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

So I spent part of the night “processing” my clay… taking bags of kinda-wet reclaim, kinda-dry stoneware, and some random scraps of clay left over in a few bags sitting around my studio. It’s always nice to work them all together to make a “new” clay that is all evenly blended… and to get rid of a bunch of random clay bags lying around my studio!

Instead of wedging them all together, I like to alternate thinly sliced layers of each clay. Then I take the stack and cut it in half vertically… stacking one half on top of the other half. A little slam on the table, and then I repeat the slicing, stacking & slamming. Time after time. Eventually the clay layers thin out enough that the clay appears to be blended.

You can see that every time you slice and stack, the layers are getting thinner & thinner…

Sure, it still needs a little bit of wedging… but this is so much easier than wedging all of the clays together from the start!

Categories: clay, process, studio

So my reclaimed clay has been sitting out on my plaster bat for about a week in my studio. Tonight I finally decided it was time to tackle the large pile, cut it up, layer it, slice it, layer it more, pound it into cubes and then bag it up. The “real” wedging will happen when I get around to actually using the clay to make something!

Categories: clay, porcelain, process, studio

You know I LOVE TIE-DYEbut this is a little crazy!!!

It’s not actually tie-dye, it’s just another bag of my reclaimed porcelain clay! It’s been sitting around in my studio for quite awhile. And the sides that were facing outwards to the light grew this wonderfully green “algae” of sorts. Luckily, it’s just a bit of wedging before it’s all good to go again! And since we already have face masks… no worries!

Categories: clay, process, studio

While we’re all secluded and anxiously awaiting to “reclaim” our normal lives… I thought it was time to turn out another large batch of reclaim clay! A big pile of wonderfully gooey stoneware reclaimed clay ready to set-up on my plaster bat until it solidifies enough to start wedging up again!!! Gotta love FREE CLAY!!!

Categories: artists, clay

So yesterday was the first Instagram Live video tour of the Archie Bray ceramic facility in Montana. I’ve never been there… so it was a great chance to watch a little tour. And the best part… it was hosted by Steven Lee who was one of my former instructors at Lillstreet. I would consider him the best teacher that I had along the way… great potter, great teacher, great mentor!

Sadly, this Instagram Live event is done… but he did say they will be doing this regularly as part of their “new normal” at The Bray. So follow them on Instagram… I think the next LIVE event is this Friday!!! Such a wonderful way for Steve to get out there to share with all of us in the clay community during these trying times! Thank you Steve… again, a wonderful mentor!

Remember, the picture below was the announcement post for yesterday… but if you Follow on Instagram, you’ll see the posting for the next Instagram Live!

Categories: clay, porcelain, studio

Well, it looks like I’ve got some rather “ripe” porcelain reclaim clay piling up here in my studio. Nice & green… who knows… mold?… algae?… could be full-on seaweed at this point?! Either way, it’s going to wedge up great and all of that “bonus” color will burn away in the bisque firing.

FREE RECLAIM CLAY is always good… regardless of the color!!!

Categories: clay, process, studio

So my reclaim pile of clay has been sitting on my plaster bat for awhile…
as the extra moisture settles out and the clay stiffens up. It was still a bit sticky to the touch, but firm enough to get started with the cutting, wedging & bagging part of the process. I start by shaving off large chunks of the clay with my wire tool.

You can see that my reclaim clay mixture is just that… a MIXTURE.
I am more than willing to mix-up all of my assorted reclaim scraps. I will add in any kind of clay as long as it’s a high-fire cone 10 clay body. So you can see there are still some sections of porcelain, darker, ochre clay, lighter B-clay, some organic grayness… and unexpectedly, some blemishes of terra cotta red that must have gotten in there accidentally. Luckily, there wasn’t a lot… so I figure it will just blend in and add a bit of iron-richness to the clay… and it won’t affect the final firing temperature of the mixed clay.

Cause after all… as I tell my students… IT’S JUST CLAY!!!

I take the large chunks and lay them out on my wedging table so the canvas can soak out some more of the extra moisture. I do a very brief wedging of the clay, and then shave off layers and re-stack them into small piles.

I take the stacked piles, cut them in half and stack them back on themselves. Cut the stack in half and layer them on top of themselves again. Repeat a couple times and the layers begin to get thinner & thinner as the clay mixes evenly. It’s a LOT quicker & easier than just straight wedging. The layers squish together easily with a little bit of gravity & slamming down on the table to help along the way!

A bit of quick wedging, and then I set it aside to carve off another chunk from my reclaim pile.
Piece by piece… slice by slice… chunk by chunk…

As I wedge up the piles, the clay is still a bit wetter than I want, so I throw them out stretched as a quick slab… and stand them up so they get some extra air exposure.

Some more wedging of the pieces and they get placed in clear bags. I don’t worry too much about a “perfect” wedging at this point, as I know I will do more wedging when I get around to actually using the clay.

So after a couple hours of cutting, layering & wedging…
I now have well over a hundred pounds of reclaimed clay.
FREE CLAY just from a little work… my favorite kind of clay!!!






Categories: clay, process

It felt great to back in the studio today… even if it was just to make a few new stamps, water the plants, take down some Christmas decorations and to turn out a LOT of reclaim clay that’s been piling up & slaking down for quite awhile. Can’t wait to make something outta this big gooey mess!!!

Categories: clay, porcelain

Rainy morning means no sunrise… and an early morning in the studio playing with porcelain…. full of potential.

Categories: clay, creativity, lillstreet

If Rene Magritte were a potter…
he would have seen the humor as well. Strange pieces found in the clay reclaim buckets
by the Lillstreet Claymakers!

And a bit of Magritte inspiration…