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

Got some plain cylinders that can’t stay like that way for long.
Time to do a little stamping!!!

Categories: process, production, stamped, stamps, vases

Spent the afternoon in the studio doing some stamping & slip decorating. Thankful that these vases didn’t dry out too much while I was off racing yesterday!

Categories: stamps, studio, tools

So many stamps. So many patterns. So many possibilities.
And just for the record, I have over six tool boxes just like this one
full of my handmade stamps!!!

Categories: mugs, patterns, porcelain, process, production, stamped, stamps

So I spent the evening doing a bit of stamping. I had a few cylinders that were on the wetter-side of leatherhard… perfect for stamping! So here’s a quick tour of the cylinder before & after AND the stamps that did the magic!!! Some are stoneware reclaim, and others are porcelain. Now all stamped, patterned & textured!!!

Next up?….
A bit more drying under plastic, then trimming… and then HANDLES!!!



Categories: bowls, process, production, stamped, stamps

The bowls from last Tuesday night’s class have been sitting in my studio under plastic for a few days. Last night I finally got around to doing some stamping & detailing. I would love to continue this demo with my students in class, but I’m always afraid that they will dry too far if I were to wait until next Tuesday. So hopefully, they will see how their class demo bowls have progressed here on the blog… just like the rest of you!

Flanged Bowls with a border of stamps.

Flared & Fluted Bowl with a border of stamps.

Wide Flange Bowl with a border of stamps.


Split Rim with pinches… with little balls of clay attached at the pinch-points with a small stamp.

Two-Fluted Bowl… I thought it would be fun to stamp just one side of the bowl.

Dragonscale Flower… so I used the same dragon scale tool to decorate the rim.

Split Rim, Pinched & Rounded Bowl – I added small balls of clay at the pinch points, and then textured just the inner rim of the split using a pointed wooden tool.

Lotus-fluted Split Rim – the previous textured split rim was nice, so I did it again!

Slip Spiral Bowl with a stamped rim.

Ombre Slip Bowl with a simple textured rim.

Banded Slip Bowl with a simple textured rim.

Slip Chattered Bowl with a textured rim from a rounded wooden tool.

And now that all of the demo bowls have been stamped & detailed, they are back under some plastic hoping to be trimmed tomorrow,

Categories: classes, mugs, process, stamped, stamps, workshop

A fun day today in the northern suburb of Vernon Hills. I was one of the workshop presenters at the NSC Art Fest. High school students from the northern suburbs all came to Vernon Hills High School for a full day of art, presentations, workshops and inspiration.

I even had my own room…

The focus of the workshops were for the high school art students to learn, participate, make something and go home with whatever they made. So I came in a few hours early to throw some quick cylinders for them to use later in the day.

I let the cylinders set out so they could stiffen up a bit before the students got there. They even spent some time in the breeze by the open door to help speed up the process.

A few minutes before they came in, I smoothed out the bottom edges since they were still far to wet for trimming… but at a good moisture level for stamping. When the kids first came in, we did some quick introductions around the table, followed by my PowerPoint presentation. All about me. My life, My history. My process, My views on life and success.

After the presentation, we sat around the table for awhile and made some stamps. They rolled their coils and carved some patterns. They finally started opening up and talking. I must admit they were a lot more quiet than I expected High School kids to be. It wasn’t until I realized they were each from a different school that it dawned on me. So we did a little “ice-breaking” to warm them up a bit. Okay, so maybe I even had to pull out some of my old go-to jokes. Maybe. Allegedly.

Once their stamps were done, we moved to the other work table where they each got one of the cylinders I had thrown earlier in the day. I has also brought a whole tray of my own stamps for them to use. So after a little demo, they each set-off on stamping their cylinders. As they completed their stamped designs, we then added handles to them so each student would have a finished mug!

“Look Ma… I made a mug today. Whoo-hoo!!!”

My two workshop assistants were great. They were there to help me get settled in… but when they were done, they thought they were free to go. Free to hang out. I of course had other plans… and put them to work. First they got to throw their first pots on the wheel. Very fun. And then later in the workshop when they thought they could just stand around and take pictures… I of course had other plans. So I handed each of them a cylinder and made them start stamping as well. Thanks for playing girls.

And it wasn’t just my assistants… I also had to put Stephanie, one of the VHHS art teachers to work as well. She’s been to my studio in Chicago before… but this was the first time she had the chance to use my stamps to make her own masterpiece!!!

Looks like she was having a good time!!!

Once they were stamped and we had added handles, it was time for a little more detailing with colored slip. The kids had fun accentuating their stamped mugs with some spots of color.

At the end of the workshop, we put the finished mugs outside so they could dry up a little quicker. Not my normal practice, but we had to get them ready to go home right away. The slip had to dry quickly so the kids could carry their mugs home.

Special thanks to my friend Allison who helped set up this entire Arts Festival… and hooked me up as one of the workshop presenters. I had a wonderful time working with some great kids. Hopefully they had some fun making mugs today! They looked great.

Categories: classes, lillstreet, process, production, stamps

Sure, their beginner mugs were a little too smooth & undecorated for my liking. Sweet, but plain. They could surely use some texture… if only they had some stamps to decorate with??? Oh wait… we made those too! It was a very busy night!!!

Categories: mugs, process, production, stamped, stamps

Tonight started with some plains cylinders… round, smooth & clean…
Destined to be another batch of mugs. More of my favorite form!

And then I pulled out one of my tool boxes of stamps… each one handmade…

A little stamping ensued… and soon enough all of them were textured & stamped.
Back under the plastic wrap drying up a bit more for trimming tomorrow night.

Categories: stamps, studio

Every year it seems like I have¬† “slow start” in the studio. Tough getting back into the swing of things. Tough “messing up” my beautifully clean holiday studio. But I’ve finished reclaiming clay… I’ve put away the holiday decorations… I’ve watered the plants… I’ve procrastinated enough. So tonight I finally kicked it into gear. And what better place to start than with some new stamps for the New Year?!

So I started to make stamps the way I always do. Made a few… but then decided I should mix it up a bit. So I looked around and found this really great wooden stamp that I picked up at NCECA last spring. I haven’t used it much… and it has been sitting on the shelf for quite awhile. So why not put it to use?!

So I took a small coil of clay and squished it into a portion of the Celtic design. Pressing in, squishing around and gently pulling the clay back out. Suddenly finding that the “reverse” pattern is pretty intriguing.

And if one worked well, why not make more?!…

And then I looked around and found a few more pieces to play with. Some laser-cut pieces of wood that I had not even pulled out of the packaging yet. I bought them, but haven’t really figured out how to use them. Here we go…

And then after a little more detailing… I think I might have a great stamp?!

So again… I kept making more. My thought is always that you should make a LOT of stamps… and along the way you’ll stumble on a few that you really love!!!

So by the end of the night, I have a few double-ended stamps drying for the night. These will dry and be bisqued before I can start using them.

Categories: bowls, classes, process, production, stamped, stamps

Last Tuesday was my class demo on how to make a basic bowl on purpose. Followed by showing my students some quick tricks & techniques to make each bowl unique. And that not every bowl needs to be precious. That they should play with their clay and try some new things. If it messes up, you just cut it off, re-wedge it and throw it again. It’s just clay!

For the demo I used a full bag of clay and made seventeen bowls. The bowls all came up to my studio where today I did a little more “detailing” with some stamping. I would have loved to save this part for my students too, but I was afraid they would all be too dry in a week’s time. So here the the photos of some of the bowls, freshly detailed… AND the stamps that did all of the hard work making a good impression.