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

So apparently I’ve somehow become the “poster child” for the Chicago Festival Guide?…
or at least the Ravenswood Art Walk this weekend???

One of my studio friends said she saw me on WTTW… err, what?!

It’s our local PBS station and I had no idea what Annie was talking about. Later that night, she sent me the links to prove that she wasn’t making things up!!! And there I was… a photo of me working in my studio in one of my favorite tie-dyed t-shirts! And I have zero recollection of this?! But, I can tell you that the photo was taken back in 2016 when the Zombie was my new Ghoul for the collection. So I don’t feel too bad about not remembering! HA!!! Thanks for sharing Annie… and for the “eagle-eyes” while watching WTTW.

Categories: production, stamped, studio

So while I’m “off my bike” for the day… and it’s killin’ me… at least I’ve been productive in the studio! Plenty of throwing, trimming & lots of stamping! It’s all good… as long as I don’t look outside! HA!

Categories: clay, process, studio

Kicking-off the weekend with a big pile of reclaimed clay! It’s been “slaking-down” in my reclaim bin for quite awhile now… finally time to pull it out, dry it up a bit, start wedging… and then start working with my new pile of FREE CLAY!!!

Categories: glaze, process, production, studio

After a long day of glazing & wadding yesterday, I finally had my studio cart filled and ready to roll downstairs to the kiln room. As the freight elevator is not the smoothest of rides, I always use some masking tape “safety belts” to keep any stray pots form jumping off the cart during their travels!

Categories: clay, studio

While I was in my studio all day yesterday firing the soda kiln, I had plenty of time to do some “Spring Cleaning”… which included pulling out another batch of reclaimed clay from my orange bin. Piling it up on a large plaster bat to help absorb the extra moisture. It will take a few days until it stiffens up enough to start wedging my new free reclaimed clay!!! My favorite kind of clay… did I mention “FREE”???

Categories: clay, process, studio

After a long & enjoyable holiday break, I figured it was finally time to venture back into the studio to turn out another batch of reclaim clay. It’s been slaking down in my reclaim bin for a little longer than normal… so I actually had to add a little water back in to soften it up a bit… just so I could turn it out to dry it up again!!! HA!!!

Categories: clay, process, studio

Spending a little time this evening crushing up some of my dried reclaim scraps… trying to make them as small as possible so that they slake down faster in my reclaim bin. Sure, it takes a little effort.. but reclaimed clay is the best! Because it’s FREE!!!

Categories: glaze, studio

Reconstituting some glaze that had settled out a little too much in my studio… I mean, it didn’t get used much what with the pandemic and all. So with the help of an immersion blender, some more water & a fine sieve to press the glaze through… I now have this bucket of glaze back in working order!!!

Categories: clay, porcelain, process, studio

After pulling my reclaim out of my orange reclaim bin, it was time to re-fill it with some more clay scraps. I’ve had these bags sitting in the corner of my studio for two months now… ever since my trip to Minnesota for the St. Croix River Valley Pottery Tour. And today was the day to get rid of them!

One of my pottery friends lives up in Minneapolis and for some reason chooses not to reclaim her own clay. Instead she bags it up… and luckily for me, it’s waiting for me to take each year when I’m up there for the pottery tour. Sure, it’s a lot of work… but I think it’s well worth it… FREE PORCELAIN?… I’m in!!!

So I dumped out the clay one bag at a time. And went after it with a rolling pin to break it all down to small pieces which will “dissolve” faster and create a smoother reclaim slurry.

But then I found a few bags that much larger chunks in them… so I had to pull out the big guns… and actually break it up with a hammer… before I could rolling pin it!!!

The finer the clay is pulverized, the smoother my reclaim will be… which kinda equates to less wedging later. So it behooves me to do the work upfront before it goes into the reclaim bin.

So now all of the porcelain scraps have been broken down and put into my bin… covered with water, and stirred up. It will sit in there for two weeks or so until I’m ready to pull out the reconstituted clay to put back on the plaster bat to dry it out. Sure, it’s a good amount of work… but FREE CLAY is FREE CLAY… and FREE PORCELAIN is even better!!

Categories: clay, process, studio

After weeks of slaking down, it was finally a good day to pull out my latest batch of reclaim clay. Lots of scraps, trimmings & dried clay bits all soaked down in my big orange bin… and now setting out on a large plaster bat. The clay will sit on the bat for a few days as it slowly absorbs the water and helps to dry out the clay. When the clay gets stiffer, there’s a LOT of wedging in my future! But I’m in… FREE CLAY is the best clay!!!