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

Finally got around to wedging up my pile of reclaimed clay! It sat on my large plaster bat for awhile as the extra moisture evaporated & the clay was finally stiff enough to wedge. So a little “elbow-grease” and now several bags of FREE CLAY!!! My favorite kind of clay!!!

Categories: clay, process, studio

After a long & enjoyable holiday break, I figured it was finally time to venture back into the studio to turn out another batch of reclaim clay. It’s been slaking down in my reclaim bin for a little longer than normal… so I actually had to add a little water back in to soften it up a bit… just so I could turn it out to dry it up again!!! HA!!!

Categories: clay, process, studio

Spending a little time this evening crushing up some of my dried reclaim scraps… trying to make them as small as possible so that they slake down faster in my reclaim bin. Sure, it takes a little effort.. but reclaimed clay is the best! Because it’s FREE!!!

Categories: artists, clay, collaborations, handbuilding, wheelthrowing

So I had a little “summer camp” situation in my studio over the summer. My friend Kristen asked if her kids could stop by for a little “private” summer camp experience in my studio. I’ve known the kids forever… so of course I said yes. Although I haven’t really done much with them since they took my Lillstreet Chess Camp a couple years back.

We started with some wheelthrowing lessons, and then they each gave it a try. AJ went first, followed by Lizzy. I think they were both a little surprised that it wasn’t quite as easy as it looks!

But then I also “flipped the script” a bit on them… and told them they would have a handbuilding project as well. They thought they would be able to make whatever they wanted…. but, oh no, that’s not how I play!

I think they had all kinda forgotten about a little drawing that AJ had done back when he was in second grade. He was trying to raise money to buy himself a new set of LEGO’s… and his mom Kristen set-up a little gallery show for him to show-off his artwork. I purchased this drawing at that gallery show… and have had it in my studio ever since.

So I pulled it out… and challenged them each to make a handbuilt “cup” that was “inspired” by AJ’s monster drawing from so many years ago.

On their next visit, they trimmed their wheelthrown pieces, and finished working on their handbuilt monster cups. The final touches were put on with some colored underglazes. Once they dry, I will bisque fire the monster cups and glazed them with a clear glaze. Their wheelthrown pots will be glazed as well… to match their color choices of course!

As you can see, Lizzy went for a more literal approach in building her cup. I especially liked her use of textures to mimic the patterns in the drawing. While AJ went a little off on his own “version” of the monster… with a great triple-eye & vertical mouth situation!

So much fun playing with these kids… they were so much fun. Glad we could work out this Mini Summer Camp this summer… two days of clay fun in my studio with AJ & Lizzy!

Categories: clay

After a crazy flurry of pottery & Pirate production in my studio lately… it was a MESS!!! It felt great to do a little cleaning & re-organizing today. Including pulling out a new batch of reclaimed clay. This time a large pile of porcelain that I received dry in bags from a friend who doesn’t like to reclaim her own clay. So I do the labor… and I get a pile of FREE PORCELAIN!!!

Categories: clay, lillstreet

When the classroom reclaim buckets seem to take on a life of their own!!!

Categories: clay, terra cotta, The Ghouls Collection

Here we go… time for some terra cotta wheelthrowing!!!
Slimy, messy, dirty fun!!!

Categories: clay, summer camp

Getting all muddy & dirty sure is fun!!!

Categories: clay, porcelain, process, studio

After pulling my reclaim out of my orange reclaim bin, it was time to re-fill it with some more clay scraps. I’ve had these bags sitting in the corner of my studio for two months now… ever since my trip to Minnesota for the St. Croix River Valley Pottery Tour. And today was the day to get rid of them!

One of my pottery friends lives up in Minneapolis and for some reason chooses not to reclaim her own clay. Instead she bags it up… and luckily for me, it’s waiting for me to take each year when I’m up there for the pottery tour. Sure, it’s a lot of work… but I think it’s well worth it… FREE PORCELAIN?… I’m in!!!

So I dumped out the clay one bag at a time. And went after it with a rolling pin to break it all down to small pieces which will “dissolve” faster and create a smoother reclaim slurry.

But then I found a few bags that much larger chunks in them… so I had to pull out the big guns… and actually break it up with a hammer… before I could rolling pin it!!!

The finer the clay is pulverized, the smoother my reclaim will be… which kinda equates to less wedging later. So it behooves me to do the work upfront before it goes into the reclaim bin.

So now all of the porcelain scraps have been broken down and put into my bin… covered with water, and stirred up. It will sit in there for two weeks or so until I’m ready to pull out the reconstituted clay to put back on the plaster bat to dry it out. Sure, it’s a good amount of work… but FREE CLAY is FREE CLAY… and FREE PORCELAIN is even better!!

Categories: clay, process, studio

After weeks of slaking down, it was finally a good day to pull out my latest batch of reclaim clay. Lots of scraps, trimmings & dried clay bits all soaked down in my big orange bin… and now setting out on a large plaster bat. The clay will sit on the bat for a few days as it slowly absorbs the water and helps to dry out the clay. When the clay gets stiffer, there’s a LOT of wedging in my future! But I’m in… FREE CLAY is the best clay!!!