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

Yesterday when I came in early for Summer Camp… I found that one of the adult students had already set-up their “stuff” at one of the pottery wheels. Wow, that’s early… considering it was at last an hour before Lillstreet even opens!!! But imagine “their” surprise when they find out that every wheel in this room (all fourteen of them) were soon going to be taken by a bunch of shall-we-say “energetic” early-teens… with a LOT of terra cotta flying about!!!

Categories: classes, food, lillstreet

Last night we kicked-off the Lillstreet Summer session of pottery classes with my Tuesday night Beginning & Advanced Beginning Wheelthrowing class. Once again I have a great group… can’t wait to see where the next ten weeks takes us… and of course we had to kick it off with some yummy chocolate goodness!

Good thing I pedaled BEFORE class…


Categories: classes, lillstreet, porcelain, vases

Another wonderful piece fresh from the kiln from our LILLSTREET THROWDOWN class!
Molly’s challenge-winning tulipiere looks even more amazing after glazing!!!

Categories: lillstreet, mosaic

Late afternoon sun shining on the Lillsteet Bricolage Mandala…
and I think I see “something” familiar?… hey, that’s my vase!!!

Categories: classes, lillstreet, sgraffito, vases

Two more “treasures” from our LILLSTREET THROWDOWN challenges class.
This time it’s Patti & Jon… with Patti’s ring tulipiere, and Jon’s “Rocky Raccoon” tray
from the Beatles S&P challenge! Both amazing!



Categories: lillstreet, vases

Another beautiful challenge piece out of the kiln!
Tatiana’s tulipiere from our LILLSTREET THROWDOWN class came out fantastic…
with some crazy-cool glaze going on there!!! Now it just needs some flowers – STAT!!!

Categories: bowls, classes, lillstreet, production

This week in my Tuesday night Beginning & Advanced Beginning Wheelthrowing class, we tackled making bowls. Yep… making bowls on purpose instead of a cylinder gone bad. I started with my bowl demo… starting with a good interior curve right from the start! After we had covered all of the “basocs” of basic bowls… they went back to their whee;s to start throwing their own bowls. Meanwhile… I continued throwing more bowls. A total of EIGHTEEN “basic” bowls.

When I had made all of MY owls, we re-grouped at my wheel for a little “decorating” FUN!!! My goal for the secodn part of the demo is to encourage them to PLAY WITH THEIR CLAY!!! To do some decorating… to make thier bowls their own. The wheel pretty much makes them round… now they get to make them their own style!!! So I quickly took my 18 “matching” bowls and started doing some quick & simple “tricks” to make them all different & special!!!

Bowl One – Here’s the “basic” bowl.. the starting point for all the others!!!

Bowl Two – Two simple “flutes” to add some flair. One finger inside, one finger outside. pinch and twist.

Bowl Three – And if two flutes are cute, maybe eight would be better?!

Bowl Four – A simple one-inch flange bent out to “widen” the bowl.

Bowl Five – And if one-inch is nice, maybe three inches would be better?!

Bowl Six – And then a combined, bent-out flange and four fluted twists.

Bowl Seven – Using a metal dragon-scaling tool… a simple flower indented in the bottom.

Bowl Eight – A split-rim pinched together in eight places.

Bowl Nine – Another split rim – dented inwards at four places.

Bowl Ten – Another split rim this time dented inwards four times, and outwards four times!

Bowl Eleven – This was last session’s “challenge” bowl… a TRIPLE split rim and then fluted in eight places. My students from last session now refer to this one as the “churro” bowl!

And then I introduced my “beginner’s” to colored slip… and then benefits.

Bowl Twelve – a simple coat of thick white slip  applied and then a spiral dragged through it with the curved end of my wooden knife… which I’ve now been told is called “The Potter’s Thumb.”

We noticed that the thick white slip wasn’t showing up very well for my demo purposes…
so we switched to black!

Bowl Thirteen – A layer of black slip – and then banded rings with “The Potters Thumb.”

Bowl Fourteen – A layer of black slip, and then a chattered pattern made by rhythmic tapping of a rounded rib as the bowl is spinning.

Bowl Fifteen – A layer of black slip, followed by some thick white slip squirt-bottled onto the surface… ala Ryan Greenheck!

Bowl Sixteen – Then using the same squirt bottle, I piped on a white slip spiral.

Bowl Seventeen – Using a couple strips of wet newspaper, I outlined a triangle… layered in some thick white slip, draged my finer through it to make some texture lines and then peeled away the newspaper “stencils.”

Bowl Eighteen – Always up for a challenge… this is the one this session. Stacey was sitting-in on class and she saw this bowl on her Instagram feed. So I tried my best to “mimic” the style… flaring out the flanged rim, denting down the four accent areas, and then piping some thick white slip accents. Coincidentally, Stacey was also the one who challenged me to the triple rim “churro” bowl last session

So for now they’re all “under wraps” in my studio. I think there’s a”very good chance” that there might still be a bit of embellishing & stamping to be done on them… maybe, just maybe?!




Categories: creativity, inspiration, lillstreet

So fun to see some of the LILLSTREET THROWDOWN projects coming out of the kiln… like this incredible “creamer” from the Beatles Sugar & Creamer challenge! Well done Jon!!!… everyone needs an adorable yellow submarine in their life!


Categories: classes, lillstreet, mugs

Tonight in my Beginners Wheelthrowing class, we tackled mugs and it’s only their second week!!! Sure, one of them might not hold much liquid… but it was Mario’s first pot, first time trimming and first time adding a handle. I told him I t will only get better!!!

Categories: classes, lillstreet

Every challenge needs winners… and ribbons.. and a TROPHY!!! Right?
After twenty-eight challenges in just 10 weeks of class, we finally have some winners!!!
And surprisingly, we were just a dozen points difference between the top three places!!!

First off… the ribbons… all well-deserved in my book at least!!!

So let’s break it down a little bit more…

BEST TAG-TEAM – Patti & Jon


And now for the TOP WINNERS!!!


SECOND PLACE – we had a tie!!!…. TAYLOR & TATIANA

And for the BIG WINNER… a TROPHY TOO!!!

And our BIG WINNER!!!

as the “dark horse” and the only primarily handbuilder in the class. I must admit I was questioning if she would be able to keep up with the wheelthrowers… but she SHINED!!! Her creativity, boundless enthusiasm, and willingness to try anything made her the winner!!!

Huge thanks to all of my wonderful students this session! I had so much fun “playing” with all of you this session! Thank you for always sucking it up and playing along with the challenges. Thanks for the camaraderie & supportive nature you all brought to the class. I’ve always thought that pottery classes should be fun, social and community building… and we’ve proven once again that they can be! Thanks again for the great class.


Left to right, kind of… David, Teresa, Jacob, Molly, Ryan, Tatiana, Taylor, Jon, Claire, Donna, Patti and Susan! You guys were the BEST!!!