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

A huge Thank You to all of my students who made The First Annual LILLSTREET THROWDOWN class a success!!! I was so impressed by the group’s bonding, camaraderie & healthy competition. So helpful & supportive of each other along the way. Not to mention their creativity & determination with every project. Thanks to each of you for putting up with my crazy games & challenges. You guys ROCKED IT!!! Thanks for being such a good group. You were so much fun to “play with” each week… you made my job easy!

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Categories: classes, lillstreet

After ten weeks of playful pottery competition… we’ve finally come to the end.
The Closing Ceremonies so to speak. After awarding points to the final teapots, and points to the matching cups & saucer, the totals were tabulated for all participants!

And the Winners are…

MOST CREATIVE… for that amazing Airstream Butter Dish…
“Joe Bowl-A”… also known as Jon!

MOST OVER-THOUGHT… for almost always making at least two entries for every challenge…
“Tay-Tay Clay-Wedger”… also known as Taylore!’

BEST TREATS… my favorite award… for those crazy amazing S’mores Cupcakes!!!
“Peggy Burnish-ine”… also known as Patti!

THIRD PLACE… with a total of 300 points…
“Tay-Tay Clay-Wedger”… also known as Taylore!

SECOND PLACE… with a total of 310 points…
“ClaytinaWatergirl” … also known as Catherine!

And in the much coveted FIRST PLACEwith a Grand Total of 372 points…
“Clay Eagerman”… also known as Chuck.

WINNER of the FIRST ANNUAL LILLSTREET THROWDOWN!

 

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Categories: classes, lillstreet, process, production, stamped, teapot

So we’re now in the final week of classes for this session. Which means my LILLSTREET THROWDOWN students are working frantically on their final challenge… okay, maybe a “double” challenge?! A week and a half ago in class they got the assignment of a teapot for the last class. So they all started out making their best renditions… although several of them had never made a teapot before!

Then last week in class I surprised them with one last twist of a challenge. Now that they have a teapot started… now they need to make two cups & saucers to go along with that teapot! All to be “finished” greenware by this Thursday’s last class. SURPRISE!!!

And of course, I too was challenged to make a teapot along with them… so I am! You know I love a good challenge. So I’m working on my teapots…. yes, plural… you know I can’t do just ONE of anything!!!

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Categories: bowls, lillstreet

Tonight is EMPTY BOWLS at Lillstreet Art Center.
We’re once again doing our best to help the local needy with this great charity fundraiser. Many of the Lillstreet studio members, teachers & students have made & donated HUNDREDS of bowls!!! Come tonight from 5:00-8:00pm and you can purchase a bowl and they’ll fill it with homemade soup and bread from First Slice Pie Cafe! Yummy food for a great cause and you get to keep the bowl… when it’s empty again!!!

Categories: classes, lillstreet, wheelthrowing


As we are in Week Nine of ten, we’re coming down to the wire in my LILLSTREET THROWDOWN pottery challenges class. Last night was their final “Quick-Throw Challenge.” Tallest cylinder thrown with just one pound of clay in 15 minutes. A classic challenge testing their basic throwing skills. I think they were all surprised to find out it wasn’t quite as easy as they had assumed.

After the time was up, we did a bit of comparing…
trying to rank them from top to bottom… tallest to shortest for points!

 

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Categories: classes, creativity, lillstreet

So my students are KILLING IT this session! I’m teaching a new class and having a great time. It’s my LILLSTREET THROWDOWN class loosely base don the BBC reality show. We’re more than halfway through and they’ve just finished their first real handbuilding challenge! Sure, we could have done something easy… but what fun is that. So we dove right in and went for a handbuilt butter dish!!!

And here they are in all of their buttery glory!!!

And a tribute to architect Frank Gehry…

This one was a bit too large… so we were joking that it was “Large Marge-erine.”
So she went for it!!!

Love this one with the attached knife holder…

This one is extra sweet with a handmade ceramic butter knife too!

And probably the most inventive & creative of the bunch…

Even better when put into the scene parked at the ol’ trailer park!!!

Plus, sadly... the one that didn’t quite make it into the kiln in time…
We all would have loved to see this one glazed and done like the rest of them!

And the big winner… with Catherine tackling her handbuilding challenge with porcelain!
With beautiful simplicity and a perfect fit.

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Categories: classes, creativity, lillstreet

So if you recall our last class, I had all of my LILLSTREET THROWDOWN students throw platters “thinking” that they were going for the widest diameter platter. But then I flipped it on them and had them paint it with a dark colored slip… and told them the REAL CHALLENGE was going to be the Sgraffito Challenge… SURPRISE!!!

Of course I threw mine into the mix… since I was challenged to participate by Taylore…
of course, mine wasn’t in for points… just for fun!

I drafted longtime Lillstreet potter Lester to be our special “surprise” Guest Judge.
He was eager to accept, but quickly realized it’s not any easy task ranking all of this hard work from 1 to 15. He took his task very seriously, and gave some very “realistic” comments & critiques along the way. Unfortunately, he started off by saying he’s not a fan of “geometric” sgraffito… so many people had an uphill battlle to win points from Lester!

So here are the “entries” in our first “Sgraffito Surprise Challenge.” To think that they threw these platters a week ago, and they’ve already finished decorating & carving them is pretty impressive… especially when several of my students had never really tackled sgraffito!!! Amazing work team! In no particular order… until the end!

And Ryan’s accidental entry! This was his SECOND sgraffito platter!!! His back-up plan so to speak. It wasn’t intended to be in the contest since he preferred his other one. But in the mix-up of setting up and putting all platters on the table, somehow his made it into the mix! So this angler fish was part of the judging… but points values awarded were worked out to accommodate this slight mix-up.

And the big sgraffito winner… this beauty by Stacey! Even though I wasn;’t the judge… this was my favorite too. I love the way the plant is in the center and overlaps the border. Love the woodcut look of her style. And the way she cleared out the white background but left the texture and just a smidge of color in between. Now I think Stacey needs to make a set of plates like this…each with a different botanical element.

Categories: bowls, classes, lillstreet, production

So last night in my LILLSTREET THROWDOWN challenge class, I surprised my students with another quick-fire throwing challenge. I had them wedge up a large, ten-pound ball of clay much to the griping & moaning of my students. A bigger ball of clay than many of them have ever wedged! I had them all set up a wheel with splash pan, water, tools, etc… all the basics they would need to throw some pots.

The I pulled a small, little mass-produced green bowl from IKEA. And I explained since that is very much a “mass-produced” bowl.. we’re going to mass produce replicas! So the challenge was to throw as many matching little bowls to that sample one off-the-hump as possible in thirty minutes. I did a very quick demo of how to throw off-the-hump for those who had never tackled it before. And then they were off!!! 30 minutes!!! GO!!!

Once they got into the rhythm, and accustomed to the depth, width & technique…
the little bowls just started piling up everywhere! So fun to watch them multiplying.

At the end of the thirty minutes, many of them had come close to finishing the full ten pounds of clay. We brought all of the bowls to the table for a little self-critique, judging and squishing. They were each given points for the number of bowls that were “deemed” matching, or at least close enough. The winner of the challenge was “Tay-Tay Clay-Wedger” with 29 mini bowls!!! Amazing.

Categories: classes, lillstreet

After an hour of class time spent carving, each of the cylinders were considered “done”…
at least for the challenge. Ready for judging and Throwdown Points!

Special thanks to our surprise Guest Judge Darlys Ewoldt from the Lillstreet Metals Dept.
Her design sensibilities and attention to detail really came in handy!

Prior to this “Sgraffito Surprise” they also did a platter throwing challenge with six pounds of clay. Which they “assumed” would be a challenge for points. I told them we were going for widest diameter. But never more details. We left them to “stiffen up” on the wheels while we moved to the tables for this “Sgraffito Surprise.” When the points were awards… then next challenge was revealed…

The platter throwing challenge was really just a w ay for them to make a great “canvas” for themselves. SO I told them they needed to paint a layer of dark slip on their own platters. And now they have a week to carve a sgraffito design onto their platters for judging and points next Thursday night!!!

Here are the carved & decorated cylinders at then end of their hour challenge…

And then the big winner… with her VERY FIRST sgraffito attempt ever!!!
“Peggy Burnish-ine” for the WIN!!!

And of course the whimsical “addition” of a marshmallow PEEP as a handle
could only give her some added bonus points!!!

Special thanks to the folks at  Springfield Pottery for supplying some of our sgraffito visual inspiration for the evening. And for inspiring “Peggy Burnish-ine” to borrow some ideas for her first sgraffito attempt ever!!! A beautiful homage to the sgraffito genius of Jennifer Falter!

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Categories: classes, creativity, lillstreet

Last week in my POTTERY THROWDOWN class, I surprised my students with the “SGRAFFITO SURPRISE”!!! We talked briefly about sgraffito and looked at some examples. And then I “sprung it on them”… one hour to decorate a black slip covered cylinder I had prepped prior to class. So much to watch how each of them approached the challenge… and tackled the blank canvas with some sharp carving tools.

 

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