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

Stamped & ready to start trimming…
and then ready for adding some colored flashing slip accents
on the ones that will be soda-fired.

Categories: production

No time to rest… while making more spoon rests!

Categories: process, production, tools

You know how I LOVE trimming…
and even more so with a nice sharp Bison Trimming Tool
and clay at just the right stage of leatherhard
so you get nice smooth ribbons of clay coming right off!

Categories: mugs, process, production, stamped

Adding colored flashing slip accents to my latest batch of mugs
to celebrate another MUGSHOT MONDAY!

Categories: pottery, production, television, vases

With all of the crazy stories about a certain EMPIRE star these days
I thought it might be fun to do a Flashback Friday to 2016
when some of my pottery made its big debut on EMPIRE
only to be smashed!!!

Click here to see more about the story & production!

Then click here to see how it went down on the show!!!
And by “went down” I literally mean smashing DOWN on the floor!!!


Categories: mugs, process, production, studio

Celebrating another MUGSHOT MONDAY with another batch of mugs. This time with some dramatic light & shadows… “thanks” again to my ongoing studio lighting dilemma!

Categories: bowls, process, production

And by the time the afternoon was over, all of my class demo bowls had been trimmed and are now drying overnight. Another quick set of bowls done… for now.

Categories: bowls, process, production, tools

So while it snowed this afternoon, I was trimming…
and using my favorite Bison Trimming Tool to make the perfect spiral ribbons of clay!

Categories: bowls, classes, production, wheelthrowing

This week in my Tuesday night pottery class, we did my favorite demo of EVERY session! It’s the night when I teach my class how to make bowls on purpose.. instead of a cylinder gone bad!!! We talked about how to make one from the get-go… starting with a nice smooth curve on the inside. And NOT a flat bottom or a gouge in the side anywhere! So they all gathered around so I could do my demo where I make that one “perfect” basic bowl.

BOWL #1 – The basic round bowl. This was our “starting place.”

So after throwing the first bowl… I set my students free to go back to their wheels and start making some bowls. While they were throwing, I was too!!! I continued to throw more “basic” bowls… a full bag of clay-s worth… which turned out to be eighteen bowls. Pretty close to matching basic bowls.

When I was done throwing the bowls, re re-convened for Part Two of my bowl demo. This is the fun part where I show them some fun “tricks” they can use to make their own “basic” bowls not so basic any more!!!

Two simple fluted twists, one on each side.

And if two fluted twists are good, eight might be better?!

Then  we took the top rim and flared it out & down to make a thin flanged rim.

If the thin flange was goo, maybe a wider flange would be better?

Folded out to make a thing flange and then added four fluted edges.

Who says a bowl needs to stay round?… and I’m thinking this might get a handle over from dent to dent.

I carefully split the rim using the pointed end of my wooden knife… and then dented it in at four places.

After splitting the rim, I dented four spaces inwards, and then again four spaces outwards.

After splitting the rim, I carefully pinched it back together in eight places.

So Stacey, one of my former students who has seen the bowl demo before, challenged me to try a TRIPLE split rim!!! And you know I’m always up for a challenge!!! In retrospect, I kinda wish I had left a little more clay up in the rim if I had known I was going to go for the triple. But I perservered… and then pinched & pressed out in eight places.

My students were impressed… and referred to this a the “churro bowl.”

Using my metal dragonscale tool, I pressed in the edges to make a stylized flower in the bottom of the bowl

After the first dozen bowls, I shifted gears and introduced my students to colored slip.
Just another fun way of decorating their “basic” bowls… to make them less basic!!!

I slathered on a layer of thick white slip, and then dragged the curved end of my wooden knife through the slip as the bowl was rotating on my wheel.

A thick layer of slip and then a little finger squiggle through for the pattern.

Using four pieces of newspaper dipped in water, I created a stencil by  placing the newspaper pieces in an open square. I filled that open square with thick slip, dragged a tool through it for the ridges, and then carefully removed the newspaper strips to reveal clean edges.

Another layer of thick white slip, with some rhythmic tapping of a plastic rib through the slip as it was rotating on the wheel.

I carefully cut four letters out of the newspaper… I wet the letters and carefully pressed them smooth to the bowl. I carefully painted over the edges with some thin black slip, and the covered the entire bowl interior. The tough part is finding the newspaper letters to pull them out!!!

First a layer of thick white slip covering the interior, and then some thin black slip from the top edge inwards to blend and create the ombre effect.

For now they’re all under wraps in my studio. I’m pretty sure there’s a “good chance”there might be some stamping & detailing still to come before I trim the bottoms.

So it was another fun night – I LOVE this demo!!!
It’s so much fun to see the lights going off in my student’s heads as their eyes light up during the demo. A great combination of shock & awe as they start to see some of the possibilities. I know I might have overwhelmed thenm a bit… but my goal is that they got my main point…

Have fun.
Try something new.
Make your basic bowl not-so-basic.
Decorate it. make it yours.
I don’t care how.
But just HAVE FUN… it’s just clay!





Categories: mugs, porcelain, process, production, stamped

Back in the studio making my favorite thing… MORE MUGS!!!
Finally getting around to finishing up the porcelain cylinders & threw & stamped last week. So I started by trimming the stamped cylinders now that they are leatherhard. After trimming, I put them back under plastic so they don’t dry out too much.

Then I pulled handles for all of them with some more porcelain. I like to set them up with the handle-curve already established.

When the handles set-up enough to work with them, and they’re no longer squishy,
I cut out the section of the handle I want to use.
A bit of scoring & slipping for the top attachment… score both sides, slip on one.

A little smoosh.. a little smudge… and a little wiggle to get it to attach well.

After smoothing the top of the handle into the mug, I then do the same to the bottom
attachment of the handle. I like to do the top one first so I can actually “see”
the curves & proportions of the handle as I attach the bottom…
cutting, altering and changing things along the way.

A little blending… a little smoothing…
until it looks like it part of the mug, and not just slapped on the side!

Score… Slip… Attach… Smooth… Repeat…
Score… Slip… Attach… Smooth… Repeat…
Score… Slip… Attach… Smooth… Repeat…

Soon enough the batch of mugs was complete.
All cylinders stamped, trimmed and now well-handled!

Even better from the side… at least I think so…

And for now they’re under wraps for the night…
so that the moisture levels can even-out a bit before I open them up to dry!