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

I’ve had some piles of dried clay in my studio for some time now. Bags & bags of dried porcelain scraps waiting to be reclaimed. And the BEST part?… it’s all FREE CLAY!!! Because this is not even MY reclaim scraps! Instead, they are scraps from a potter friend of mine up in Minneapolis who doesn’t feel it’s worth her time & effort to reclaim her own clay. So I get to pick up her scraps every Spring when I go up for the Minnesota Pottery Tour.         SCORE!!!

So I took all of the dried scraps out of the bags a started breaking them up. It was surprising to me how many large pots & pieces there were still intact in the bags? And what fun it was to bang them up & pulverize them into a fine powder.

I also cleaned out my orange reclaim bin… as I had “dirty” stoneware in there last.
And I wanted to start with a clean bin for my “clean” porcelain reclaim.

Once the clay was broken up & pulverized into small pieces. I started dumping it all into the bin. Good News. Bad News… BAD – There was more reclaim than my bin would hold. GOOD – There was more reclaim than my bin would hold so that’s A LOT of free clay!

When the bin was full of scraps, I added a few buckets full of water. The plan is to “submerge” the clay scraps under water. I then took a long stick and stirred it up as best I could.

This orange bin of goopey clay will sit and slake down for a couple weeks while I work on other stuff. I’ll stir it up a couple more times, add some more water as needed. When I feel that it has all dissolved… and the extra water has started to evaporate, I’ll turn it our on the a lrage plaster bat to help get the excess water out… then it’s a LOT of wedging… but then it’s also a LOT of FREE PORCELAIN!!!

 

 

Save

Categories: mugs, porcelain, soda-fired, stamped

A sweet little stamped & soda-fired porcelain mug
with a wide range of colors & flashing effects to brighten your day!

Categories: art fair, artists, porcelain

Great to see my friend & former teacher Steve Lee
showing at one of the pottery tour stops on Friday.
Luckily, one of his inlaid porcelain plates came home with me!!
So great to have Talented Friends!!!

Categories: artists, porcelain, pottery

Our first stop Friday on the St. Croix Pottery Tour found us having a nice chat with sgraffito master Matt Metz. And then this beauty decided it “had to” come home with me to join my ever-growing Matt Metz Collection. First souvenir of the St. Croix Pottery Tour!

Categories: porcelain, production

Playing with porcelain again… and a bit of black slip!
Pretty good chance that there’s some decorative sgraffito carving in my not-so-distant future!

Save

Save

Categories: mugs, porcelain, stamped

Stamped porcelain mug for Mugshot Monday.

Categories: porcelain, process, textures

So I’ve had this porcelain platter under plastic for quite some time now…
pretty much back to the “Sgraffito Surprise Challenge” for my Throwdown Class.
I threw the platter shortly after that and added a layer of black slip. Unfortunately, once it was under plastic wrap, the urgency seemed to dissipate as well. Sure, I had to spray it a couple times… but it all seems good. So I trimmed it last night and started to decorate it with some sgraffito carving.

I started with a “template” leaf shape I cut out of a Post-it Note…
that’s the first thing I found! So I traced it into the black slip with a wire needle tool.

The first cut is always the toughest!
It’s tough to COMMIT… once you start, there’s no way to turn back!

And I love using me DiamondCore Tools – especially this V-tip Carving Tool – my fave!!!
Clean, crisp, lines that carve out SO smoothly. Like buttah!

Once I had carved out the first round of petals, I started freehanding some more curves.

And then I decided to do some “shading” with some straight lines in some of the sections.

I sort of love how the trimmings just lay there… twisting, turning, scattering.
So much fun to simply blow off to remove!

Then I switched to the DiamondCore square-tip carver to clean out a few sections to make them smooth & white.

After seeing them smooth, I decided I like the texture better. So I went back in after cleaning them with my DiamondCore V-tip tool to add some more texture lines in the white sections.

Almost there… lots of trimmings piling up!!! I love a good work in progress shot!

But then I thought that there were a couple too many fully black sections. And yet I knew I didn’t want to change them to white or “fray” as they would contrast with the sections next to them. So I decided to add a few white dots… what wetter way than a quick turn of a drill bit?!

And there it is… “done” for the evening and now back under plastic.
Of course, forcing yourself to stop sgraffito-ing is sometimes the hardest part.
So I “think” I’m done… but I may need to do a few more refinements when I get back in?!

And now

Categories: artists, lillstreet, porcelain

It was so much fun to see one of my current pottery students showing off a bit! Tonight was the Opening Reception at iD Chicago in Bucktown for new ceramic pieces by Shannon Steele-Knuckles. It was great to see the pieces she’s been working on – all thrown on the wheel and then altered, glazed and altered again. Using layers of glazes, underglazes & some sandblasting to get her beautiful finishes. She was so passionate & inspiring when she talked about her work it was contagious. Beautifully done Shannon!

Save

Save

Categories: mugs, porcelain, soda-fired, stamped

Fresh out of the soda kiln just in time for Mugshot Monday.
Lots of colors & flashing effects on this little one!

Save

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!

Save