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

One of my summer campers today made her own potted cactus… guaranteed NOT to die!!! She threw the flowerpot on the wheel, and then handbuilt the cactus. She connected the two & then painted them with colored slips. What a great idea… well done Sophia!

Categories: handbuilding, textures

In addition to wheelthrowing plates in class tonight… one of my students asked about making handbuilt plates. Sure, it’s a wheelthrowing class, but I’m always up for a good “Demo-On-Demand”!!! So I taught them how to throw a slab, add a little texture and drape it into a slump mold. It was my first time using this mold… kind of excited to see how it turns out. Not bad for an impromptu plate demo!!!

Categories: bowls, challenge, handbuilding, soda-fired

After soda-firing, my chain looks great with some flashing marks to help accentuate the textures on some of the links. Might not be what all of the metalsmiths expected from a chain challenge… but I think I succeeded again! Yeah, I’ll show them!!! HA!!!

#2021chainchallenge – #handmadechain – #chainlinks2021

Categories: challenge, handbuilding

You know how I LOVE a good challenge… and this is the third month of the 2021 CHAIN CHALLENGE started by my pal & metalsmith Sarah Chapman. I’ve been working on my March chain entry for awhile now… as I don’t have the “luxury” of cranking out a clay chain last minute if I want to get it fired. Since today is the last day of March, it’s also the big DEADLINE!!! So here’s a glimpse into the making of my chain for the challenge! Constructed ring-by-ring, sprayed with a little slip… and then soda-fired.

2021chainchallenge – #handmadechain – #chainlinks2021

Categories: creativity, handbuilding, process, production

Last night in my Intermediate Wheelthrowing class, we did a little “exchanging-trading-stealing” game… and the theme was FLOWER POTS with a plant inside! We all had a great time sharing our flowerpots & plants. And THEN… Christine pulled out another bag all wrapped up for ME!!! What?!… A late entry into the “sharing game” just for me?!

And it turned out to be this AMAZING cookie creation!!! Sure, she might just know a little somethin’-somethin’ about my OREO addiction?!

Christine is fairly new to the handbuilding… with this being only her SECOND handbuilding project ever. Never one to shy away from a good challenge, Christine took it upon herself to build this amazing flower pot! Even better – working at her new make-shift pottery studio workspace at home in her kitchen! Recently pulled together due to the pandemic restrictions and her ever-growing addiction to clay!

So here’s a little step-by-step process story for you… with special THANKS to Christine for sharing all of her process photos!

It looks like Christine started by enlarging the famous OREO pattern embossed on the cookies… and then cut them out to use them as templates & stencils for the project.

Using the patterns, Christine cut out the logo from a slab of clay. Funny thing… I was right there while Christine was rolling out her slabs on the Lillstreet slab roller.. and had no idea what she was working on! And then she continued to cut out all of the other parts & pieces. Good thing Christine has a nice “damp box” at home to store all of these pieces as she’s working on them.

Using the original stencils, Christine then transferred the pattern onto the large “cookie” circle disc of slab clay. This process makes it a LOT easier to places the pieces later.

After a LOT of scoring & slipping… the textured & embossed “cookie” was coming along nicely… still waiting for the decorative border of little rectangles. A lot of them!!!

So here are the two oversized “cookies” just waiting for the cream filling… the “container” portion of the flower pot!!!

The flower pot portion was created out of slabs as well… looks like this one might be TRIPLE STUFFED!!!

With a little chunk of sponge to support the cookie walls, the flower pot was assembled and allowed to stiffen up without sagging.

Christine then added some slabs to the bottom as “feet” for the flower pot to stand on… and NOT roll around like a cookie on its side!

While the flower pot was setting up, Christine made a small water trip tray to fit under the flowerpot.

When both pieces were finally dried, they were bisque-fired… bringing out the “traditional” terra cotta coloring we all love!

And then a couple coats of underglaze to give it that special OREO cookie color!!!

But then the triple-stuffed “filling” needed to be painted with white underglaze… using green tape to make nice clean lines between the colors.

All coming together… looking more & more like an OREO cookie!!!

And then a couple layers of glazed sprayed on to give it some shine.

And then it was ready to go back into the kiln for the glaze firing. Huge thanks to Dave Trost for being Christine’s “cohort-in-crime” – helping to facilitate this covert project. Apparently there was a lot of hiding & stashing of this piece so that I wouldn’t happen upon it ruining the surprise. A lot was going on around me… and I had NO IDEA!!!

After the glaze firing, it looked great. Christine apologized a bit for the coloring… bringing up that they have made Blueberry OREOS in the past!!! Sure, the traditional dark brown OREO might have been nice, but the blue hue makes it a bit more fun & magical.

Such a wonderful surprise by one of My Talented Students!!!

Categories: classes, collaborations, flowers, food, handbuilding, pottery

And oh, but wait there’s more… SO MUCH MORE!!!
Or would that be MORE-eo?!!!

Not only did I get Christine’s Chicago flag flowerpot as part of our trading game… l ALSO got this amazing piece that she made as a surprise gift for me!!! Christine has been taken several of my classes and knows my penchant for OREOs firsthand. So she knew that this would be the PERFECT gift for me. And apparently, there was an all-on covert operation going on behind-the-scenes at Lillstreet to get it through all of the firings without me seeing it (thank you Dave – her cohort in crime!) Such an AMAZING way to end our session… with this AMAZING OREO PLANTER.

And don’t hate… but this is only Christine’s second handbuilding project ever!.. yes, she’s one of “those” people!!! I will do a post soon that show’s her step-by-step process in building this masterpiece!!!

Categories: handbuilding, mugs, patterns, pottery, soda-fired, textures, wheelthrowing

Here’s a quick glimpse at some of my new “handbuilt-wheelthrown-combo” mugs… fresh from the soda kiln! I did a couple demos for my classes this session that “sparked” my need to make more of these textured mugs! Sure, some of them are a bit larger than maybe they should be… sometimes a class demo can get a little out of control. But I am loving how these turned out… so I’m sure I’ll be making another batch or five!

Categories: classes, handbuilding, process, textures, vases

Looks like Rikke has continued her adventures with texture using one of my carved rolling pins from Stodola! We started this in our Thursday morning class when she wanted to go bigger than her textured rubber mat would allow. The carved rolling pins from Stodola allow her to go as big as she can! The texture & pattern is working well… and we’re both loving the “wood texture” inside some of the pressed squares!

Click here to see more from STODOLA!!!

Categories: classes, handbuilding, patterns, textures, tools

One of my students has been working on some small handbuilt vases with a brick pattern. But she was frustrated as she was limited in size to the texture mat she was using for the brick pattern. So I offered up some of my textured rolling pins from STODOLA as an option. Rikke chose this grid pattern… and is so excited to make larger versions of her small vases now that she can roll larger slab textures! So excited that she’ll be ordering her own custom brick pattern rolling pin from STODOLA soon!

Click here to go to the STODOLA website!

Categories: handbuilding, mugs, textures, wheelthrowing

In my Thursday morning pottery class, I did a little demo of my wheelthrown & handbuilt “combo” textured mugs. Well, they’re all assembled and I just dipped them in colored flashing slip. I didn’t want a bunch of crazy drips to run down onto the trimmed bottom… so I supported them upside-down on kiln posts until the slip set-up a bit.