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

With freezing temperatures all around, I figured it was a good day to stay in
and reminisce about warmer days and fun with friends. A little summer flashback!

A full day of fun in the sun with “my very first art fair friends” friends Gerry & Rosene… shopping all of the “treasures” at the Third Sunday Flea Market in Bloomington back in October. And a quick glimpse into the back of their car at the end of the day!!!

So you know I’m obsessed with all things RUSTY!!!
So imagine my surprise when we drove out into the middle of Central Illinois and found an entire menagerie of rusty animals!!! Including a life-sized llama with a full pelt of chains! WHOO-HOO!!!

Heart palpitations… Visual overload… Sweaty palms… this might be too much!

Life-sized animals made from assorted truck & farm equipment parts & pieces. And then left to rust. All with loving care & creativity of sculpture artist Robert Cumpston. Apparently he’s pretty well known in those parts. We ran into his daughter in a thrift store in Peoria the day before. So Rosene called him and asked if we could stop by and he said ‘of course.’ And by “those parts” I mean somewhere far out in the middle of NOWHERE!!! We drove miles & miles into the perfectly flat cornfields of rural Illinois.

Love the bird that has taken up residence in his favorite deer head…

So we got the FULL tour from Robert Cumpston himself. A wonderfully kind & sharing man. And very chatty. He walked us all over his property and showed us his creations. Each one more adorable than the next.

The tour continued… and he kept chatting and telling his stories. I took a few chances to split off to go searching on my own. Good thing Gerry & Rosene were so attentive. .. or at least played along better than I did.

As we continued the tour, there are piles and piles of scrap metal. All waiting to become something cool. Partial animals here & there. Most likely never to be completed… like the giraffe body below… top left of the pile.

And then he took us inside the barn into his studio. So many tools. So many things to see.

Tools everywhere. Pieces & parts. And an occasional llama head…

Sad thing is that he has since retired from making his rusty creatures. He says he “tinkers” a bit, but I fear that many of these animals will never be completed. And that his skills and talents will soon be lost. I asked if he had ever thought of getting an apprentice or intern to teach and help carry on his rusty legacy. Unfortunately, there was no plan and no real understanding of how sad it would be to let all of this talent & expertise end here.

And now back to the rust… it was everywhere!!! Bins packed full. Skids piled over. Pallets with rusty metal being overgrown with grasses. Heaven for those with a healthy appreciation for all things rust.

By the end of the day, my friend’s car was packed full. It was a great day at the Bloomington Flea Market followed by a surprising “haul” from Robert Cumpston’s place.

Click HERE for a video tour of Robert Cumpston’s place on YouTube. Unfortunately, you can see how much of his “inventory” has found a new home since the video was published in 2004.

And click HERE to see another clip of a Cumpston piece at the Antique’s Roadshow!
Apparently he made more than just animals?!!!

And here’s one of the cuties that come home with me…
and is now living under the park bench in my kitchen!












Categories: creativity, holiday, television

Okay, so I’m not a huge fan of Mariah Carey. So there. I said it.
But I do like James Corden… and I LOVE Carpool Karaoke!!!
So this one is pretty cute… and it just gets better.

Click here to watch the Carpool Karaoke Video on YouTube!

I love when a plan comes together!!!
And they must have been planning this one for quite some time!!!
Just some of the others in the car…

Categories: bike, creativity, special events

So I ran across this post prior to my own IRONMAN race.
I found it hysterical and yet just a little too real to be comfortable.
I wasn’t quite sure I was getting myself into… and this struck fear more than once or twice.
But now that I’m done it… now that I’m an IRONMAN… I totally agree…

Click here for the original post.

A look inside the mind of an IRONMAN athlete
as they swim, bike, and run their way through a long day.
by Lisa Dolbear

Thousands of people complete an IRONMAN every year—from every corner of the world and every walk of life. While we are all uniquely motivated to chase the glory with varying methods of training, different ideas on nutrition, and different courses beneath our feet, thoughts like the 20 below are common across all of our 140.6 mile journeys. What would you add to the list?

1. The Start: “I have to pee. I’m going to pee in my wetsuit. (Cannon sounds). I’m not done…oh well, I might as well just swim.”

2. The First Buoy of the Swim: “Winning.”

3. The Second Mile of the Swim: “My goggles don’t need to be 100 percent on, this is fine.”

4. The Last .4 Miles of the Swim: “What in the actual…did they measure this wrong?”

5. T1: “I feel so refreshed! ROOOAR! Did you SEE all that swimming?”

6. The First 20 Miles on the Bike: “Ah, feel those sweet breezes, sunshine on my back, I’m in heaven. This weather is perfect and I’m going to nail that PR.”

7. The Next 20 Miles on the Bike: “I mean not PERFECT, but manageable. It is getting a little hot. No matter, this is a nutrition game.”

8. Hitting 56 Miles on the Bike: “I can’t read the number on her calf. Is she in my age group? Imma speed up.”

9. Hitting 100 Miles on the Bike: “I just completed a century ride. I’m kind of a big deal.”

10. The Last 12 Miles on the Bike: “Ass numb, foot cramp. Get. Me. Off. This. Bike. And this head wind is unbearable.”

11. T2: “Anything is better than being on that bike for another second.”

12. The First Mile of the Run: “Oh my god, except this. Get me back on the bike.”

13. The Second Mile of the Run: “I’m pretty sure this is mile 3?”

14. The Third Mile of the Run: “What was my mantra again? I need a mantra. Mantra, mantra, mantra. Anyone?”

15. 13.1 Miles: “If this was an IRONMAN 70.3 race I’d be done right now. I’m so doing a half next time.”

16. Mile 17: “I feel AMAZING. A half? Pffft. Half, schmalf.”

17. Mile 20: “What’s my name again? Maybe Coke will help. Ugh, I shouldn’t have eaten that banana. Oh yay an aid station. OUCH! Blister! Blister!

18. Mile 26: “I’m practically there! I’m in! I’m doing it!”

19. The Last .2 Miles on the Run: “I think I’m still running but I can’t feel my legs so I’m not really sure. Basically I’m an Olympian right now.”

20. The Finish Line: “I’m never doing this again. I’m definitely doing this again. I’ll take a year off. I’ll sign up tomorrow.”



Categories: artists, creativity, textures

You know how much I love collaborations! I think it’s so much fun to see what other artists do when given a challenge and some fun clat pieces to work with. My friend & metalsmith Pam Robinson was given a whole bag of assorted clay “cabachons”… textured ceramic discs that I had made and soda-fired. I thought she might be able to make something out of them as a fun little collaboration. Little did I know that she would share them with one of the metalsmithing classes that she teaches. But I LOVE that she shared and challenged her students to incorporate my clay discs into their work.  After the Summer session, they presented their collaboration pieces at their final class. So much fun to see the final results. Wonderful pieces by an obviously talented class of metalsmiths. Huge thanks to my friend Pam for sharing my clay pieces and throwing out this great challenge to her students!

Laura made this wonderful copper pendant.

Sara very gracefully  incorporated the stamped shapes into the design of her pendant.

Katie used some fun silver squiggles to hold her square tile in place.

Debbie added a contemporary contour to her silver pendant.

Katie used mixed metals to colorfully accent my stamped disc.

Dianna went above & beyond with the necklace with stones & gems added into the mix.

Kathy added a touch of whimsy to my clay disc that had a “watery” glaze surface. She did a two-sided pendant with a whale (named Martin) on the front… to a view inside the mouth on the other side. Complete with a dangling uvula just above the tongue.

Pam worked in her trademark style keeping the shine and adding some bling. Pam loves her sparkle & shine!!! Her pendant is two-sided and hangs from a hammered silver necklace.

But then as a great surprise, and a Thank You for giving them the clay discs to play with, Pam also made me this wonderful necklace. One of my favorite textured discs on a fun textured silver background. Thank You Pam… I’ll give you more clay discs whenever you want them!!!

So for now they are all on display in one of the jewelry cases in the Metals Hallway at Lillstreet Art Center. Pam’s students did a wonderful job with these collaborations. So great to see the finished pieces hanging in the hallway… but I really can’t wait to get my new necklace from Pam!!!








Categories: creativity

Kids of all ages have gone back to school. Some got crayons. Some got books.
Luckily… after years in Corporate America, I got my crayons back!!!

Categories: clay, creativity, food

Don’t eat these ones – your dentist won’t be happy!!! My teaching assistant Erin made these amazing ceramic OREO’s for everyone in class! While everyone else exchanged ovals, Erin had a fun little OREO for each of us! A perfect complement to our OREO ADDICTION!!! Thanks Erin!


Categories: classes, creativity, food

Sadly, in class last night we had no OREOs. Mwah, mwah, mwah... But my assistant Erin decided to make some clay OREOs using a stamp she made last week during our stamp-making demo!!! Sweet… but not quite as tasty!!!

Categories: creativity, summer camp

This week at Summer Camp we’re doing Chess Camp!
My campers are each designing & creating an entire chess set out of clay. Of course the first step Monday morning was an “official” brainstorming session where they all came up with some really fantastic ideas!!!


Categories: creativity

The drive home after a racing event is not always fun… exhausted, stinky, done. And driving through central Indiana doesn’t make it any better. Except for a surprise wildlife sighting on the side of the expressway!

Categories: artists, creativity

These projects are pretty amazing. All done with layers & layers of colored paper. And to think that I did quilling when I was in 7th grade. Imagine what I might be doing now if I had just stuck with it?!

Click here to see Yulia Broskaya’s video.