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

So I’ve got too many keys. I’m one of those who have far too many keys for home, studio, car, etc. So many that I need to color-code them. These are my studio keys. My keychain of home keys is even worse. But I thought I would tackle this smaller batch first.

When we were at the Chicago Triathlon Expo, my friend Chris and I we intrigued by one of the vendors. For everyone who struggles with too many keys… this might be the answer?!

So we each bought a couple of them. One for my studio keys, another for my home keys. It took me just a couple minutes to organize my studio keys into this small, easy key system. I love it already!!!

And then it opens up… like a Swiss Army Knife… pretty groovy, huh???

So now I’ve got to tackle my home keys… a little different as I have fourteen keys on there!!! Might be a little tougher to organize & streamline… but I’m encouraged and eager to be more Key.Smart with those too!!!

Click here for more Key.Smart information.


Categories: organization

Fastest emissions test EVER!!!
Good for another year and a half.
Not even two minutes and I was done… and NO, I wasn’t exaggerating!

Quick in. Quick out. Done.

Categories: organization, special events

Just hit the “SEND” button… look at me, with a full 26 hours to spare!!!

Categories: organization

Well, I guess it’s time to get started, huh?
Receipts. Statements. Paperwork. Everywhere… and April 15th just a few days away!!!

Categories: organization, studio

Well, the “new canvas” project kicked it off and I’ve been cleaning my studio ever since. I think it’s shaping up nicely. Cleaned. Sorted. Labeled. Reconstituted. Threw away a bunch of stuff. Hasn’t been this clean since HGTV was there.

So what’s next???…

Categories: organization, studio

It’s been a LONG time coming!
I got my wedging table several years ago when I moved into my current studio space. It was a “gift” from my friend & (former) pottery studio neighbor Emily Murphy. It had been used in her studio, and she was bequeathing it to me. Since then, I’ve made a LOT of pots… wedging on that same table all the time. Well, over the years the canvas covering has been weathering and growing thread-bare in spots. I had even super-glued a few of the “rips” back down onto the table trying to keep it viable a little longer. But I knew it had to be recovered at some point. Like I said, it’s been a LONG time coming!

So I actually started the project yesterday. I dove right in and started ripping off the old canvas. Removing as many staples as I could along the way. I actually breathed a sigh of relief when I figured out that I could shimmy the table out of it’s tight space. I was dreading the table recovering project because I was afraid I might need to move shelving just to get to the table! Apparently not… with a inch to spare!

But then as I was taking the canvas off, I noticed that the plywood top was no longer flat & smooth. I knew there were a few “issues’ because I was getting “textured” slabs when I threw them on the table. I thought I would just fill in a few holes & dents, and then sand down the ridges from where the wood had swollen from all of the water soaking through the canvas.

But one thing led to another… and before I knew it, I had pretty much filled in the entire table!!! You know… I couldn’t stop myself. And only after I had run out of patching material, did I let it dry and then sanded it flat. Note: when the purple color disappears the patching is dry!

I knew I didn’t want the wood swelling to happen again, so I decided to seal the table with polyurethane. Nothing special. Just what I had extra of at home. I figured anything sealing the wood is better than nothing, right?! So I painted a pretty generous layer of polyurethane on the table and let it dry overnight.

When I came back into the studio today, my table was dry and very smooth! Yeah!!! No more “textured”slabs unless I decide to put the texture into the clay!

So I dug out the box that had the canvas for my table. And I had to dust off the box. Here’s how long I’ve been “planning” this little project… I purchased my canvas from Continental Clay way back in May when I was up in Minneapolis for the 2013 St. Croix Valley Pottery Tour. So yes, it’s been eight months since I purchased the canvas. Don’t judge. I had a lot of pots to make during that time. So now I’m kicking off the New Year with a few projects I’ve been putting off for far too long!

I unrolled the canvas and laid it on top of my table. I sprayed it down with water to dampen the canvas. I’ve always heard that you should wet the canvas before you attach it. That way you can stretch it tight, and it will get even tighter as the canvas dries.

Let the stapling begin!
I stapled one of the short sides first. And then pulled it tight and stapled the opposite short side next. The one of the long sides starting at the center and working out. Then the final long side pulling as tight as I could and still staple at the same time.

Yeah, so I probably could have pulled the canvas a bit tighter. Sure, I probably could have made neater corners. But for my first time re-canvasing a table, I think I did pretty darn good?! Sure, it’s a little disappointing when it’s dirty already and I haven’t even put any clay on the table yet?!!!

Even better… I got it done in time to get things back in place so I could watch “The Golden Globes” while cleaning up my mess!!! And my wedging table will probably never look THIS clean ever again!

So now I have a few more projects to tackle. I’ve got SO much stuff in my studio. Things that I’ve collected over the years and find that I haven’t used them for years! So my studio is definitely in need of some early Spring Cleaning!!! I think I’m going to focus on that this week before I actually jump back into production mode.

Categories: holiday, organization

Whew… just spent the ENTIRE DAY de-Christmasing my place and
carrying everything (including Home Show pottery) down three flights of stairs!
Exhausting. But my place looks so much larger & cleaner now!!! Whoo-hoo!!!
I’m just glad there was a break in our crazy “polar vortex” weather
and I could finally chop through the layers of ice on the back stairs.
Loving this heatwave & winter melt.

And now it’s off to the studio for another project I’ve been putting off for far too long.
No rest for the weary!

Categories: Chicago, organization, sculpture

Well, today was the day. Long awaited. Long dreaded.
Not the best way to spend a beautiful Monday morning. But sometimes you just HAVE to!

So I received the dreaded letter from the IRS a couple weeks prior to filing my 2012 taxes. It said that I was being audited on my 2011 tax return. It’s the letter that no one EVER wants to receive. So not only did it make me dread doing my 2012 taxes a bit more, the 2011 audit was always in the back of my mind. After filing 2o12 on April 15th, with just a few hours to spare, I started working on clarifying & organizing my 2011 documents & records.

Now let’s just say… I’m not the best with numbers. I’m an artist.

I do the best I can when it comes to my takes. I follow Turbo Tax and answer all of the questions to the best of my knowledge. But seriously, do any of you REALLY know where all of those numbers are going?! I know I don’t. But I kind of figure that as long as I answer all of the questions honestly and have the receipts and documents to back it up, I’ll be okay in the long run. But still… tension & anticipation hoping & waiting to see how it all plays out as the IRS Auditor starts tackling my account.

Her first question was too see my documentation. My Excel Spreadsheet.
Once I forced myself to hold back my laugh, I explained that I’m an artist and I don’t do spreadsheets. But I do have a ledger sheet that I’ve created myself and fill in manually throughout the year. No spreadsheets here!

Luckily, after a few false starts, the IRS Auditor started to understand my “process.” As my friend Andrea calls it “Gary Math.” And she started to see where my numbers came from. She double-checked some of my totals, checked a few of my receipts, made a bunch of copies and asked a LOT of questions. I had to explain to her what my business was, how I make my money, how I make pottery, how I price my wares and a whole lot more! I think she was just trying to get an understanding of what she was dealing with here. Although I’m not sure that anyone who’s not a potter can REALLY understand what we all go through. At one point, she even asked my where the numbers that represent my “salary” from making pottery was. This time I laughed out loud. Do any of us really get paid to make pots? I know I don’t. No salary here. Everything I earn goes right back into the business so I can make more!!! It’s a labor of love… and I know I’ll NEVER get rich making pots. I do it because I love it..

So, after three-and-half-hours of my life that I’ll never get back, she did admit that I’ve done a really good job of keeping my records. She was impressed that everything was well organized, color-coded and represented well in my ledger. She said she was impressed… although she would still prefer to see all of my categories on a spreadsheet!

I must admit it all turned out better than I expected. At this point, she thinks that I’m pretty good. There was only one small issue she said shouldn’t make much of an impact. In the next two or three weeks she said she’ll give me the final determinations… but that I shouldn’t be concerned.

On my way out from the Federal Building, I did take a moment to enjoy the “Flamingo” sculpture by Alexander Calder. One of the nicest parts of downtown Chicago is all of the art, architecture & sculpture everywhere you turn.

After the audit, I went back to the studio to make more stuff. More stuff that my IRS Auditor now understands. But I was too excited… and I thought I needed a small reward. So I walked over to Margie’s and splurged!!! And yes, I called it “lunch.”

Almost made it worth “suffering” through the IRS Audit?! Well, not really…

Categories: organization

And done.
With an hour and a half to spare!

Categories: organization, special events

This weekend has been two VERY long, arduous days of sorting, compiling, logging, listing, adding, and all of the other not-so-fun tasks that go along with doing your taxes! I “think” I might be done… but still hoping to find that one last receipt or deduction. After all, I still have one more day, right? Why hurry when I’ll again be sending money to the government?!

And after this year’s go at it, I think I might finally need to admit that an Excel spreadsheet or two might help?! Or better yet, an accountant?… or at least a better calculator!!!