Gary Jackson: Fire When Ready Pottery
A Chicago potter’s somewhat slanted view of clay & play
Categories: classes, collaborations, color, creativity, surface decoration

It’s Underglaze Madness!!!

So we’ve seen a recent interest & surge in underglaze transfers around Lillstreet Art Center! Tons of students are starting to use these pre-made, commercial underglaze transfer sheets to add some surface decoration to their pots. We’ve had some recent discussions on whether these transfers are “cheating” or not?! I’ve also enjoyed watching some of my students trying different techniques to modify or use these transfers in different ways.

In my Intermediate Wheelthrowing class, Darcy has been using a lot of underglaze transfers on her work. We’ve all sort of fallen in love with this great mandala pattern.

We’ve also been giving her a hard time… by telling her how much better they would look if the back & white mandala were painted-in with bright colors! You know, kinda like a little paint-by-number fill-in situation. Luckily, also in this class is Christine who is all about bright colors & underglazes. Sounds like the perffect match, right?!

So we keep teasing Christine that it’s HER job to paint these in… and that’s going nowhere fast. Christine is not bowing to any sort of fun peer pressure!

But then Darcy came up with a great idea… and a fun challenge. She offered to make some basic cylinders, and then let us decorate them with colorful underglazes… and then she would put the underglaze transfers OVER the colored underglazes. She offered it up to our whole class… but only Christine & I took her up on it. So we each got two cylinders to decorate as part of Darcy’s challenge!

So my thought was to sponge-paint some blended colors onto the cylinder that might “mimic” and possible align a bit with the underglaze transfer.

And Christine went a different route with her ombre’ blend of underglazes. She had chosen a different pattern for her underglaze transfer… so she wasn’t as concerned with her pattern “matching-up” with the transfer pattern. Instead she went with two different ombre’ blends.


Luckily, Christine has a great assortment of underglazes that she has tested, tried at different firing temperatures and made amazing test tiles with. Thanks to Christine for sharing her high-fire underglazes… and for letting me use her colors for this fun little challenge!

After a couple layers of underglaze, we both called the “done” for our part of the Darcy Challenge!

And then Darcy came in later that night and added the underglaze transfers OVER our underglaze paintings! Pretty impressive… I think they look pretty great so far. Can’t wait to see what they look like after firing and a light layer of clear glaze to really make the colors pop!

Thanks for the challenge Darcy!!!
You know how much I LOVE a good challenge… and having people prove me wrong about the underglaze transfers being a way of “cheating.” I might need to reconsider when these come out of the kiln???

Categories: collaborations, friends, mugs

A few weeks before Christmas, I was contacted by the boyfriend of a good customer-friend of mine. I’ve known Allison for several years… and now her boyfriend Terry had a Christmas “plan” for Allison. He decided he wanted me to make a “custom” mug just for Allison… something… err, ANYTHING with moon & starts on it. Since his request was a little to close to Christmas, I knew I didn’t have time for a good soda-fired mug. So I had to go another route!

I decided to go for a little more whimsical approach… with some fun textured stars, colorful underglazes & a moon that rattles!!!

After it dried, I had to bisque fire it and give it a coat of glaze. In the effort of time, and my “control” over the firing schedule, I decided to go for a clear cone 6 glaze. It gave the mug a nice shine, and helped “pop” the colors!

So then Christmas came… and Allison received her surprised commission mugs! Oh yes… plural… TWO MUGS as Terry came to my studio to make one of his own for Allison too! She seems like she was totally diggin’ the “moon & starts” vibe of her gifts!

The mug that Terry made started with a wheelthrown cylinder I pre-made for him, and trimmed the bottom. He handbuilt the accents & details… with lettering that says STAR SHINE!!! After he finished his piece, I had to bisque fire it, and glaze it to his glaze choices & specifications.

Little did Terry know that Allison had pre-purchased a special mug for Terry’s Christmas Gift as well!!! She had come to my Holiday Home Shows and picked out one of my soda-fired mugs with pointy spikes on them… little tetrahedron stamps to give it a fun detail.

Looks like Allison & Terry’s mugs already have a special place of honor… joining the others on custom shelving unit for their combined Mug Collection!

So exciting to be part of a quickly-blossoming Mug Collection!!! Surrounded by some textured & colored cuties by my friend Cory McCrory… and a few I don’t recognize?!

Categories: artists, collaborations, My Talented Friends

Just dropped off two new soda-fired frames with my friend & painter Mary Foster… just finishing up one last Christmas collaboration commission before the holidays! We’ve done several “pottery & painting” collaboration pieces this year… and already discussing next year!

Considering some new options… and not to give anything away,
but I’ll give you two words… WOOD… CUT…. fingers crossed…

Categories: collaborations

And for those of you who weren’t able to make it to The Cozy Cottage…. we do have five collaboration pieces available for sale only on my Fire When Ready Pottery Facebook page! Textured picture frames by me with an original gouache painting by Mary Foster. They will be available there through Friday night… after that they will go to MY HOLIDAY HOME SHOW!

COLLABORATION #1 – White Flowers on a green ceramic frame.

COLLABORATION #2 – Birch Trees on a blue ceramic frame.

COLLABORATION #3 – Woodland Trail on an amber brown ceramic frame.

COLLABORATION #4 – Cozy Cottage on a green ceramic frame.

COLLABORATION #5 – Nighttime Trees on an amber brown ceramic frame.

My textured ceramic frames are 7.25″x 6″… and Mary Foster’s original gouache paintings are 3.5″x 2.5″… with a metal sawtooth hanger on the back. They are $135 each which includes packing & shipping within the contiguous US. We’re going old school ONLY on my Fire When Ready Pottery Facebook page… so if you would like to purchase one… just be the first person to say “MINE” in the Facebook Comments section of each individual photo… NOT on the main Facebook page… and NOT here on the blog’s Comments section. I will follow-up through Facebook with more information as each painting is claimed. Happy Shopping!

Click here to go directly to my Fire When Ready Pottery Facebook page!

Categories: art fair, artists, collaborations

Well, here they are… all done with just a couple hours to spare! THE COZY COTTAGE POP-UP starts at 6:00pm tonight… and I can’t wait to have people see this latest batch of collaboration pieces between painter Mary Foster & myself. We had a great time working on these together for this Pop-Up Shop!

Any guesses?… Which one goes to a new home first???

Here’s the details for THE COZY COTTAGE POP-UP

Categories: art fair, artists, collaborations

Our latest collaborations are coming together nicely! Wonderful little gouache paintings by Mary Foster are being paired up with my textured picture frames! We have more than a dozen of them ready for this weekend’s COZY COTTAGE POP-UP!!! They’re one-of-a-kind original artworks… and very limited. When they’re gone, they’re gone! The POP-UP starts tomorrow night from 6:00-9:00pm, and then continues all day Saturday from 10:00am-5:00pm. We would love to have you stop by The Cozy Cottage!

Mary Foster’s House : 4144 North Kenneth Avenue, Chicago 60641

Categories: art fair, artists, collaborations

And it looks like it’s not just me doing a collaboration with the talented Mary Foster… as metalsmith Amy Taylor has been working on some colorful collaboration pieces with Mary as well. Like this beautiful lady bug brooch… or the morning glory one in the background. All of the one-of-a kind collaborations will be “revealed” Friday night at THE COZY COTTAGE POP-UP… which continues all day Saturday as well. We hope that you might be able to stop by to see some fun artwork by some of My Talented Friends!

4144 North Kenneth Avenue, Chicago 60641
Friday 6:00pm-9:00pm & Saturday 10:00am-5:00pm

Categories: collaborations, glaze, stamped, textures

So my textured picture frames just came out of the glaze kiln… and I’m totally diggin’ the colors, the textures and how well they’re all playing together! Now I just need to pair them up with Mary Foster’s mini-paintings for THE COZY COTTAGE POP-UP this Friday & Saturday. Always fun to put her colorful gouache paintings in my textured picture frames!

Categories: art fair, collaborations, production, stamped, textures

Well, it was bound to happen.. another batch of textured picture frames as part of another upcoming collaboration with painter Mary Foster. We first introduced these collaboration pieces at ART IN THE GARDEN this summer… and kinda figured we should do it again for THE COZY COTTAGE POP-UP in November. She’s already got a head-start on her paintings… so I felt as though I had better get my act together too!

Categories: artists, collaborations

Looks like my pal Mary Foster is back making some more mini-paintings… now if only there was “someone” who could make some creative picture frames to go with them?… maybe out of clay?… maybe another collaboration?… hmmm, just thinking out loud…