Gary Jackson: Fire When Ready Pottery
A Chicago potter’s somewhat slanted view of clay & play
Categories: collaborations, mugs, pottery, soda-fired, special events, stamped

I’ve been working on these pieces for awhile.
And it finally feels GREAT to call them done!

I received a request from a local Chicago customer for a special order last Summer during the shutdown. He owns & runs THE ECCENTRIC CAFE in Kalamazoo, Michigan… a part of Bell’s Brewery. Apparently, the bar has a lot of “visual intrigue”… wonderful collections & things to look at all over the place. In fact, it’s one of the only brewery pubs with NO TELEVISIONS!!!

So the request was that I would make a large “tankard” or stein for his newest collection. I LOVE making mugs… so I was definitely intrigued to tackle them on a much larger scale! He said he was “collecting them” from a few of his favorite potters around the country. So I was HONORED to be chosen to be part of his collection of favorites!!!

The request was that I can make any style, shape or form tankard “in my style”… and they had to hold more than 64-ounces! Knowing that I was going to be soda-firing them, I decided to make a couple extra just in case something goes wrong during the firing… a drip from the ceiling, a splotch of errant soda, or any other random issue that comes up while soda-firing. So here are the three finished pieces seen from both sides. Totally pleased with the finished results… and NO random soda mishaps!!!

Tankard #1 –

Tankard #2 –

Tankard #3 –

As I was making them, I was continually concerned that they wouldn’t be large enough… a minimum of 64-ounces. You know how clay shrinks when it dries… again when it gets bisque fired… and yet again when soda-fired. So I threw them fairly large with the shrinkage in mind… but after each step in the process they kept getting smaller and I kept getting more & more concerned!!! Turns out I was all good… BY FAR!!!… as each of them finished out with a volume of nearly 96-ounces each!!!

When I sent photos of them finished to Larry to choose which one he wanted… I was blown away when he said he loved them and wanted ALL THREE!!! Blown away!!! I was so excited that he loved them so much.

Last night I dropped them off … so nice to complete the commission and pass them off to the client. They will now be on their way to THE ECCENTRIC CAFE in Kalamazoo, Michigan. I can’t wait to see photos of them in “the collection” when they all come together. I know a few of the other potters involved… and it’s sure to be a pretty sweet collection! And then when “things” settle down a bit this summer, I may just need to do a roadtrip to Kalamazoo to see the pottery collection in person!

Categories: Chicago, special events

Sure, we may have a new vaccine beginning, but that doesn’t mean we’re free & clear! Let’s be diligent and beat this thing… please continue to wear your mask, wash your hands, sanitize and keep 6-feet away!!! I know it’s going to be weird with another socially-distant holiday… but let’s get through this together… by getting through it alone!!!

Categories: Chicago, special events

Today is a very big day for Chicago with the first of the coronavirus vaccines being administered. I know we’ve all waited anxiously for this day… but I can’t even imagine what the past year has been like for Dr. Allison Arwady. She has been so instrumental in Chicago’s efforts during this pandemic. So it was great to see her today on TV as the first vaccines were administered. I’m sure we’re all hoping this will get us back to “normal” some time soon.

And I’m also hoping that it will make Allison’s life a bit more “normal”…so she can come back to my pottery class again!!! We haven’t seen her throwing at the wheel ever since this whole thing began. I know the studio has saved my sanity through all of this… I can only imagine how much Allison needs a little “clay therapy” these days!!!

Thank You again for all you’ve done for the City of Chicago Allison!!! We all hope to see you soon… at a pottery wheel and NOT in front of a scary chart or graph!!!

Categories: inspiration, pottery, soda-fired, special events, stamped

A touching epilogue from Melissa
who won the Silent Auction yesterday…

“I’m so glad you’re happy and that your auction was a success! My mom passed away three years ago and I’ve been looking for the perfect place to memorialize her for myself and for my two sisters. Your work showed up in my Instagram feed under the hashtag “cardinal” and here we are. Right place, right time.”

Amazing what a simple hashtag can do. Obviously things were meant to work out the way they did yesterday. Such a fitting tribute – a full circle moment for this entire “Cardinal Commission” project. It has been quite fulfilling & touching at so many moments along the way. Thank you to everyone who has been along on this journey with me.

Categories: animals, art fair, soda-fired, special events, stamped

So we’re currently eleven days into my TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS POTTERY SALE… and here’s a little “teaser” of the special event headed your way tomorrow to celebrate Day Twelve!!! And no, that’s NOT a partridge in a pear tree… but close…

Categories: special events

For those who really know me… you know that I am NOT at all political. Sorry everyone… no need to comment on my “civic duty” and all that jazz. Yet even I know that this election with the endless polls & repeating commentaries are getting a bit ridiculous!…. and yes, I do like to color outside of the lines!

Categories: special events

With all that’s going on these days… it’s hard to imagine that nineteen years ago today we went through another horrific tragedy. I remember that day specifically… watching it play out live on TV… shaken, scared, unsure… knowing that the world would be changed forever. And yet somehow the world came back from 911 altered & changed, working together showing resilience & humanity. Which gives me hope that we will come back from this pandemic as well. Sooner than later please.

Categories: computer, special events

Oh yeah, sure I could have done my taxes during the last three and a half months when we all had “nothing to do” but stay home. I could have also purchased a winning lottery ticket, bought a tropical island and disappeared off into the sunset. Well, THAT didn’t happen either.

So here I am working on my taxes all day… and pretty darn excited to be done and hitting the SEND button in the next few minutes!!! Look at me… still with a couple hours to spare!!! WHOO-HOO!!!

Categories: friends, special events


Caring thoughts are being sent out to our friends in Minneapolis who are struggling with the riots & protests there. This is a view of the Midtown Global Market and the arson fires that surround it. My friend Emily lives right there across the street… this view hit home and made it very scary & very real for me! She has safely evacuated with her little girls, while her husband is still at the home trying his best to keep their home safe from the fires! This is a terrible situation. I can’t stop watching the news as riots like these are now breaking out all around the country! Please stay safe out there!!!

Categories: Dad, family, special events, Taylor

So much fun playing downtown with my Dad & niece Taylor for their first ever 5K race yesterday!!! And a fun Instagram Photo Challenge along the way during the HOT CHOCOLATE RUN!

It was a personal best for my Dad… who logged over 20,000 steps on his FitBit.
Of course I made him walk off the last 50 steps in the parking garage just to make the goal!