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

Spent the evening in the studio doing some more trimming with my new DiamondCore Tools! Their new trimming tools are pretty sweet… nice & sharp as you would expect, a comfortable wooden handle, and a bonus “carved shape” on the end of each one! Looks like they’ve just found their “new home” in my studio. Gotta LOVE some good pegboard!!!

Categories: clay, process, studio

So I spent part of the night “processing” my clay… taking bags of kinda-wet reclaim, kinda-dry stoneware, and some random scraps of clay left over in a few bags sitting around my studio. It’s always nice to work them all together to make a “new” clay that is all evenly blended… and to get rid of a bunch of random clay bags lying around my studio!

Instead of wedging them all together, I like to alternate thinly sliced layers of each clay. Then I take the stack and cut it in half vertically… stacking one half on top of the other half. A little slam on the table, and then I repeat the slicing, stacking & slamming. Time after time. Eventually the clay layers thin out enough that the clay appears to be blended.

You can see that every time you slice and stack, the layers are getting thinner & thinner…

Sure, it still needs a little bit of wedging… but this is so much easier than wedging all of the clays together from the start!

Categories: handbuilding, process, production, studio

Making leaves & adding heads… and loving the damp box!
Keeping everything in one place and at the right wetness to keep working with things!

Categories: process, production, studio, television

Still under wraps… procrastinating as usual these days… but gotta focus and get these moving along! Using some photo references to formulate my plan. This project is gonna be “for the birds.”

And no… this is NOT an episode of “Portlandia.”

Categories: bowls, mugs, porcelain, pottery, process, production, stamped, studio

So I finally got “focused” tonight in the studio and started waxing the bottoms of a bunch of pots. I was kinda surprised… there were a lot more than I remembered making?! But they all look like mine…. so… I’ll keep waxing in preparation for a couple LONG glazing sessions to come!

Categories: family, process, production, studio

So then THIS happened!!!
I was in the middle of a ZOOM chat with my sister & niece Taylor. They were waiting forever in line waiting for carry-out food while brainstorming for Taylor’s homework assignment. I was doing some trimming and then moved on to adding a pedestal to the bottom. I had even turned the camera around so that they could watch. A little pottery demo for them while they waited!

So I had explained trimming, scored & slipped & added a lump of clay to the bottom and was throwing a pedestal foot on the bottom. We even talked about my Giffin Grip and how well it held everything in place. We were chatting. Talking… and I couldn’t find my small red rib to smooth it out?! So I stood up to reach across my table to grab a new rib from the tool wall. You can see it coming, right?…

Well, the wheel was still spinning. I stood up. My shorts got caught on the wet & sticky freshly-thrown pedestal, stuck on and spun around a few times… effectively yanking the whole piece right out of the Giffin Grip… hurling it to the floor!!! With Jen & Taylor still on the ZOOM!!! ugh.

Luckily, the piece is part of a commission and I had made an extra one!!! But I didn’t feel quite safe “giving up” on the extra one so soon in the process… so I threw another one just in case. Just gotta stamp it, trim it, add a pedestal… and hope that the original lid might possibly still fit?!!! Fingers crossed… and another great ZOOM story!!! Eventually I’ll figure it out…

Categories: process, production, studio, tools

Another night of trimming. Spinning fast in the studio. Enjoying my new trimming tools from DiamondCore Tools. Nice & sharp, making wonderful ribbons just peel right off!

Categories: kiln firing, studio

Always a good sign to see…
four little letters that make me VERY happy!!

Categories: kiln firing, pottery, process, production, studio

Just like something out of “The Wizard Of Oz”…
a bucket of water takes down the Wicked Witch of the West!!!
Well, it didn’t take a bucket… and there wasn’t a witch…
but there was a lot of MELTING!!!

So when I was loading my bisque kiln, I was loading boards full of pieces into the kiln. Many of the boards had been stored in the kiln room for a couple weeks… to dry out… as well as to get them out of my small studio space! Some of them have been there for a couple days… some for a couple weeks.

To my surprise… when I took down a board of twelve mugs from the top shelf… and found that “something” had happened to a few of them. They looked weird, and it took some time for me to process what had occured.

Apparently, there was some sort of water dripping down onto them over time. That’s the best solution I’ve come up with. There’s a electrical pipe running along the ceiling about an inch from the corner. Which I think would lineup with the drip marks on the mugs. Yes… if you look closely… I believe this is “erosion” from repeated water drips falling on them!

It had to be happening for awhile… as you can also see drips on the wall! And the amount of “melting” is kinda crazy… I think this must have been going on for quite some time! And since it was on the top shelf and out of eye-sight… who knew?!

You can actually see where there’s an actual hole all the way RIGHT THRU the bottom of the mug!!!… drip… drip… drip… kinda like Chinese Water Torture during the War!!!

Luckily, the mugs can just be broken up and reclaimed again… IT’S JUST CLAY, right?! And I’ve learned a valuable lesson… no more greenware storage on the top shelf… at least not pushed all the way back… until we find out why water might be dripping from an electrical pipe?! Now THAT doesn’t sound good either, right?!

Categories: bowls, process, production, studio, tools

So I’ve often said the best thing in the pottery studio is POWER TOOLS!
Especially when “drilling” lots of drainage holes into the bottoms of a bunch of berry bowls?!
So why not use a POWER DRILL to drill the holes?!

So I’ve already trimmed the bowls, and let them stiffen up to the “drier-side” of leatherhard. Not squishy. Not tacky. But definitely NOT bone dry yet. And then I start by making the first ring of holes just inside the footring… and then continue on the outside of the footring, between… staggered… lined-up… all different patterns!

And then I let them sit out a bit longer so the drilled “burrs” will brush off easily. Once the shredded debris stiffens up, I use a stiff paint brush to wipe all of those extra pieces off both inside & out! It’s always fun to see the drilled pattern after cleaning out the debris!

Now that they’re drilled full of drainage holes, I’ll let them dry to bone dry. And then I’ll take a green scrubby 3M pad to smooth out some of the rough edges before bisque firing.

Next up?… throwing a bunch of small plates to work as the drainage catch plate!