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

It was the last day of Wheelthrowing Camp…
and what better way to finish their terra cotta pots than with some decorative splattering?!!! The kids LOVED IT!!!


Categories: classes, mugs, process, stamped, summer camp

It’s the third day for my Summer Campers and today they had to “finish up” their stoneware pots. So we did some trimming, some stamping, some adding of handles and colored slip detailing. Never too soon to start stamping, right???

Categories: pottery, summer camp

It’s my first week of Summer Camp… and my kids are doing AMAZING!!!
It’s only their second day of camp and they’re already cranking out some wonderful pots!!!
So much fun for them... and for me!!!

Categories: artists, classes, summer camp

Hard to believe that we’re already planning and scheduling Summer Camps!!!
Winter is finally ending, and I’m just looking forward to Spring.
But these adorable kids make me even more excited to see Summer get here!

The following is my schedule for teaching Summer Camps at Lillstreet Art Center.
I work with the older group of kids who constantly amaze, inspire and entertain me.
Summer camp is a wonderful experience for the kids and teachers who work together on all of the wonderful art projects… and good for the parents who get a few hours off! You can stop by the Front Desk at Lillstreet Art Center, call them or register online for Summer Camps. Registration is already open and filling fast. Click here for online information & registration.

Week C, June 19th-23rd – Wheelthrowing – 9:00am-1:00pm
Five days of fun where we start at the very beginning with wedging, centering & throwing. Kids will learn all of the basics, practice everyday and finish with glazing on Friday.

Week F, July 10th-14th – Chess Camp – 9:00am-3:30pm
Kids will make their own complete chess set out of clay in just five short days. Thematic sets are encouraged, no ordinary Kings, Queens & Rooks here! Actual chess experience is not mandatory… we’ll all learn a bit more along the way! Check?

Week H, July 24th-28thFire, Forge & Feast  – 9:00am-3:30pm
Admittedly the biggest & most fun camp of the whole Summer!!! But enough about me…
In this camp, the kids get to play with me and my friend Pam who teaches the metalsmithing portions. In the five-day camp, kids will design and create a full dinnerware place setting out of clay and metal. A lot of creative design & brainstorming to come up with their amazing themes. Two days of clay, two days of metals, and a lot of Friday fun finishing place settings and celebrating with a class Potluck Lunch!!!

Week I, July 31st-August 4th – Wheelthrowing  – 9:00am-1:00pm
More mud spinning & flinging as the kids learn how to wheelthrow from beginning to end. From wedging to glazing and every “muddy” step along the way!

Week J, August 7th-11th – Sculptures Big to Small  – 9:00am-3:30pm
In this camp the kids will each build their own sculptures after being inspired during a field trip to the Art Institute of Chicago and Millennium Park. A dash of art history will serve them well as they work on their own large-scale masterpieces!

Week K, August 14th-18th – Handbuilding & Wheelthrowing  – 9:00am-1:00pm
At this point in the summer, many campers have already taken a couple camps. Some of them have already thrown on the wheel, some of them have handbuilt pieces with clay. This week we’re going to do both – working to incorporate all of their skills into their pieces.

Week L, August 21st-25th – Wheelthrowing - 9:00am-1:00pm
My last week of Summer Camp will be another fun week of wheelthrowing. Spinning, centering, wedging and laughing… maybe an occasional joke along the way?! A great way to end my summer camp “tour of duty.”

If you’re interested in sending your kids to Summer Camp at Lillstreet, click here for their website. And then sign the kids up fast…. spaces are filling quickly!!!

It’s a “shame” that kid’s don’t like playing with clay?!!! Ha!!!






Categories: summer camp

Sure, teaching weeks of Summer Camp can be rough.
A different group of kids every week. Different ages. Different backgrounds. Different skill sets.
It’s definitely not a job for everyone… but I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again…

So much fun week after week. And the rough times are quickly washed away when your campers are finishing their projects and they drop off a precious little gem like this one! Suddenly my favorite Camper ever!!!… well, at least for that week!

Categories: summer camp

My Summer Camp “Tour of Duty” has officially come to an end. Tomorrow I get back to reality. Special thanks to my camp assistants last week for making my last week of camp so much fun! Sonali & Bella started out as my summer campers years ago… and are now off to college!!! Sure, a hot fudge sundae at Margie’s made it pretty sweet too! And yes, that is TWO things of hot fudge.. don’t judge… our afternoon camp was a rough one!!!

Categories: clay, summer camp, terra cotta

Every Thursday during a typical Wheelthrowing Camp is Terra Cotta Day!
I try to tell them in advance that it’s going to be messy. A lot messier than stoneware.
Generally they scoff at it. And think that I’m exaggerating. And then THIS happens…

Gooey-gloppy messy hands… and arguably the dirtiest wheel EVER!!!
Good thing we have Rule #3… “Whatever mess you make, YOU will be cleaning up.”
And she did.

Categories: summer camp

Sculpture Summer Camp is quickly coming to an end. The kids are working fast & furious to get all of their sculptures finished. The sculpting & building of their sculpture sis don… now they’re onto detailing & painting. Which is when the sculptures really come to life!

Soon enough, their sculptures were finished… painted, detailed, done.
Then they were quick off to the tables with fans blowing on them.
Got to get the paint dry before their parents come to pick them up at 3:30pm.

And if that weren’t enough… Ellie and I decided that her pompous penguin needed a fancy floor to stand on. So we broke up some glass tiles so she could mosaic the floor. Especially fun since the files were donated by one of my adult pottery students. The store where she works for was looking for someone who could “reuse” these tiles somehow instead of throwing them away… and this was the first of many projects to come! Thanks Meredith for the donation… I thank you, Ellie thanks you… and the Penguin thanks you!!!

So here are a few “finished” sculptures by my talented Summer Campers this week.

NOAH’s Ganesh Shrine

ELLIE’s penguin complete with top hat, monocle and mosaic tiled floor.

RACHEL’s frozen blue ice dragon.

SAM’s aviary tree with five birds a flocking.

JAMES’ trio of Olympic winning birds

MARYMAYA’s howling timber wolf.

SAMUEL’S version of a Giacometti sculpture.

AVA’s version of the Chicago Picasso sculpture.

Another great week with my Summer Campers!!!







Categories: summer camp

So my campers are back at Lillstreet building on the inspirations from yesterday’s Art Institute Field Trip. They’re now each building their own large sculpture starting with wooden bases, wire armatures and a LOT of newspaper & tape!!!

And thanks to my teaching assistant Julia who gets to watch as Ellie’s penguin comes together.

When the bases were complete, we started covering them with plaster gauze.

Categories: Chicago, summer camp

The theme of this week’s Summer Camp is “Sculptures Small to Big.”
So what better place to get some inspiration than the Art Institute of Chicago?!
My campers went on a fun field trip for a splash of art inspiration & education
at the museum and Millennium Park. Starting with some visual fun at The Bean…

“Cloudgate” by Anish Kapoor.

Then it was time to go to the Art Institute of Chicago. Filled with inspiration for the kids.

We toured the museum and made frequent stops for the kids to sketch.

Brancusi sculptures.

Giacometti sculptures.

Dubuffet maquette sculpture.

Picasso maquette sculpture.

Chagall stained glass windows.

Calder maquette sculpture.

Jackson Pollock paintings.

Katharina Fritsch sculpture.

And everyone’s favorite… Roy Lichtenstein. Ohhh alright… enough already!