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

My cousin David was proudly showing off his blooming amaryllis today! The flowers are GORGEOUS… and I’m “sure” that it’s all due to the “semi-vintage” flowerpot I made for him several years ago! You can see it better if you reverse the calendar a bit to when the bulb was just starting to sprout! Okay, so “maybe” his green thumb helped a bit too?!

Categories: bowls, family, food

With a “Winter Snow Advisory” in effect… it looks like my cousin Kim is getting ready to hunker down for a few days with a crock pot full of hot homemade soup… and a pretty blue bowl!!!

Categories: family, food, Taylor

I’ve been on a quest… searching for the new Brookie-O OREO‘s here in Chicago. No success yet. Luckily my niece Taylor had a package and was willing to share… from a safe distance of course.

Were they worth the wait?… Yummy, but not amazing.
Would I eat more? Yes.
Would I finish a whole package? Most likely.

Would I rather have that wonderful-gooey-pile-of-goodness as seen on the center of the package?


Categories: collaborations, family, platters, pottery, stamped

Another one of my super-secret Christmas projects was a commissioned piece for college football coach P.J. Fleck. My brother-in-law Scott is a long-time fan of P.J. Fleck, as well as my pottery, and thought the perfect one-of-a-kind gift for P.J. would be a custom platter with his personal mantra on it.


So I set off on making a large stamped platter. I threw the platter and left the center section smooth… which kinda killed me! You know how much I LOVE a good spiral!!! But with plans to put the logo in the center, I knew I would need a smooth “canvas” to work with.

My brother-in-law Scott is also a commercial printer with access to a vinyl cutter. So he offered to cut a few vinyl stencils for me to work with. Now keep in mind… this is the very first time I’m even trying this technique! I’ve seen others do it… so it’s gotta work, right?!

I started by peeling off the backing and then pressing it smoothly into the center of the platter. I wanted to make sure the edges were attached everywhere… but I was kind of afraid of pressing too hard! I didn’t want to make it hard to peel off later… or even worse, leave any kind of adhesive residue on the platter that might affect the glazing later..

After peeling off the top layer, I filled it all in with some thick underglaze. Kinda piling it on top with a pretty thick layer of color.

When the underglaze was mostly dry… but not totally, I peeled off the vinyl stencil. I was afraid that if it got too dry, it might flake off more while peeling it off. I knew that I wanted to keep it as clean as possible… as I didn’t want to do any clean-up & touch-ups later.

The toughest part was peeling away all of the smaller parts & pieces…
I kept finding more areas that were oddly “glossy” and knew that there was still some vinyl under the underglaze that wasn’t drying!

A little touch-up here & there… but not much at all.

Knowing that I didn’t want to blur the image, I thought my best option would be to spray the glaze over the applied logo design. So I started slowly around the edge. And then gradually sprayed more & more to build up the glaze slowly over time. I don’t do a lot of spraying glazes, so I’m always kind of questioning when I’ve got enough glaze material on the piece. You don’t want too little… but then again too much is bad too!

And then it went into the kiln… with all of my fingers crossed.
Remember, this was my first time doing the vinyl stencil technique… first time using this new brand of underglaze… and unsure of how my glaze I “sprayed” onto the piece… and if the logo would blur out & “melt” during the firing?!!! A lot at risk here…

But… two days later… I opened the kiln to find this!!!

But the real photo that counts is the one where University of Minnesota Head Football Coach P.J. Fleck is showing off his new platter!

That smile says it all.

Categories: family, friends, mugs, pottery

I packed up the pottery “starter sets” and shipped them out… anxiously awaiting The Big Reveal on Christmas! With things being as they are this year… the family “got together” to open their presents online!!! Not the best screen-grabs… but you can kinda see the excitement & joy of their new pottery! With the “gift-givers” a bit blurry, but still in the bottom left corner!

And since then… it’s been fun watching them all start using their new pottery collection! Each of them showing off parts of their new collections!

And Matt has already found “space” on his kitchen display shelves… although methinks he’s going to “need” more shelving pretty darn soon!

Categories: family, friends, holiday, mugs, pottery

Another great Christmas SURPRISE…
I was also asked to make a couple “sets” of pottery for three different families. The parents who requested these “sets” have QUITE the collection of my pottery. They’ve been collecting my work for years… and probably have TOO MUCH if that’s even possible! I know most of their kids have some “random” pieces… a mug here, a bowl there… but not a good “set” of anything!

So the request was to make two bowls, two mugs and two juice cups in three different colors for three different families. They love the stamped patterns… but didn’t want them to be all “matchy-matchy”… so they wanted the stamps to all be different. Similar, but different.

And to make matters worse…
imagine ME not being able to share the photos of these pieces as I was making them!!! I was so careful not to share too much to ruin the surprise! I had fun making the sets… but so tough NOT to show photos along the way!

The “celadon” green set traveled to Kristy & Matt in Wisconsin!

The cobalt blue set went to Karen & Annie in Maryland.

And the green set was delivered to Jody & Ira in Pennsylvania.

And oh, but wait there’s more…
I figured since each of the families was getting a nice “starter set” courtesy of their parents… maybe they needed a plate to go with it too??? Especially since I’ve kinda been “adopted” into the family. I’ve even been referred to as “the favorite son”!!!

A title I’ll gladly take… especially since they only have daughters!

Categories: family, holiday

Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday today despite all of the challenges. ‘Tis the season to be extra-creative with how you celebrate with family & friends… without being able to be “with” anyone today! I know I’ll be celebrating solo again today, yet “celebrating” with my family via ZOOM with trivia games & a gift exchange later this afternoon!

Vector illustration with Christmas elements
Categories: family, food, holiday

And here it is – fresh out of the oven!

My new 2020 “solo-holiday” tradition continues! Make a pie. Eat a pie! Should be cooled down just in time for my family ZOOM Christmas get-together. Too bad I can’t share… and I’ll just “rudely” be eating in front of them!!!

Oh well, more for me… HA!!!

Categories: family, friends, holiday

As I spend another socially-distant holiday by myself today, it is nice to reminisce and be thankful for the FAMILY you have surrounding you… whether in person or not. It’s been such a trying time for so many families this year… and I am SO THANKFUL for the “family” I have surrounding & supporting me.

Happy Holidays to all of you… my “online family”!
I hope you all stay safe, healthy & happy through this socially-distant holiday season… and that 2021 becomes much better that 2020!!!

Categories: family, holiday, soda-fired, vases

Looks like my cousin Kim is “sprucing” up her place for the holidays… with some fresh cut greenery & holiday flair arranged in one of my soda-fired flower bricks! So festive. I can almost smell the evergreens from here!!!