Gary Jackson: Fire When Ready Pottery
A Chicago potter’s somewhat slanted view of clay & play
Categories: gallery, soda-fired, special events, textures

Tomorrow evening is the Opening Reception for a new exhibit in the Lillstreet Gallery Annex on the second floor. It’s a collection of Lillstreet ceramic artists who make soda-fired work. I have a large “constellation” of wall pieces in the show. The textured wall pillows make a fun installation grouping full of textures, surfaces & shadows.

Stop by tomorrow evening between 6:00-8:00pm for the Opening Reception. Second floor of Lillstreet Art Center just a few doors down from my studio. 4401 North Ravenswood, Chicago, IL 60640 on the corner of Montrose & Ravenswood.

Categories: artists, gallery

Last night I went to the Bridgeport Art Center with my friend Kristin for their “Third Fridays” Open Studio Night. I’ve only been down there once before with the “glitter gig.” This was my first Open Studio Night so we were both excited to see some great art & visit with artists.

Their Gallery space was very nice. Quite a few beautiful pieces around the room – along with live music!!! Here’s one of the pieces that caught my eye… a diptych of color stripes. All made from tiny slices of colored paper.

I was also enamored by this “curtain” of prisms, mirrors and sparkle! It was a nice installation in the middle of the room… and I especially appreciated the way the light bounced off of it… and the shadowed patterns it created on the floor!

On the Fourth Floor, a little off to the side of the Gallery, is the glass studio of my friend Dobrila Pintar. She was there greeting people and showing off her beautiful pieces. Dobrila took my Beginning Wheel class “centuries” ago, and now teaches glass bead classes at Lillstreet. It was great to see her in own environment!!!

As we were touring the Fourth Floor studios, we followed the “maze” around the building. We turned a corner and suddenly it opened up to a large workroom filled with wonderfully precious artworks. Project Onward is housed in the Bridgeport Art Center… lots of glitter, tons of color, and a wonderful spirit.

According to their website…
Project Onward supports the professional development of artists with exceptional talents and challenges, ranging from autism to mental illness, and provides these artists with workspace, materials, professional guidance, exhibition opportunities and access to markets to sell their work and advance their careers.

Here’s one of my favorites by an artist named Sheila Smith. Such wonderful use of color & dots to create patterns & movement.

After our time in the Project Onward workroom, we were ready to leave the Fourth Floor and head up one more level to see our friend & ceramic mastermind Jay Strommen!!!


Categories: artists, gallery, lillstreet, patterns

You know I love color, texture, repetition & whimsy.
Needless to say, I’m really diggin’ the latest show in the Lillstreet Gallery Annex.
Upstairs on the second floor, there is this wonderful installation piece that I need to pass through everyday to get to my studio. It’s a collage made of advertising photos and pins!!! No glue. Just pins stuck in the wall. The artist, Stacia Yeapanis, is here at least twice a week through the rest of November to continue her installation. The show ends with a Closing Reeception on December 5th where everyone can help pull the pins!

From the Lillstreet promo flyers…
In her ongoing series of collage installations, Stacia Yeapanis creates large-scale abstractions by pinning repetitive images cut from magazines directly to the gallery wall. The images in advertisements and lifestyle articles are intended by their producers to create new desires and manipulate existing ones in consumers. By cutting, organizing and remixing the images, Yeapanis turns the act of consuming into one of creating.

I especially love how it “creeps” and grows throughout the weeks. What started as just a few snippets has “grown” into a beautiful work of art on the walls, in the corners and encroaching on every part of the gallery space.

At the end of the gallery show, Stacia will be pulling pins. The pieces will literally be “falling off the wall.” T-pins everywhere! And the wonderful shadows the T-pins created?… gone along with Stacia on December 5th!!!

Categories: gallery, mugs, special events

Last Friday night was the Opening Night

From the sounds of it, everything went incredibly well. So excited that Pam’s charity event came together and was a huge success!!! Thanks to everyone who donated cups, and to everyone who bought them to help the cause!

For a review of the project and the Opening, click here for Pam’s story.

Categories: artists, gallery, mugs

Hey Fellow Potters – You still have a few days to donate a mug to “Finding Forever.” A fundraising event similar in style to “Empty Bowls” but this time to benefit the kids in the Foster Care System. I’ve already shipped a few of my own mugs to organizer & potter Pam Kinsmith. And another box leaving soon of mugs from other Lillstreet potters. So grab a mug, box it up and ship it to “Finding Forever.” Deadline : October 1st, 2014.

Click here for more information from the “Finding Forever” website.


Categories: gallery, mugs

Well look who’s now carrying handmade mugs by Fire When Ready Pottery

Located in historic downtown Long Grove, Illinois, Beans & Leaves is a cozy cafe featuring fresh, locally roasted fine coffee and a wide variety of loose leaf teas. Stop in to pick up a latte and pastry on your way to work, or linger outside in our beautiful patio and gazebo. A gathering place for friends, family, musicians, and artists. Check out the live music schedule and enjoy performances by talented musicians. Come to a cafe where neighbors gather, where music is played, and where memories are made! With free Wi-Fi too!!!

320 Old McHenry Road, Long Grove, Illinois 60047 – (847) 821-0011
Monday-Saturday 8:30am-5:00pm • Sunday 9:00am-5:00pm

In addition to enjoying the coziest cafe in Long Grove, you can also purchase their coffees, teas and now handmade ceramic mugs online. So if you need a quick fix, a shot of caffeine and a new mug… click online and do some shopping!!! Click here to shop handmade ceramic mugs online.

Categories: artists, creativity, friends, gallery, inspiration, pottery, special events

Today was our NCECA personal field trip. My friend Nancy Jana-Kent and I played hooky and went up for one day of the NCECA Conference. She’s the biking friend I’ve known for years, and suggested that we both take our first pottery class at Lillstreet many years ago. So it’s all her fault that I’m so addicted now… anyway…

We arrived in Milwaukee this morning after a rainy & gloomy drive. We registered in the lobby of the Wisconsin Center and then head off to see stuff. We didn’t really know where to go, what to see, what to do. We didn’t really do our homework beforehand. So Nancy & I were just winging it… ready to see a little bit of everything!

We started by dropping of my two cups for the Annual Cup Show. The actual sale event is not until Friday morning, but the tables were already filling up with mugs. I wish I could be there Friday morning to see how many mugs there end up being for the fundraising sale.

We then went into some of the smaller galleries. Each conference room had been transformed into a small gallery space. Our favorite was the gallery showcasing the work from the Archie Bray Foundation. Headlined by Steven Young Lee… who is one of the current “hot potters” in all ceramic world. He’s in all the magazines. He’s all the rage. He’s the hot ticket these days. He’s been making these beautiful, traditional Asian blue & white porcelain vessels… with one really big flaw! Okay, maybe it’s just me… but I don’t get it. I’m sure there is some very hoity-toity, symbolic artistic meaning behind them… but I would rather having the stunning vessel BEFORE the “accident” happened. Either way, even though I don’t “get it”, I can still admire the technical craftsmanship that goes into them.

A beautiful collection of wall pillows – with incredible dotted & drawn details by Giselle Hicks. Each individual pieces is pretty spectacular… but put them together into a “puffy quilt” and it’s even better!!!

Not a lot of purely practical & functional pottery in the gallery spaces. So I was really drawn to Paul Donnelly‘s beautiful set. Nicely thrown, beautifully assembled & glazed. But the coolest part was the unique wooden trivet-tray that all of the pieces rested on… and if you picked them up, the foot of each cup fit into a carved recess in the tray! Brilliant!!!

We also saw this great “set of ladles”… sorry, forgot the artist’s name?… but it brought up the conversation about how neither Nancy or I have ever made clay spoons?! And that we both think we should try it.

Okay, so by now you might know that I kind of have a “thing” for roadkill. So many bike rides have taken us so many over the years. So I loved this “ceramic roadkill” by Beth Cavener. Now I’m not really sure that that was her intention… but that’s what I read into it. And I loved it… all that was missing was the “smell of death.”

While in the “Grounded In Wisconsin” Gallery, I saw this really cool wall piece by Marta Matray. I loved the “pillow” volume, the texture and the beautiful flashing colors.

As we were leaving the small gallery spaces, we ran into another Lillstreet potter Marian Castro-Palanyk, who joined Nancy & I for the day. As we headed upstairs for the Resource Hall Expo, we turned a corner and practically ran into Aaron Nelson & Steven Lee. Two former teachers of mine from the old Lillstreet days. And now each of them have become “pretty big deals” in the ceramic world. I took wheelthrowing class & my first glaze chemistry class with Aaron. He is currently the artistic director at Medalta in Alberta, Canada. While Steve is the resident artistic director for the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, Montana. Both “big wigs” in the clay world… always a bit surprised that they even remember me?!!!

As we entered the Resource Hall, I was kind of surprised to see a couple pottery galleries actually selling pottery. I kind of expected to see pottery in “galleries”… and not for sale?! Pleasant surprise, huh?… cha-ching $$$.

Always fun to see… Artstream Nomadic Gallery! A wonderful diversion & creative re-use of an old silver Airstream trailer. The entire unit has been converted & transformed onto a traveling ceramics gallery! Alleghany Meadows was the mastermind for this brilliant concept… and he makes pretty amazing work too!

So we continued through Resource Hall and saw a LOT of booths selling tools, glazes, books, clay, wheels, kilns… and did I mention tools?! We did a lot of shopping, bought lots of tools, and ran into a bunch of friends along the way. It was great to see so many familiar faces… Glynnis Lessing, Delores Fortuna, Amanda Syler, Dave Trost, Dustin Yager, Steve Lee again… and so many other familiar faces hovering around the Lillstreet Art Center booth.

We shopped and made it though about half of the Expo, when we broke for lunch. Incredible nachos across the street.. and then back for more shopping. More tools. More fun.

One little surprise along the way was when we stepped into the Coyote Glazes trade show booth. Lots of colors. Lots of glaze swatches. Still visually overwhelmed. But very pleased to see a mug there that I recognized!!!

Scott Reed from Symmetrical Pottery in Florida makes these awesome “sheet metal” mugs! And there one was glazed in Coyote “Root Beer” glaze. I’ve only “met” Scott online through blogs & Facebook. I’ve seen his work & techniques change & grow very quickly… and continue to see a LOT of pictures of his pots on Facebook. This was the first time I had the pleasure of seeing one of his mugs in person!!! Click here to see more work from Symmetrical Pottery on their Facebook page.

At one point in the Expo, I stopped off at the Medalta booth to say “hi” to Aaron again but he wasn’t there. Ironically though, they’re doing a Call For Entries for a “Spoon Show”… and didn’t we just say that Nancy, Marian & I were all going to tackle making spoons?! Coincidence?… I don’t think so!

We continued to work our way around the Expo. So many things to see. So many people to talk to. It gets very overwhelming very quickly. I’m sure it’s not so bad if you’re there for the full, multi-day conference. We were there for one day today, and determined to squeeze it all in. And I think we did a really good job!!!

As we were getting ready to leave the convention center, we were headed towards the escalator when I though I heard my name?!… Turns out it was my good friend & ceramic artist Cory McCrory! I was so glad to see her there… and a little sad that we were on our way home, and not staying to play longer!!! But we were exhausted… wallets spent… and ready to head home to re-live & admire our purchases!!!


Categories: artists, friends, gallery, mugs

The first stop on our afternoon adventure was a trip to Northern Clay Center in Minneapolis. Much like Lillstreet, they’ve got a gallery of ceramics, classrooms, artist studios and a lot of fun for everyone. Sarah, Pam and I were excited to get our shopping on!

Inside, we got our shopping on. Not only were there a lot of great ceramic artists represented in their retail sales area, bit there was also a great show in their Main Gallery. It was a collaboration show where one artist made the pieces, and then had other artists do the glazing in their own styles. Very cool. Makes me think that I need to some more collaboration projects in the near future. After the Gallery show, we toured the studios and the classroom facilities. It was Pam’s first time to Northern Clay Center so she was excited to see it all.

Anyway, we ended back in the retail space and we started getting down to business. After looking at all of the pottery, the sales associate told us we could open all of the cabinets and “shop” from there too. And then he said there were still some pots left from the American Pottery Festival in the back room… so we shopped in there too! So much fun! So many pots!!!

After looking at all of the pots, I had to start narrowing it down. I finally landed on three different mugs that caught my attention. The latest additions to my ever-expanding “Mug Collection.” The first one was made by Kenyon Hansen… who seems to be the latest “golden child” of the pottery world. He’s been all over Ceramics Monthly and creating quite a stir with his wonderful forms, surface treatments and glazed textures.

My second choice was a stunningly refined cup by Kyla Toomey. I’m been coveting these for about a year now every time I see them in the Lillstreet Gallery. This time, I found this sweet one glazed in a very light green celadon glaze. I love how these are created, cut, popped and refined… I’m not quite sure how she makes them. But I;m very glad that she does!!!

This last one is actually the first one that caught my attention! At first glaze it’s just a pretty normal, functional mug by Birdie Boone. Nice shape. Nice glaze. Nothing too extravagant. But then when you touch it… watch out!!! The bottom of the mug is rounded off with no foot ring… so it rocks! Literally!!! It rocks back & forth… and I fell in love instantly!

Please take a second to check out their work on their websites. Simply click on their names above the photos, or go to the “Links” section and click on their names there. You’ll go right to their websites to see more of their incredible work!

Categories: artists, gallery, pottery

Okay, sure. Our weekend had been jam packed full with clay, pots & potters.
We did the official St. Croix River Valley Pottery Tour, we did a little shopping, we did a little chatting. We also went down to Continental Clay, Northern Clay Center and Emily Murphy’s pottery studio. We also played with the Rogue Potters and toyed with Steven Hill. But today was our day to head home. So why not make one more stop along the way?!

So we drove to Hudson, Wisconsin… right across the river from Stillwater, Minnesota. It’s a cute little town with a very nice art gallery. It used to be located on the east side of the street, but Seasons On St. Croix has relocated to the the west side of the street to a much larger facility. And when you see a big sign like this on the side of the street… you’ve got to stop by!!! You know we love ART!!!

We’ve been tot he gallery before. They have a lot of great artists, and generally quite a bit of nice pottery. And this newer gallery space has room for even more pottery! Including some really large pieces by Joe Christenen If you’ve been to the One-Of-A-Kind Show in Chicago, there’s a really good chance you’ve seen his large vessels on display there. But his is a much larger collection of his work… large urns, bottles and newer pieces with some sculptural animals on them. I know my friend Nancy loves his work!!!

And while you’re there, you need to go downstairs to see Joe Christensen’s studio. It in the walk-out basement of the gallery building. There’s a large work space and a separate kiln room. Unfortunately, Joe wasn’t around today while we were there. But luckily, his studio space was unlocked so we got a chance to look around.

And a great pot that he had apparently just finished sgraffito carving as it was now drying.

For more information about Joe Christensen’s pottery, click here for his website
or check out Joe Christensen’s LINK the right hand column of my blog.
And you’ll be glad you did… there’s a time lapse video of him throwing a 5-foot tall pot!!!

Categories: art fair, gallery

Special thanks to everyone who came over this past Saturday for “Mud & Metal.”
It’s always fun to see so many friends, family, groupies & Facebook Fans all in one place!!
And thanks to Amy Taylor for sharing the day and her incredible work with us too!!!