Gary Jackson: Fire When Ready Pottery
A Chicago potter’s somewhat slanted view of clay & play
Categories: kiln firing, mugs, production

My studio neighbor Cathi asked if I had any greenware to add to her bisque… of course I said “YES!!!” She was loading some odd-sized pieces and knew that she would have a few spaces for some “filler.”

On the bottom layer, she had this one low, flat cylinder planter form. I proceeded to surround it AND fill it with mugs!!! And even better, all of the new mini vases are stashed inside the mugs!

And a little more room on the top layer… to which I double-stacked my mugs with just a sliver of air-space at the top. About a 1/16th of an inch clearance for the lid to close!!! Plenty of space!!! And I got all 55 mugs into her kiln as “kiln filler”!!! Whoo-hoo!!!

Categories: mugs, production

More mugs… dried and ready for a bisque firing!


Categories: mugs, process, production, tools

I was getting ready to paint some colored flashing slip accents on another batch of mugs. But every time I do this, I wish I could see better where I’ve painted. This particular slip color is just too close to the color of my clay body. Hard to keep track of where you’ve already been!

So I finally did it… I added some food coloring into my bucket of slip. The plan is to tint the slip so it shows up better… all the while knowing that the food coloring will burn out during firing. Cool trick, huh?

So I squeezed a few drops of yellow food coloring into my bucket of Smooth Orange Flashing Slip… and if you wait a few minutes before stirring, you get this really groovy pattern as the food coloring spreads. You kinda just want to stand there and watch!!!

Eventually I had to get back to work… so I stirred it up and started painting the slip accents on some mugs. I like to paint the top section as well as a center detail on each stamp. Since I only had yellow food coloring, the color change was not too dramatic. But it did give the slip a bit of a pale yellow tint so it was easier to see what I had painted and what I hadn’t as I was rotating the mug.

Categories: mugs, production, stamped

Adding some handles to the stamped cylinders. Making mugs is my favorite thing to do. So I’ve got them all done… and now they just need some painted accents with colored flashing slips!!!



Categories: mugs, porcelain, soda-fired, stamped

A sweet little soda-fired porcelain cup fresh from the kiln!



Categories: mugs, process, production, stamped, stamps

It’s been a long morning of stamping cylinders. One step closer to making another batch of mugs. This time I made a few different shapes of cylinders… kinda hoping to find a new one that intrigues me. I also “forced” myself to do all the stamping with the new batch of stamps I made a couple weeks ago. So here are a few new mug shown before & after stamping… as well as the stamp that I used to make the pattern.

Mug A

Mug B

Mug C

Mug D

Mug E

Mug F

Mug G

Mug H

Mug I

Mug J

Mug K

Mug L

Mug M

Mug N

Mug O

Mug P

Mug Q

Mug R

Mug S

So now all of the cylinders are stamped and under plastic.
Next up will be trimming the bottoms and adding handles.


Categories: movies, mugs, process, production, studio, television, tools

I frequently get asked what my studio looks like…. well, here it is as I was working at my wedging table this afternoon. A lot of pegboard. A lot of tools. A lot of handles to be attached to mugs!!! And one of my favorites on the TV… any guesses?





Categories: mugs, process, production

After the workshop, I was back in the studio to turn my stamped cylinders into mugs.
So I started by wedging up some reclaim clay. It’s the same clay body as the thrown cylinders, but I needed to dry it out a bit as it was still too squishy. So I wedged it and then flattened out pieces as slabs so the moisture would soak into my canvas-covered table faster… and then wedged it back up again. I then cut it up into 36 nuggets of clay… one for each of the cylinders. It’s going to be a LONG afternoon!

Then I take each “nugget” and slam it against the table, throwing it a bit away from me so it compresses and elongates at the same time. I rotate the nugget in between each toss. After a few times, you start to get this “carrot” shaped piece of clay.

Then I pull my handles the old-fashioned way. Holding the thicker part of the “carrot” at the top, wetting my hand and sliding it down with a bit of friction. It’s that repeated swipe of friction that starts to lengthen the clay and make it into a strappy handle.Once I get it to the width & thickness I like, I do a quick flick, loop and squish to get them to stand up like this. I like how it establishes the curve of the handle right at the start. Easier than trying to manipulate a straight strap into a curve later.

I let them set-up for about 15-20 minutes. I want them to be malleable, but not sticky or squishy. Then I set in to attaching them. I do a bit of scoring on the cylinder, and then cut off the “good” portion of the handle that I want to use. I score the end of the handle and add some slip. Carefully squishing them together and smoothing out the attachment. I always do the top attachment first, but then do the same for the bottom once I’ve established the right size for the handle.

One the handle is attached both top & bottom, it’s on to the task of smoothing it all together. Trying to make it look nice and smooth, like the handle has grown out of the mug and is actually part of the mug… not just a squished on attachment.

Score. Slip. Repeat…  Score. Slip. Repeat…   Score. Slip. Repeat…  33 more times!

And now all 36 mugs are back under wraps for the night.
Tomorrow night I plan to add some accents with colored flashing slips.







Categories: artists, mugs, porcelain

Last night was the opening of the new Mugshot Monday Show at the Lillstreet Gallery.
It was a nice collection of mugs as curated through the many potters who post on Instagram for #mugshotmondays.

I was totally transfixed by these highly “constructed” mugs by Colby Charpentier.
Such an amazing assemblage of porcelain parts & pieces… like these…

In the end… this masterpiece will soon be joining my own Mug Collection!!! WHOO-HOO!!!

And then after snatching up the incredibly complex mug….
I decided to add yet another mug… much more simple & subtle… and unintentionally sticking with a monochromatic porcelain theme with this understated beauty by Bianka Groves.


Categories: mugs, process, production, stamped, stamps

I started the evening with a bunch of cylinders… thirty-six to be exact.
They were way too plain… begging for a bit of textured fun.

So I grabbed two stamps and set forth… first, a single row of lager stamps along the indentation. Which by the way, is the perfect “trick” to help keep your stamps straight.

Then a little “detailing” inside of the indentation to break it up and make it look a bit les obvious.

And then the same small stamp turned and tapped under the original larger stamp.

And here are the two stamps that did all of the work…

One done… thirty-five more to go!!!

Done… ready to be wrapped for the night. Trimming & handles still to come…