening up on my plaster bat, my latest batch of reclaim clay
was finally ready to pound up last night after a “slight” bit of wedging and bagging up.
I’ll let it sit for a while longer… before I start doing a “real” wedging
and actually making work out of this FREE CLAY!!!

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Categories: clay, process, studio

Another pile of goopey, mucky reclaim clay piled out onto my plaster bat.
Sure it’s kind of messy… but I must admit it is a bit fun too.
Gratifying when you see it all turn back into free clay…
and you know how I love FREE CLAY!!!

Categories: classes, clay

Not bad for one bag of clay, huh?
Another project in the works… one I’ve been “putting off” for quite awhile now!
Finally decided to get it done! So now I’ve got some stamping to do!!!

Categories: clay, porcelain, process, studio

Another pile of slop! This time it’s a creamy blend of porcelain reclaim sitting on my plaster bat. Should be ready to wedge in a day or so… and then it’s FREE CLAY ready to go!!!

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Categories: clay, process, studio

My latest batch of goopey reclaim clay has finally settled up after about a week on the plaster bat. So today I pounded it up a bit with just a smidge of wedging. Full wedging will take place when I’m actually ready to use the clay. Until then it will be bagged up for storage. Storage of FREE CLAY that is!!!

But it seems to never fail, that as soon as I finish up with one batch of reclaimed clay…
it’s already time to start the next batch! So here are some dried scraps ready to go.

And I pulverize them as fine as possible with a rolling pin before putting them into my reclaim bin. Once the clay is in the bin, I add enough water to cover the clay scraps. I let it sit for a few weeks with some occasional stirring & mixing up. Eventually the clay slakes down, the water evaporates and I’m ready to pull out the reconstituted clay onto my large plaster bat… and another cycle begins…

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