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

Great patterns & reliefs on pressed ceiling tiles in the theater lobby at Drury Lane. Might need to make some new stamps now???

Categories: Chicago, patterns, tiles

Simple mosaic in the underground Jackson “L” Station
on my way home from the Shamrock Shuffle.

And then a not-so-simple mosaic ceiling in the atrium dome of Marshall Field’s…
err, I guess we’re supposed to call it Macy’s now?!

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Categories: patterns, process, production, stamped

Stamped, trimmed and now painting a layer of colored slip accents on these cuties…
little flower pots for my Spring art fairs!

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Categories: patterns, porcelain, process

So after accepting the “thrownback THROWDOWN challenge” from Taylore…
and throwing my platter with a layer of black slip, it was time to start the sgraffito decoration process. Now let me just say from the git-go, that I am NOT a proficient sgraffito-ist. In fact this might be my very first intentional sgraffito project… something more than just some¬† cut-line leaf patterns. I had to do a bit more planning on this one to determine my pattern, with textures and contrasts before even starting. When I finally had a plan in my head, I could begin the process. And here we go…

I started with a pointed oval cut-out pattern and a needle tool.
A little light tracing to get me started before I put the first cut in.

It’s hard to turn back once that first cut is in place!

The second cut?… not so bad..

Loving my new carving tools from DiamondCore Tools.
Great quality blades giving me nice smooth lines! They glide right through the clay!

I must admit that once you get going it gets kind of addictive! A little here. A little there.
Some texture here… some “shaded” areas with half of the slip carved away.
I like the color variation and the texture working together.

After awhile my pattern started to come together.
Kind of an organic leaf pattern with a bit of a stylized Art Deco twist.

So lucky to have this great collection of carving tools. Each blade is a different shape for a different cut mark. Each of them extra sharp thanks to DiamondCore Tools. The sharper the blade, the smoother the cut. So fun to finally put them to a real use… as they were probably intended!!!

But I will admit that it was tough to use them all… as I have definitely found my favorite!!!
It’s the V-tip Pencil Carverthe yellow one! I love the sharp beveled edge V-cut it makes into the clay. A bit of width to the cut with a crisp bottom line inside.

Part way through I switched to the Square-tip Relief Carver to do a little relief carving apparently, who knew?... but more to just take out wider areas of the black slip. Trying to create a cleaner white area with a bit of a deeper, smoother cut. And some extra color contrast happening on my platter.

After awhile feverishly working away in the studio, I ended up with this… for now.
And I’m pretty darn pleased with myself. Not bad for a first attempt…
might be onto something here?!

Although I’m still not 100% confident that I’m done carving?!
I think one of the hardest parts to this is actually knowing when to call it done.
You could carve away forever… and end up with a plain white plate!!!

So we’ll see… the “Sgraffito Surprise Challenge” continues tonight in my LILLSTREET THROWDOWN class. Each of my students should be bringing in their complete platters too. I can’t wait to see them all done. I’ve seen a few along the way, a few sneak peeks here & there, but I can’t wait to see them all. Until then, I think I might have an hour or so before class to consider adding a bit more… because you know my theory… More Is More!

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Categories: patterns, seasons

Morning snow on the backyard garden bench.
Texture. Pattern. Snow.

Categories: artists, classes, patterns, porcelain

As part of our last pottery class, my students were challenged to make a plate for our class White Elephant type trading-stealing game. After a lot of fun & trading, I came home with this porcelain beauty made by my teaching assistant Susan Slogoff. Using liquid latex & black underglaze for her stunning surface design.

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Categories: artists, food, patterns

Tasty potluck treats and a delicious sgraffito plate by my teaching assistant Susan Slogoff
for my Tuesday night class.

Categories: artists, color, patterns

Contemporary quilts in the Lillstreet Gallery Annex.
Abstract pattern by Sarah Nishiura… and gridded & printed by Jordana Robinson.

Categories: mugs, patterns, soda-fired, textures

Just playing with some new textures, patterns, lines and new ways to make more mugs!!!
There’s definitely some good potential here. Time to push it further!!!

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Categories: bowls, classes, patterns, textures

I started this “beveled bowl” carving project as a demo for my class a couple weeks back. It has taken a “little longer” than expected… a little bit here, a little bit there… and I feel like I could keep “cleaning it up” forever. But tonight I finally called it “done.” Of course I had to keep telling myself “It’s just a demo, it’s just a demo…” I started by throwing a bowl with slightly thicker walls than usual. And let it stiffen up a soft leatherhard so I could trim a nice foot. Then I brought the bowl to class to start the demo. I used my Xacto knife to incise horizontal lines while the bowl was on the wheel. Then I moved it over to a banding wheel and incised vertical lines. Hopefully evenly spaced… I eye-balled it, so who knows… but it created sixteen sections. The incising is to establish “sections” that will be carved, as well as cut lines so the bevels “pop out” better later. Do NOT carve all the way through the bowl!!!

Then it’s time to start carving… I attack one square at a time. Beveling the section from top to bottom in one row, and then bottom to top in the adjacent rows. The effect is alternating bevel directions all the way around the bowl. Yes, this is going to take awhile… sixteen vertical sections and five horizontal bands. That makes 80 squares to carve!!!

One by one. All the way around. Trying to keep it clean and consistent. Of course you’ll need to go over each section a couple times. Some come out cleaner than others… some will be a struggle. I would also recommend not doing this trick with clay that has a loft of grog in it. The smoother the clay the cleaner the carving will be without revealing a lot of rough grog chunks.

Of course I could keep going.. keep carving… keep cleaning. The smoother the lines the better, but seriously, at some point I just had to call this one done. It’s JUST a class demo after all. A lot of work to show off a fun carving “trick.” Hopefully the glaze will cover up the parts that I “gave up” on!!! And maybe a little Dremel sanding before glazing if worse comes to worse… and my OCD kicks in before it gets glazed. I could work on this one forever…

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