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

So I was “extra” productive this afternoon…
I separated this bottle of coins into four separate bottles.
I mean, it just HAD to be done, right?!!!

So what did YOU accomplish today???

Categories: inspiration, movie, studio, tools

Seemed oddly appropriate for today’s studio background movie… HAKUNA MATATA. It means no worries, for the rest of your days! It’s our problem-free, philosophy... HAKUNA MATATA.

And yes, you can thank me now for getting that little diddy stuck in your head for the rest of the day !!

Categories: classes, food, inspiration

As the LILLSTREET THROWDOWN came to an end last night, my class surprised me with a sweet Thank You card & gift. And for the record… the gift was indeed SWEET… from Big Fat Cookie in Chicago!!! I must admit, this group was a pleasure to teach… always so eager to play along with my crazy pottery games & challenges! They truly rocked it out this session… Thank You to each and every one of them!

Categories: classes, inspiration

After the bowls & spoons challenge, I decided to up the ante with possibly their toughest LILLSTREET THROWDOWN challenge yet!!! MATRYOSHKA… yes, a set of five Russian Nesting Dolls.

I showed them some examples, as many of them jumped right in on throwing their parts. But it was going to be the sizing, trimming, stacking & decorating that was really going to make them work… hopefully enough to “bring us to tears.” Just like Clover did to judge Keith in season two, episode six of “The Great Pottery Throw Down.”

Categories: classes, inspiration

So far the LILLSTREET THROWDOWN has been mostly focused on wheelthrowing projects… but this week it took a turn into handbuilding!!! To ease our way in, we started with a few smaller challenges!

The were challenged to cut-off two “perfect” one-pound balls of clay. They could not use a scale, just their gut for weighing them blindly. Tougher than it sounds. After they each “thought” they had the one-pound balls… we went to actually weight hem with a digital scale! For most of them, they over-estimated the amount of clay. But we had two people who were shockingly spot-on!!! Tracy & Jacob were a tiny but under on one ball, and an equally tiny bit over on the other ball of clay… evening out to two “perfect” balls when averaged out.

The next challenge was to take those one-pound balls of clay and do a bit of coil-rolling. Some of my students had surprisingly never really rolled coils, so I did a quick demo for them. They then rolled coils trying to get them as long as they could in three minutes. The catch was, that if their coil broke at any point they could not put it back together… and their challenge was over as we would measure their longest segment. We had four “winners” in this challenge… one from each table… with Jacob, Taylor, Stacey & Dana. But they weren’t done yet…

The four “semi-finalists” carried on for another coil challenge! This time we doubled the amount of clay, and doubled the amount of time… and cut the number of hands in half!!! Yes, they could only use ONE HAND to roll the longest single coil that they could in six minutes!

But it was Dana who literally “rolled over” her competition…
and practically took over the entire table with her one-handed coil.

After coiling, we moved on to slab throwing. Again, we started with a quick demo… and then they started pulling their slabs. No slab rollers. No rolling pins. Just throwing them by hand!!! The goal was to get the largest continuous rectangle of clay… no folding over edges, no patching of holes, no fixing of tears… just one big solid rectangle.

After they pulled the clay as far as they thought they could,
I trimmed off the raggedy edges to reveal their inner-rectangle for measuring!

So now that they’ve warmed-up their handbuilding skills… it was time to give heir their next THROWDOWN CHALLENGE… and their first handbuilding challenge!!! For next week’s class, they need to construct a handbuilt flower brick. Keeping in mind their structure, stability, functionality and creativity! I showed them some examples of various flower bricks to inspire & get their creative juices flowing… and I also offered up my STODOLA textured rolling pins in case they wanted to use them?!

I can’ t wait to see what they come up with for our next class!


Categories: artists, creativity, inspiration, sculpture

Now if only we had a little more snow…
I could totally get outside to make one of these “tasty” snow sculptures! HA!!!
Thanks to Snow Art Zone for the inspiration!

Categories: Chicago, creativity, inspiration, sculpture

Okay, so who else remembers these?!… or maybe it’s just a Chicago-thing???
Automatic plastic molded sculptures while you wait!!! Who doesn’t want that?!

The sound of the machine cranking.
The clear bubble to let you see it working.
The smell of the molten plastic.
Pulling them out of the slot while they’re still hot.
Having to carry them upside-down while the plastic cools & solidifies!!!
Whenever we went to the Zoo or a Museum, we would get to choose which ONE of these little statues we wanted as a souvenir.

And every time I smell that melted plastic… I’m eight years old again!!!

For even more about the MOLD-A-RAMA… click here!

I’d like to add a little side note… maybe a little bit of a “Spoiler Alert”???

While I was in the Primate House, the Mold-A-Rama technician was there cleaning the machine and putting any of the errant plastic back into the reservoir. I mentioned how much I loved the Mold-A-Rama as a kid… and how the smell was such a childhood flashback. Then he mentioned that they’ve been working on trying to make a candle that actually has that classic Mold-A-Rama scent!!! Yes, please!!!



Categories: Chicago, holiday, inspiration

Always a fun surprise when the CTA Holiday Train with Santa aboard turns the corner while you’re waiting on the platform. Suddenly flooded with a festive feeling… even though we were on the wrong side going the wrong direction to get on the train! Dang.

And then imagine my surprise when the very next train was the Elves’ Workshop Train!!! Still so fun & festive!!!!

Categories: artists, creativity, inspiration

Here’s “THE SHIP OF TOLERANCE” by Ilya & Emilia Kabakov that has been “docked” down on Navy Pier for the past month or so as part of EXPO Chicago. A wonderful art installation that utilizes a sail hand-painted by local schoolkids to highlight tolerance & inclusiveness. A wonderful concept for the kids to discuss & embrace. Sadly, today is the final day of the Ship’s tour of Chicago… as it will now sail off to its next destination.