Gary Jackson: Fire When Ready Pottery
A Chicago potter’s somewhat slanted view of clay & play
Categories: classes, kiln firing, lillstreet, soda-fired

Ever wanted to try soda-firing your pottery but don’t have access to a soda-kiln?
Wanna come play with us and learn about soda-firing at the same time?
Like playing with fire???

Well lookey here… I’m teaching a 3-Night Soda-Firing workshop at Lillstreet Art Center
in a few weeks! You bring some bisqued pots and we’ll soda-fire them together.
Just a few spaces left!!!

From the Lillstreet Ceramics Instagram news feed…
Get an introduction to the processes involved in soda firing. Friday night, bring in bisque for slip, glazing, and wadding. Then load and close the kiln. Return Saturday evening for two hours for the adding of the soda to the kiln. Monday evening, set aside four hours to unload, clean the kiln, potluck & critique.

This workshop will meet:
Friday, February 21 from 6-10pm
Saturday, February 22 from 7-9pm
Monday, February 24 from 6-10pm

This is an intermediate/advanced workshop. Students must have one year of ceramics experience to register.

Click here for more information & registration details!




Categories: bowls, classes, lillstreet

So excited to be starting off the THIRD “season” of my pottery challenges & contests class….

We started with introductions, explained a few overviews & expectations of the class. A couple of my students are returning to the Throwdown from previous “seasons”… so it couldn’t have been too tough if they’ve come back for more, right???

Then I broke out the first challenge… as they were tasked with throwing their “best” 3-pound serving bowl. They were told what parameters we would be looking for… even wall thickness, no heavy bottoms, nicely curved interior, no “beginner’s ledge” inside, and a purposeful rim. They had 30 minutes to work on their bowl… which is sometimes tough when you have “too much time” to overthink & overwork the piece. Throwing the 3-pound bowl was tough for some as we’ve all been on a long holiday break… and this was their very first thrown piece since we all left classes before Christmas!

When they had all finished their bowls, we gathered at the table to discuss & critique them. We looked at the interior curves, the bottom “foot” areas, and the ways some people took it a step further and started decorating their bowls already… even though this was a “throwing” challenge, and not a “decorating” challenge!

They thought we were choosing the winner… but I never told them that this was going to be in a “judged” challenge! So then I pulled out another envelope that told them there was a twist and another challenge. And that was that they now needed to throw another 3-pound bowl to MATCH their first one! They had shown me that they could make nice bowls… now they just needed to do it AGAIN!!!

There was a lot of measuring with calipers and visually comparing them as they were trying their best to match their second bowl to their first.

After 45 minutes, they brought their matching bowls to the table where we proceeded to discuss and critique. We talked about how they matched… how some of them didn’t in some places… and overall they all did AMAZING!!!

It was going to be pretty tough to pick the winner… so we got very nit-picky pretty quick to pick between the Top Three. When they’re all so good, it comes down to the finest of details. There were rulers, calipers and a LOT of squatting-down profile viewings!

Huge congrats to Jacob & Dana for coming in first & second in our very first Throwdown Challenge!!!

But we weren’t REALLY done yet… the final challenge was that they needed to choose their “favorite” of their own two bowls… and then pass it over three places to the right. They now had one of their own, and one of another student’s! Their week-long challenge is that they need to do their best trimming & refining of both bowls before the next class!



Categories: classes, lillstreet, wheelthrowing

So fun to be back from the holidays… and kicking off a new session of pottery classes! My Beginning Wheelthrowing class started last night with some returning faces, a good number of newbies and a lot of enthusiasm!!!… oh yeah, and some OREOs too!!!


Categories: Chicago, lillstreet

Big equipment outside of Lillstreet… working on the Metra train line and taking up a LOT of much-needed parking spaces!!!

Categories: kiln firing, lillstreet

An empty soda kiln filled with potential & possibility.
Gotta love the patina, colors & textures created by soda build-up & residue
from the frequent firings in the Lillstreet soda kiln.

Categories: lillstreet

Looks like the Wheel C classroom is coming along nicely with brand new shelving for the students… can’t wait to see everyone filing them up!!! My new class starts next Tuesday night!!! Just hoping it’s not a crazy, mad-dash-rush to get the good ones… although we all know it will be!

Categories: lillstreet

And it looks like someone else had been busy too… new shelves are already going up in the Wheel C classroom… looks like we’ll actually have new shelves ready when the new class session starts next week at Lillstreet!

Categories: lillstreet

Looks like Lillstreet is getting a small make-over! Well, at least in the Wheel C classroom…
where there “used to be” shelves there against that wall?! I know they’re working hard
to make new shelves before our classes start up again next week!

But look how nice & spacious it appears without the shelves… just sayin’…

Categories: classes, food, lillstreet

Last night in my pottery class, my students pulled out all the stops with possibly the biggest potluck feast ever!!! We had a theme… retro flashback childhood favorites! I of course had to make my traditional birthday cake… “Mississippi Mud”… a decadent concoction that my Mom used to make every year for my birthday! Chocolate cake with coconut, a layer of marshmallow fluff and then a layer of fudge swirled on top!!!

And YES, I do have the palate of a four year old!!!

And for the record… the leftover cupcakes went to my Summer Campers today…
and the leftover cookies will come with me to camp tomorrow!!! Lucky kids!

Categories: lillstreet, sculpture, summer camp

This week my little Summer Campers have been working hard building large sculptures… photos to come! Tomorrow we finish painting them in the morning and set-up a gallery show for the afternoon. If you’re around town and looking for a fun art experience… c’mon by for the kid’s Sculpture Art Gallery Show at Lillstreet from 3:00-3:30pm in the Kid’s Rooms!