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

With the Lakefront Bike Trail still shut-down, I’ve been going in the other direction! Yesterday I made my way up north through a maze of side streets to get to The Bahai Temple. I don’t know much about the faith, but I will say that I think this is one of the most beautiful buildings in the Chicagoland area! With over-the-top ornate design on every surface… they don’t make them like this any more!

And I apologize in advance… there are a LOT of photos in the Photo Album. I edited it down as far as I could… but the building is gorgeous from every angle, every frame, every detail.

But this was yesterday’s bike ride destination…
still self-isolating… still riding by myself.

And if you look at the photos, there were only TWO other people on the property while I was there! CAN YOU FIND THEM IN THE PHOTOS??? They’re there somewhere!

Categories: creativity

Crazy times call for crazy measures…
and you know I’ve got a few extra bandanas leftover from our blindfolded-throwing challenge!!! So these may not be truly HEPA-filter approved, but they would still be better than nothing when you’re venturing out. Easy to wash in the laundry too! Kinda looks like it’s just a bandana and two hair bands… or maybe rubber bands for those of us with less hair to deal with?

Click here to watch the video on Facebook!

Categories: Chicago, creativity, YouTube

Okay, so Mayor Lori Lightfoot totally locked down the Chicago Lakefront yesterday. Too many people gathering on Wednesday while it was so nice out. So now those of us who were consistently using the lakefront trail for exercise with appropriate social distancing are LOCKED OUT, along with everybody else. But here’s a good one… see what Elsa thinks about being LOCKED IN.

Click here to watch Elsa’s LOCKED IN video on YouTube!

Categories: creativity, flowers, mosaic, nature

So yesterday while it was so BEAUTIFUL outside… and far too many idiots were flooding the lakefront without any social distance… I decided to go for a run in the other direction! Literally.

I went for a run out to the West Ridge Nature Preserve… a little unknown nugget of nature… with a couple beautiful mosaic pieces to welcome you in. Isolated enough to be totally safe for those of us still social distancing while we get out for some exercise on a beautiful day!

Categories: classes, creativity

For my THROWDOWN “Decorating With An Oreo” Challenge… there wasn’t a time deadline. So I decided to challenge them back. I had until one of them could successfully “Face The Cookie” to complete my bowl decoration. Yes, you know the game… put a cookie on your forehead, and then wriggle, scrunch & squirm until you can get the cookie into your mouth with no hands! I had plenty of time, and a few good laughs, until Dana finally got the cookie off her face and into her mouth!!! Fun for all.

Categories: classes, creativity, handbuilding

Just when they thought they were done
as a fun little challenge for my LILLSTREET THROWDOWN class, I decided to divide them into teams of two for a little clay game. Kinda like PICTIONARY… but with clay instead of paper & pencils. Hysterical to watch this play out… as we were adding a few extra points that I was hoping would break a tie in the class standings.

Any idea what these two “insta-clay-drawings” might be?…

Lillstreet Art Center.
See the pot inside the building? Too funny!

Categories: artists, creativity, murals

Enjoying a stroll through the West side with a few colorful murals catching my eye… they always make me smile!!! Another mural. Another giggle.

Categories: classes, creativity

And “speaking of spoons”….
For a little fun diversion in class this week, I decided we should stick with the theme and play a little game. We pulled names randomly out of a hat and matched up twosomes. The contest was to see who could suspend a metal spoon on their nose the longest. The winner of each match-up moved onto the finals. Some people had never tried this game before… some were good at it… some were not… but either way, it was PURE ENTERTAINMENT for ME!!!

Confident & never-wavering Helen…

Norah was so confident that she started using the time to check her phone, mails, & more… perhaps a strategy to psych out the others?!

While Molly was trying to find her Zen place…

Categories: color, creativity, summer camp

So I’ve been a fan of tie-dyed t-shirts for a VERY long time.
And for those who are not at Lillstreet on a regular basis, you might be surprised that I wear one pretty much every day that I’m in the studio! I think it’s the colors, the patterns, the fun activity of making the tie-dye… and some sort of childhood flashback to Summer Camp fun. Yes, my very first job ever was a Summer Camp counselor… and look at me now… STILL a Summer Camp counselor!!!

And with Summer Camp coming up again… and PROJECT RUNWAY focusing on tie-dye as high fashion last week… I felt it was time to step-up my game and make some new t-shirts!!! And thanks to my friend Jill Miller of Hooey Batiks for inspiring me with a little tutorial advice on how to ice-dye! Didn’t sound too difficult… so here I go…

No need to tie them all up with tight rubber bands… more of a crumpling and “holding in place” with a couple rubber bands. Its going to be the ice and the dye that does all the work! So I decided to start with four shirts… two new white ones, and two colored shirts that have a couple stains “to be creative-camouflaged away.”

And then I covered the four t-shirts with a bag of ice cubes from the convenient store.
I tried my best to cover every part of the shirts.

Then you sprinkle dry dye powder on top of the ice. It’s kind of “random” as you’re sprinkling… I’m more accustomed to dipping into colors where you can “control” what part you dip into what. Sure, the folding, twisting & crumpling are all part of the pattern & end result… but I’m not so confident on the colors I”m going to get out of this pile of ice & color?!!! I’m thinking this might come with practice… but this is my first try… so here we go!

As the ice melts, the powder dye dissolves and kind of “travels” with the water as it drips & seeps into the fabric.

And it seemed like this batch went well… my first time ice-dying…
so why not do two more quick while I’m all set-up?

So here’s a quick peek at my new tie-dyed shirts… actually more “ice-dyed”… but you get the idea. I’m pretty excited for these new designs & patterns. I’m kinda digging the ice-dyed technique. A lot easier, quicker and “newer” than traditional tie-dye with a ton of rubber bands! Don’t get me wrong… I still have rubber bands… I still have dye… and I still have t-shirts… never say never!

Unfortunately, these still need to be washed to get some of the extra dye out…
which is also when you lose some of the beautifully vibrant colors.
I wish there was a way to keep them this bright… but they’re just t-shirts, right?!!!



Categories: classes, creativity, mugs

This week at our LILLSTREET THROWDOWN class, my students brought back their set of four matching cylinders… now turned into matching mugs! Well kinda. Their week-long challenge was to convert their matching cylinders to matching mugs in terms of construction. And then to decorate them to be a good “matching” set where the cups don’t actually match, but have a great continuity of design that ties them all together. And oh, but wait there’s more… they also had to utilize at least four out of the five patterns… * spirals * stripes * polka dots * plaids * paisley.  With an added contingency that all four cups could NOT be identical in design. Just how I like it…. vaguely specific! And open to a lot of interpretation… as longs as they made their decoration “creative, thoughtful, deliberate & beautiful.”

So here we go… quite a few exciting & creative  entries into this week’s THROWDOWN challenge!

Taylor’s tall mugs with carved details…

Melanie’s “petticoat-inspired” colorful mugs with perfectly matching round handles.

Helen’s short stoneware mugs with carved accents…

Dana’s tall cylinders… whoops, no handles?… with beautifully carved patterns.

Jen’s cuties with carved “diagonal” details…

Molly’s colorful animal-inspired mugs… where each animal is based on one of the patterns!

Stacey went for a more “business” look with patterned ties on each cup!

Jacob went for detailed texture on his set which is destined for the soda kiln…
during the Soda-Firing Workshop I’ll be teaching next month at Lillstreet Art Center.

Coming in at second place, these beautifully layered patterned cups by Tracy.
Carved patterns with layers of underglaze patterns.

And our BIG WINNER this week… Christine with these amazing “cartoon” cups.
AMAZING CREATIVITY!!!… and great craftsmanship. Each cup tells its own story utilizing the designated patterns, as well as some of the actual verbiage from the challenge itself!