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

Don’t you just hate coming into the studio and finding “that” bowl sitting on a shelf to set up a bit… while all the timing telling yourself this is a bad idea so far out of the way… and then totally forgetting to trim it or wrap it up before going home!!! Done. Dry.

And sure, it was already stamped & detailed. Of course.

Categories: clay, process, studio

So my reclaim pile of clay has been sitting on my plaster bat for awhile…
as the extra moisture settles out and the clay stiffens up. It was still a bit sticky to the touch, but firm enough to get started with the cutting, wedging & bagging part of the process. I start by shaving off large chunks of the clay with my wire tool.

You can see that my reclaim clay mixture is just that… a MIXTURE.
I am more than willing to mix-up all of my assorted reclaim scraps. I will add in any kind of clay as long as it’s a high-fire cone 10 clay body. So you can see there are still some sections of porcelain, darker, ochre clay, lighter B-clay, some organic grayness… and unexpectedly, some blemishes of terra cotta red that must have gotten in there accidentally. Luckily, there wasn’t a lot… so I figure it will just blend in and add a bit of iron-richness to the clay… and it won’t affect the final firing temperature of the mixed clay.

Cause after all… as I tell my students… IT’S JUST CLAY!!!

I take the large chunks and lay them out on my wedging table so the canvas can soak out some more of the extra moisture. I do a very brief wedging of the clay, and then shave off layers and re-stack them into small piles.

I take the stacked piles, cut them in half and stack them back on themselves. Cut the stack in half and layer them on top of themselves again. Repeat a couple times and the layers begin to get thinner & thinner as the clay mixes evenly. It’s a LOT quicker & easier than just straight wedging. The layers squish together easily with a little bit of gravity & slamming down on the table to help along the way!

A bit of quick wedging, and then I set it aside to carve off another chunk from my reclaim pile.
Piece by piece… slice by slice… chunk by chunk…

As I wedge up the piles, the clay is still a bit wetter than I want, so I throw them out stretched as a quick slab… and stand them up so they get some extra air exposure.

Some more wedging of the pieces and they get placed in clear bags. I don’t worry too much about a “perfect” wedging at this point, as I know I will do more wedging when I get around to actually using the clay.

So after a couple hours of cutting, layering & wedging…
I now have well over a hundred pounds of reclaimed clay.
FREE CLAY just from a little work… my favorite kind of clay!!!






Categories: clay, process

It felt great to back in the studio today… even if it was just to make a few new stamps, water the plants, take down some Christmas decorations and to turn out a LOT of reclaim clay that’s been piling up & slaking down for quite awhile. Can’t wait to make something outta this big gooey mess!!!

Categories: kiln firing, process, production

And it wasn’t just one kiln… there were a couple kilns leading up to the holidays. Here’s another bisque kiln that I fired prior to my last soda kiln firing. A lot of mugs, bowls & sgraffito pieces… as well as lots of ornaments, both mine and my student Christine’s!

Christine’s ornaments even got their own shelf!!!…
with a little barricade to keep them from rolling off.

Categories: kiln firing, process, production

Okay, so I’ve been a little busy… so busy that I never really had the time to post pictures of my bisque kilns prior to my Holiday Home Shows. So I’m just sharing the memories… as many of these posts have already found their forever homes! Not my tightest kiln pack, but I was rushing to get things fired before the deadlines… and a few things were still a bit damp!

Categories: ornaments, process, soda-fired

And for those of you who keep wondering or asking about how I soda-fire my ornaments… well, here you go! I make these little clay tripods, bisque fire them, dip the tips in kiln wash and then place each ornament upside down on the tripod. Sure, one or two of them might “jump off” during the firing… but it’s a small price to pay for a lot of beautiful ornaments that have nice soda flashing all around each ornament.

And then the next question?… YES, I throw the tripods away after each firing.
Maybe I could re-use them?… but my gut tells me no.
I know that pieces shrink during the final soda-firing. And I’m afraid that if I use an “already-shrunk” tripod with a “still-to-be-shrunk” ornament, the difference in shrinkage during firing might not work well… and there might be some “shifting” during the firing and ornaments might fall off. So I hedge my bets… and make new tripods for every ornament firing!

Categories: kiln firing, mugs, pottery, process, production

After a couple hours of “Pottery Tetris”… I finally got my soda kiln filled to the brim last night. Lots of pots & ornaments that will be coming out just in time for next weekend’s HOLIDAY HOME SHOW!!!

The Back Stack…

The Front Stack…

Categories: glaze, organization, process, production

My studio cart works especially well when I’m glazing & wadding for a soda kiln. When my cart is full… it pretty much equals a full kiln. So then I put these masking tape “seat belts” on the shelves so no pots can jump off during their ride down the rickety freight elevator to the kiln room.

Categories: glaze, ornaments, process, production

These ornaments have been wiped off so the glaze stays in each stamp… headed into my soda kiln when I load this evening. These will be fired upside down on little tripods… get a metal ring after firing… and then make their big debut at My Holiday Home Show next weekend!!!!

Categories: glaze, ornaments, process, production

Adding a bit of tenmoku glaze into the stamped impressions on my latest batch of holiday ornaments. I’ll wipe off the top surface to leave the glaze neatly inlaid in each stamp.