Gary Jackson: Fire When Ready Pottery
A Chicago potter’s somewhat slanted view of clay & play
Categories: handbuilding, mugs, soda-fired, stamped, surface decoration, wheelthrowing

Just a few of my newest “hybrid” mugs fresh out of the soda kiln! Celebrating a little Texture Tuesday with these fun patterns created with hand rollers from MKM Pottery Tools. My “hybrid” mugs are a combination of wheelthrown & handbuilt parts & pieces… my newest obsession in mug-making!!!

Categories: handbuilding, lillstreet, summer camp, terra cotta

Celebrating a little FLASHBACK FRIDAY with these wonderful chess pieces made by Mathieu last summer during Chess Camp at Lillstreet Art Center! He came in with a plan & made a wonderful version of the Terra Cotta Warriors. His chess set was all handbuilt with terra cotta in five days! He decided to keep his set unglazed to be more “authentic.” It was my favorite set of chess pieces from last summer!

And for those who don’t know… The TERRA COTTA ARMY was created by China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, who began the construction of the army in 246 BC after he (then aged 13) ascended the throne. It was an afterlife army for Emperor Qin. It was believed that objects like statues can be animated in the afterlife. The clay soldiers remained untouched for more than 2000 years, until 1974, when they were unearthed by Chinese farmers. Experts estimate there are more than 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots, and 670 horses.

Categories: handbuilding

Did a little fidgety-handbuilding today while I was subbing for two classes. It’s the last week of classes so there wasn’t a lot for me to “teach” them at this point. More chatting, facilitating & answering questions! I prefer hectic active classes… so I had to keep myself busy. Sure, they still need a bit of smoothing & refining… but these spoons are pretty cute so far!

Categories: challenge, handbuilding, lillstreet, wheelthrowing

This past week in my GREAT LILLSTREET THROWDOWN class, my students tackled their “last” big class challenge as we are sadly nearing the end of the class session. They’ve done handbuilding challenges, they’ve done wheelthrowing challenges… they’ve played silly games & posed for silly pictures! It has been a great class session with GREAT students in class this time around.

So to top things off… I decided to challenge them with something they “never saw coming!”


I had them separate into teams by randomly rolling dice. They then got matching color bandanas as blindfolds… and the one who had a small safety pin on it had to go first. So they put their blindfolds on… and stood there while their partners found out what their task would be. They each rolled some dice to find out what number their team would be throwing!

And then they set-off to do their best… one throwing blindly with just their partner to describe & paint a mental picture of the outcome!

And then, after the throwers had made their shapes as best they could… and the timer went off… we switched places. The ones doing the describing put their blindfolds on, as the wheelthrowers took theirs off. Only then did they find out that the newly blindfolded members would now be responsible for refining the shape and adding handles to match the original pictures. Okay, sure… maybe I drew some of the handles in…

And again, when the time was up… the teams brought their final pieces to the table for critiques, judging & admiration. I think everyone had a good time with this challenge. There was a LOT of laughter along the way!

Categories: classes, handbuilding, textures

Okay, so this may have been my favorite pot from the entire LILLSTREET SODA-FIRING WORKSHOP… because it comes with a great story!

So back in 2017, Carmina was in my beginning wheelthrowing class. But for one of our classes we focused on handbuilding. San Francisco potter Kate Chenok had contacted me as one of my Facebook Fans saying that she was coming to Chicago and asked if she could stop by for a visit… and I said yes, of course… but then I encouraged her to do a class demo while she was here. She was so gracious and did an AMAZING demo for my class. She brought her templates and showed my class how to make these cute textured-slab-darted cups. So the story is… that Carmina made this cup back in 2017… and has been wondering how to glaze it ever since?! Until this workshop…so SIX YEARS LATER it is finally done!!!

Good save Carmina… I’m glad you waited.

To see more about Kate’s visit and the demos she did for my class… click here…

And then be sure to click here to see more of Kate Chenok’s work…

Categories: handbuilding, mugs, patterns, textures, wheelthrowing

Pretty excited about this first batch of “hybrid” mugs… half wheelthrown, half handbuilt… using my new MKM Pottery Tools for some great patterns & textures. I’m pretty sure the soda kiln is going to LOVE making all of these textures really pop!!!

Categories: handbuilding, tiles

While it’s still feeling a bit like Winter here… I’m looking forward to getting some leaves back on the trees around here! But until then… I guess some clay gingko leaves in my studio might have to be good enough. Especially when they’re headed to the “4×4 : Four Makers” Show coming up in two weeks! So far so good… but they still need to be glazed & fired… so fingers crossed!

Categories: classes, handbuilding, sculpture

This week in THE GREAT LILLSTREET THROWDOWN, I figured they’ve had a lot of challenges lately… so it might be time for some fun game time! So instead of another wheelthowing project… we went with CLAY-TIONARY! Basically the classic game of Pictionary, but with sculpting of clay versus drawing on paper! They had so much fun… and surprised me with how competitive it got!!! Not the best “sculptures”… but they were all under a quick time crunch!

Any guesses from their clues?…

1. The Beatles

2. Martian

3. Monopoly

4. Scooby-Doo

5. Royal Flush… yes, that’s supposed to be a crown!!!

Categories: art fair, handbuilding, sculpture

Something “blooming” in my studio today… hoping it stays fresh as we’re just three weeks away from “4×4 : Four Makers” Show. I still need to fire, glaze & fire again. I haven’t quite figured out if this is Plan A, B or C?! I’m working on three different versions… hoping at least one of them works out!

Mark your calendar for this fun pop-up gallery show in Evanston the first weekend of March! March 3rd, 4th & 5th… more details to come…

Categories: handbuilding, process, production

Fiddling around with a little clay tonight… making some leaves… and making some new “plans” hopefully for the “4×4 : Four Makers” Show. Starting small, making more… and trying to figure out where these leaves might end up?! Fingers crossed...