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

Frozen moments on my porch. Plenty of ice & snow… considering it’s “protected” by the roof. So no huge snow accumulation here… but everywhere else we got PLENTY!!! I think it might be time to venture out with my shovel again…

Categories: artists, creativity, sculpture

And I know I said I was “done” with the Bernie memes!
But then THIS happened… and I just couldn’t resist!

Apparently there’s a snow sculptor named Jef Schobert
up in Stevens Point, Wisconsin isn’t done with him either!!!
Bring it on BRRR-nie!!!

Categories: Chicago, sculpture

Further down the lake front bike trail, south of the City, the “crowd” thins out and you get to see some great art along the way! Like this installation piece honoring Bessie Coleman… an early American civil aviator. She was the first African-American woman to hold a pilot license.

Categories: architecture, Chicago, sculpture

Closed, but not forgotten… Chicago’s Navy Pier may be closed due to the pandemic and a huge lack of tourism in Chicago. It’s completely locked down so you can’t even go down The Pier. But you can still enjoy the gardens & views out front… especially by bike!

Categories: sculpture

It’s amazing the things you find when you’re out exploring with no plan. Somewhere along the way, my Friday bike ride took me further south of the Museum… where I ran across this amazing art installation. Large silver concave curved pieces planted in the ground. The sun gleaming & shadows bouncing were mesmerizing!

Categories: Chicago, sculpture

Last Friday’s “bike escape” was south along the lakefront trail… and then a quick little side diversion to the Museum of Science & Industry. It was so quiet down there… barely another person around the museum. Made these stoic statues seem oddly appropriate.

Categories: animals, lillstreet, sculpture, summer camp

After finishing their Robert Indiana inspired letter sculptures… and sending them off to the kiln!… my Summer Campers re-focused to start their new larger sculptures! We discussed options & ideas with a little bit of brainstorming. Then we covered how were going to build them… discussing process, materials and options. We all worked together to finalize our plans, and the kids drew pictures of their sculptures.

We then started building the basic structure & inner armatures for their sculptures. I helped them with the structure and power tools… but it was their creativity & inspiration that led the way. After building their armatures, they set-off on filling them in & bulking them out with lots of newspaper & masking tape. Their challenge was make it look as much like their “intended” sculpture with minimal supplies. A lot of crumpling, folding & taping in place.

After filling the armatures, we started covering the newspaper with a thin layer of plaster gauze. Think “industrial-strength” paper mache! It’s the same stuff they make plaster casts out of at the hospitals. A bit of water, several sheets of plaster gauze… and they were able to add an outer layer to their sculptures.

After a full day of working with plaster gauze, we were ready to clean-up for the day! Yes… back to Gary’s Summer Camp Rule #3... “Whatever mess you make, you WILL be cleaning up!” So they did… on their hands & knees scrubbing the floor to get the plaster dust & splatters off the floor before it dried too much.

The next day, we came back to the plaster gauze… this time adding details, patterns & textures. The goal was to make them as “realistic” as they could… and easily identifiable for what their plan was. The perfect chance to bring their sculpture to life!

After building the sculptures and getting them to dry overnight, we started painting them with acrylic paints. So much fun to see them really come to life in technicolor!!! And a little bit of color-theory… as they only go primary colors to work with. They needed to mix & blend their own special colors!

On Friday, while the paint dried on their sculptures, we pulled together a quick Gallery Show Opening Reception. I had them make a large poster for the door to our classroom, as well as small “art gallery tags” to put next to their artworks. Basically just a show for their parents as they came to pick-up their kids. Tough to do while keeping the quantity of people in our classroom down to a small number. But we did it… and the kids LOVED showing off their work in their ART GALLARY (sp)!!!

So here are most of the final sculptures in our ART GALLARY (sp)…

AVERY – Desert Cactus Flower

CICI – Red Fox

FELIX – Koala Bear

ORI – Quilted Bed

TALI – Magical Pegasus

JANE – Colorful Peacock

Another great week… kicking off what will hopefully be a great Summer at Lillstreet. This whole panademic crisis has been so weird for all of us… it just felt AMAZING to be back teaching the kids in-person. Hoping that the whole summer goes by without incident at Lillstreet. I think this week went smoothly… and we all learned a LOT about how to teach a class of kids during these times of Covid-19.


Categories: artists, handbuilding, sculpture, summer camp

So we started with a little “art introduction” of sculptor Robert Indiana and his works. We discussed his style, design & concept…. and they all got excited to build their first sculpture based on his work. So the challenge for each of them was to build a large version of this sculpture using their own names!!! A LOT of handbuilding… but I was confident they could do it!!!

The campers started by drawing out the letters for their names. I encouraged them to have some sort of style & design… like maybe adding serifs to the letters?! Then the kids started making their slabs and cutting out their large letters. To make them a 3-dimensional letter, they needed to cut-out two of every letter to make the front & back.

Some of them were so pleased with their letters… and even the canvas covered boards that they worked on. Making an overlapped letter outline masterpiece!!!

After a quick demo on how to assemble their letters, they all set off for a LOT of scoring & slipping! I kept telling them that I can “pretty much guarantee” that of they don’t score & slip… their piece will fall apart! So they were all very diligent with their assembly!

At the end of Day One, I made sure that my campers did a full cleaning of their workspaces. Each kid with their own dedicated space to be safely distant from the other campers. And as part of Rule #3… whatever mess they make, THEY will be cleaning up… and that includes the FLOOR!!!

After stacking & assembling their name letter sculptures, the kids started painting them with glaze. It’s a special glaze that we use for some of our Summer Camp projects. They can paint it on “raw” terra cotta for a single firing. The colors will be darker & shiny when they come out of the kiln!

FAST FORWARD TO FRIDAY : The Last Day of Sculpture Camp
And also the day that the kid’s sculptures came out of the kiln. Always exciting when there are no “explosions” or severe breakage during the firings. Sure, we may have lost a couple feet off the bottoms… but everything still stood up well. And maybe next time they’ll remember to score & slip a little better?!

NEXT UP : My Summer Campers had to shift gears to start another sculpture for the rest of their week. This time, much larger and made with plaster gauze!!!

Categories: bike, Chicago, sculpture, sunrise

It was also perfect timing to find the Gold Star Families Memorial sculpture all lit up with sunrise reflections. Just south of the Museum Campus, between the harbor and Soldier Field… a fun moment as you pedal up the hill to be greeted by this sunrise surprise!

Categories: artists, lillstreet, sculpture, summer camp

As part of my Sculpture Summer Camp, I like to teach the kids some art history along the way… this time focused on famous sculptors! I made a set of flash cards for some famous sculptures – many of which are in Chicago that the kids might have seen. I also tried to show them at least two pieces by each artist so they weren’t just memorizing one photo… but trying to get them to learn about their style, subject matter and time period. And just to keep them on their toes… there are a few duplicates along the way!

The trick to using flash cards is to make it a game… so at some point, they’re so excited to play a game that they don’t even realize they’re learning stuff at the same time! By the end of the week, most of the kids have memorized all of the following artists… first and last name!!!

Like this game on Friday where I turned it into the classic game of “MEMORY” where they had to match up the cards – finding two cards by the same artist. Keeping safe social distances with a LOT of hand sanitizer along the way!

Not the sculpture name, but the actual artist… first & last name!

I must admit I had to Google a few of them myself.
I mean… do you know who made the Venus de Milo???
… and his name is NOT Milo!!!