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

Today I finished another batch of textured wall pillows. I’ve been putting off making them longer than I should. They’re a special order and I’ve known about them for a long time. Knowing that they’ve got to get into my soda kiln next weekend finally became a “good” deadline for me to get my act together!!! So I’ve made more than I need for the special order… hoping that they all turn out well.

Categories: bowls, process, production

Today I trimmed all of the bowls from my class demo last Tuesday night. The fifteen bowls have all been decorated, altered, stamped and detailed… the last thing to be done before bisque firing was to trim a good foot on each of them. Done.

Categories: bowls, kiln firing, process, production

Tonight I loaded another bisque kiln. And as usual, I tried my best to pack it tight. I think I did pretty well this time… and sadly, a few bowls & an oval casserole did not make it in!!! Good thing I have another bisque kiln scheduled for early next week. For which I need to make a LOT of work to fill that one too!!!

Kiln Layer #1 – flower pots, tumblers, salt & pepper shakers

Kiln Layer #2 – oval casseroles, flower pot drip plates, salt & pepper shakers & tiles.

Kiln Layer #3 – oval casseroles, spoon rests, flower pot drip plates & salt & pepper shakers.

Kiln Layer #4 – bowls, flower pots, salt & pepper shakers… and two adorable terra cotta mugs made by my little friends AJ & Lizzie… who I’m sure have been waiting anxiously to get their masterpieces back!

Categories: production, textures

Before class tonight I had a bit of time to add some flashing slips
to my latest batch of salt & pepper shakers.

These are handbuilt with clay slabs… and I call them “textured tile” salt & peppers because they are similar to the textured tiles I make. Just a bit larger, a bit “puffier” and will someday be filled with spices! After class, I drilled the shaker holes with my power drill… and now they’re drying overnight as I’m loading them into a bisque kiln tomorrow night!

Categories: pottery, process, production

Time to make more oval casseroles!!! So I started by throwing the side walls on the wheel. I let them sit-up so that they’re not squishy & sticky.

Once they get to a good “wet” leatherhardness, I carefully wire them off the bats, and curve them into the oval shapes I like. Then I go around and stamp the patterns… one stamp at a time!!! Then I wrapped them up and let them stiffen up even more.

When I came back the next day, I made some nice slabs of clay and attached them to the thrown oval sides. A lot of scoring & slipping, a little paddling to make a tight connection, and a lot of good smoothing & blending to make it appear as though it was all one piece.

I also added handles and then set them aside… trying to keep them out of my way. It’s getting more than a little crowded in my studio these days!. “Real estate” and shelving are getting very important.

Once I had them all constructed & handled, I did a little bit of slip decorating before I set them off to dry. I’m always concerned with warping as these larger, handbuilt pieces start to dry. So I’ve placed them on elevated plastic grids with a sheet of paper on between. My thought is that the paper will help draw the moisture out, and the elevated grid will allow air circulation around all sides of the pots.

Once these are dry, they’re going to go into the bisque kiln.
Okay, who am I fooling… I need these to be dry FAST so they can get into Wednesday night’s kiln loading. Let’s hope they dry quick… and flat… and crack-free!!!


Categories: production

You know how much I LOVE kiln filler!!!
As I’m replenishing my inventory, I realized I needed to make some more salt & pepper shakers. So I made a few more sets… which will also make wonderful kiln filler.
A double-whammy!!!

Categories: process, production

It was time to make more casserole dishes. And everyone seems to like the ovals…
So here we go again…

I start by throwing bottomless cylinders. If I had bigger bats I could make bigger ovals!

I let them sit out for awhile… drying until they are no longer sticky & squishy. I wire them off the bat and very carefully re-shape them into ovals. They then sit out for another 20 minutes or so until I can stamp the patterns into them. As they stiffen up, I gently move them off the bats and onto white ware boards. I can refine the shape and finish any detailing needed. My white plastic wareboards are actually just cheap kitchen cutting boards I snagged at a flea market!!! Great find at a good price… and I LOVE them!!!

They’ll sit on these wareboards under plastic for a bit, and when they’ve stiffened up even more, it’s time to attach a flat slab bottom to the oval. Carefully flipping the oval to score & slip, and then flipping it back without warping the shape. Some blending & smoothing… paddling & cleaning to get the outer bottom edge all cleaned up so it appears to be one seamless piece.

The last thing is to add some handles so people can easily lift their pots out of the oven. I set them off to the side with a piece of paper under them. It helps keep the oval from sticking to the wareboard AND I “believe” it helps wick some of the moisture away so that the bottom slab dries a bit faster.

Once they’re all smoothed, handled, detailed and “done”… I leave them out to dry on another sheet of paper on an elevated layer of plastic “fluorescent ceiling light” grid. My “theory” is that the air flow underneath the pot helps with even drying so there is not warping or buckling of the bottom.

Once dry… they’ll be ready for the bisque firing!

Categories: bowls, production

Let’s recap… sunrise bike ride, throw a bag of clay, afternoon bike ride,
throw another bag of clay, stamp, oval, stamp some more, and pizza!!!

Categories: production

Tonight I finished up stamping, trimming & detailing another batch of flower pots.
A bit smaller than the first batch… but still great fun playing with my power drill
for the drainage holes.

Categories: production

Before class tonight, I had just enough time to trim my latest batch of spoon rests.
It was down to the wire, but with about five minutes to spare, I finished the last one
AND made it to class just in time!!!