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

Tonight was the final class for my “Simply Soda” students. Ten weeks of classes and soda-firing fun with mixed results. They’ve enjoyed the challenge and learned a lot about the variables of soda-firing. To finish off our final class, we had a fun potluck feast along with our “Plant & Planter Trading-Exchange Game.” So each student brought in some food… and the planter they made during class with a plant they chose to coordinate with their flower pot.

So here are the plant participants in our fun little trading-exchanging-stealing game!

A beautiful orchid & flower pot by Stacey…

A charming small duo of an African violet & succulent twosome by Taylore…

A ponytail palm and ridged planter by Katie…

Some “unknown plant” in a beautiful flower pot by Jackie…

A round disc succulent and soda-fired flower pot by Ed…

A recently pruned, and soon to bloom? plant in a flower pot by Cecelia…

A sleek wall vase with a miniature mum plant inside by Emily…

A small orchid in a water-erosion-relief pattern flower pot by Patty…

And my stamped & soda-fired planter with beautiful variegated low-light plant…

And then Ryan, Taylore’s better-half, didn’t want to be left out of the fun. So even though he’s not really part of this class (he’s actually in my Tuesday night class), he decided to bring his own “plants” to trade in the game. So he worked up a batch of “dirt” for the potluck! Yummy gummy worms in chocolate pudding and chocolate cookie crumbled “dirt.”







Categories: classes, garden, soda-fired, stamped

Tomorrow night my “Simply Soda” class is wrapping up and we’ve got a little challenge going on! For our final class this session, we decided to do a “White Elephant” trading swapping game for handmade planters. So the plan is that each student had to make a soda-fired planter during this session, bring it to the last class and trade it for another one. It was my students who went one step further and decided we should add a plant our planters BEFORE the trade!!! So I just planted mine for tomorrow’s class…


Categories: collaborations, stamped, textures

So I’ve been working hard trying to build my portion of the collaboration project I’m doing with Cory McCrory. Lots of assembling, lots of stamping, lots of drilling. It’s been a fun project, and it’s all finally coming together on my end. And I’m pretty sure Cory’s are coming along nicely too. I can’t wait to put everything together when we get to Glenview this weekend for ART IN THE GARDEN.



Categories: mugs, soda-fired, stamped, textures

So I’ve gotten a few of my textured slab mugs out of the soda kiln.
They’re looking pretty sweet. Loving the all-around textures… and how the colored flashing slips are being highlighted on the high points of the textures.

These new “handbuilt-wheelthrown combo mugs” will be making their Grand Debut
at ART IN THE GARDEN this coming weekend!!! There will be a fairly limited quantity…
be sure to stop by to get your hands on one of these new mugs!!!




Categories: collaborations, stamped, textures

Getting even closer on my “Cory-Collaboration” pieces. Adding some colored flashing slips for a pop of color after soda-firing. I know Cory is working on hers too… can’t wait to put everything together next weekend at ART IN THE GARDEN.

Categories: flowers, nature, soda-fired, stamped, vases

Bringing a bit of nature’s beauty indoors. White hydrangeas in a stamped & soda-fired vase.


Categories: collaborations, stamped, textures

Let the collaborations continue! Looks like a lot of small trays are being made… some by my friend & collaborator Cory McCrory, and some by me. Lots of textures all around. Coming soon to ART IN THE GARDEN next weekend!!!

Categories: mugs, soda-fired, stamped

Food-safe, dishwasher-safe… just not gravity-safe! A nearly vintage mug from my earlier days when I was a bit more timid about stamping. After years & years of use, Julie’s mug finally took a tumble… and took a “classic” out of the cupboard… and out of circulation!

Categories: flowers, soda-fired, stamped

You know how I love seeing my pottery being used in people’s daily lives. So it was a great surprise to get these photos of George & Joan’s orchid collection… all looking very happy in their stamped & soda-fired flower pots! Thanks for sharing!



Categories: mugs, stamped, textures

So I’ve been playing with a new a new method making a handbuilt lab mug. I’ve made many slab cups before with my Summer Campers, but there were always a few “issues’ I needed to resolve. I’ve never like the flat slab bottom. Nor the untrimmed & unfinished bottom. I also don’t like the “non-round-ness” that a slab cup frequently has. Nor the sharp, freshly cut rim they typically have. So I decided to combine some textured slab handbuilding skills with some wheelthrowing!!! The best of both worlds, right?!

So I start by throwing some simple “thick” discs on a bat. I keep them centered and do not wire them off the bat quite yet.

While those set-up, I throw out some slabs on my wedging table. I then use my stamps, some rollers I’ve made, and some great texture rollers from MKM Pottery Tools. After texturing the slab, I cut one of the long edges straight with a ruler.

Then I put the bat with the thrown clay disc “bottom” back on the wheel. I use my needle tool to cut it down tho the bottom diameter that I want my cup to be.

Back at the slab, I do some quick scoring along the straight-cut edge.

Then I take the slab with that scored edge and carefully wrap it around the base that has also been scored & slipped on the outer perimeter edge.

Cut off the excess clay while just a little overlap. Carefully press your edges together to create a nice seam. I like to cut each edge on a beveled angle so that there is more surface area to scratch & attach for a good secure seam.

After attaching the slab and closing the seam, you can use the needle tool to cut off the excess on top… determining how tall you want your textured slab cylinder to be. You can also “bulge out” the belly of the cup a bit by pressing outwards from inside while spinning… just don’t touch the outside or you’ll blur the textures.

Finish the rim by compressing the edges and making sure it is nice a round. This is a good chance to make sure the cup is nice and round, as well as smoothing out that freshly-cut slab edge. Remember, someone is going to be drinking out of this!

And a little wet chamois to help smooth out the rim… a little wheelthrowing trick!
And thus refining one of my “issues” with handbuilt cups.

Here are a few different designs of my assembled slab-wheel combo cylinders from a few class demos. Still on the bats, ready to be wired off.

After they’ve stiffened up, usually overnight under loose plastic, I carefully flip them over and begin to trim a nice footring onto the bottom. This is a great chance to give the cup a well-designed foot helping force the “illusion” that it may have been thrown on the wheel instead of handbuilt.¬† After trimming, I make sire to burnish all of my trimmed surfaces to smooth them out, and sign the cup when I’m done.

SIDE NOTE : Have I mentioned lately how much I LOVE my Giffin Grip?!!!
Possibly the best and most useful pottery tool ever… at least in my studio.
Besides my wheel.

And voila’… another one of my “issues” with handbuilt cylinders resolved. A nice footring.

Then I add handles with the same traditional method I use for adding handles to my regular wheelthrown mugs. Little nuggets of wedged clay pulled with a bit of water and a lot of friction!

After they’ve set-up overnight under plastic, I wax the bottoms of the mugs.
Why you may ask?… because I’m going to be dipping them in slip, and I don’t want slip on the bottom of my cups… maybe it’s just me.

After the wax has dried, I dip the exterior of the pot into a thin flashing slip.
Not only does it give a nice layer of color that will flash & “pop” in the soda-kiln,
but it also sort of cleans up and smooths out some of the seams & edges.
And with the wax… no slip on the bottom of my cups!

So for now they’re “done” while I wait for them to dry…
and then be bisque-fired and eventually soda-fired.