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!!!

 

 

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Categories: glaze, mugs, process, production

Glazed mugs. If all goes well in the kiln, these should turn out a nice watery green… hopefully accentuating the stamped textures with some glaze runs in between. Fingers crossed.

Time to start loading the kiln… firing & cooling just in time to get everything prepped, priced & packed for this weekend’s art fair in Glenview, Illinois.

Categories: art fair, glaze, mugs, process, production

In the middle of glazing…
one last kiln to be fired before this weekend’s art fair in Glenview, Illinois.

Categories: mugs, process, production, stamped

Bisqued, waxed and waiting to be glazed.

Categories: process, production, vases

So I started with some bottomless cylinders that I had already finessed into ovals. Then I added a smooth slab bottom, scored & slipped, and let them sit overnight after roughly trimming the slab with a smidge of a margin. I placed them on newspaper and under plastic. My hope was that the bottom slab might stiffen up a bit, but the rest of the cylinder would stay moist. And it worked. I also add a small tile weight inside so that there is no extra bulging or warping overnight. Not sure if there would be… but why not take the precaution just in case?

So today I came in to smooth out the bottoms for a more finished edge.
I start by cutting the bottom slab margin off with a needle tool.

Then I flip it over and do a light tapping with a paddle to compress the attachment
and create a bit of a beveled angle along the bottom edge.

More fun with a good action shot, right?

Then I take a stiff green Mud Tool plastic rib to “shave off” the excess clay that bulged out during the paddling.

And then I do some gentle smoothing & refining of the edge. Establishing a good beveled edge, as well as smoothing out the attachment so it looks like it might have been all one piece from the start.

At this point the “could be” done… but I have more plans for these ovals!!!
So they’re wrapped up overnight so I can continue working on them tomorrow after camp.
There’s got to be some texture somewhere, right???

 

Categories: clay, process, summer camp, terra cotta

Apparently no one can resist a bucket full of smooth & creamy terra cotta slip?!

As part of camp, I teach the kids how to make slip.
Actually, it’s kind of a “punishment” for letting their clay dry out too much to use.
We try to keep everything under plastic while they’re working to avoid drying out.
But sometimes they just “forget.”

So to encourage them to remember, I make them flatten the clay out so we can let it dry completely. The next day the use a rolling pin to pulverize it as best they can so we can re-hydrate it back into a nice smooth slip. Apparently, the “punishment” is a bit too FUN for the campers!!!

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Categories: mugs, process, production, stamped

Just finishing some colored slip accents on the last batch of mugs. These ones will be soda-fired so the slip colors should become more vibrant & reactive to the soda atmosphere. Couple more to go, and then calling it a night… as that sunrise bike ride comes around pretty darn early in the morning… followed by another full day of Summer Camp!

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Categories: mugs, process, production

Got some stamped cylinders… stamped ‘em… and now they need handles.
So I pulled these handles and let them set-up a bit before starting to attach them to the cylinders…. and it’s MUGS here we come!!!

Categories: clay, mugs, process, production

Kicking off the day with a pile of wedged clay balls…
oh, what to make?… what to make?… why not start with “my favorites”???

A quick batch of soon-to-be-mug cylinders! You know how I LOVE making mugs!!!

Categories: platters, process, stamped

Another platter fully stamped with one stamp all the way around…
one by one… by one… by one…