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

Last night was a fun night with my sister Jen, brother-in-law Scott and niece Taylor.
It was Taylor’s VERY FIRST CONCERT!!! So exciting for her… and fun for me to see!
The concert was at the Gennessee Theater in Waukegan. Beautiful little theater… not so good with the kerning on their marquee!!!

For those who may not know of them, Straight No Chaser is a fun accapella group singing a wide range of songs. Many of which I had to try REALLY hard not to sing outloud with. Tried… not always successful…

Click here for the song that made them “famous”… “The Twelve Days Of Christmas.”
Click here for their hysterical “Broadway Medley.”
Click here for their version of “It’s All About The Bass.”
Click here for their “Lady Gaga Medley.”
Click here for their version of “Sittin’ On The Dock & Proud Mary.”

Here’s a shot of the audience the group took from onstage. Their idea was that they would post it on their Facebook page, and then you “Tag” yourself on your page to spread the word… and with that, this is their marketing plan!!! I love that they’re using Social Media as their plan. A grassroots plan… spread the word. They were also the very first concert that I’ve had tell the audience at the very beginning that they WANTED you to take pictures & videos during the show!!! More videos.. more photos… more “free marketing” for them!!!

And if you look close, there we are… third from the left, second from the back, behind the tall guy, next to the big woman singing with her hands up, beside the lady in red, around the corner from the family of four… behind a COUPLE THOUSAND other concert goers!!! So?… do you see us?!!! Ha.

Categories: Mom & Dad, Taylor

I know it’s been awhile, and I’m glad she’s a patient girl…
But I “finally” got around to glazing the cute little pots my niece Taylor made during her latest visit to my studio. She finally got to work on the wheel and make a couple pots of her own. My Dad got to make a couple as well… and the center blue bowl was my demo. But here are the results :Taylor’s finished pots… finally… and her well-made & thought-out instruction sheet of what colors she wanted for each.

Categories: holiday, Taylor

After a fun morning at Step Class, and then a not-so-fun afternoon memorial wake,
I got to spend some fun Valentine’s time with my niece Taylor!!!

We went to lunch after the wake to the Cheesecake Factory… my favorite!
I gave Taylor a couple heart cookies…

And she gave me a handmade Valentine Card… and a LOT OF LAUGHS!!!
We had a great time at lunch with her Mom & Dad (my sister). Maybe a little too much sugar was involved.. or at least a silly iPhone app or two!!!

Categories: family, pottery, Taylor

Today was a fun day at the studio. After a hectic holiday, it was great to get back in the mud again. And today, my parents brought my niece Taylor into the City for a day at the studio. She’s been there a few times before, but this was her first day working on the wheel. I gave her the choice… hand-building or wheel-throwing?! Never afraid to get dirty… she chose to spin fast with wet sloppy clay.

We started out with the basics. A demo of wedging, followed by a step-by-step tutorial on the wheel. With quite a few mentions of how “frustrating” this is going to be. And that my adults take a 10-week class to learn, and she’s got just a few hours. My Mom bowed out of the fun, but Taylor and my Dad stepped up & hopped onto their wheels.

As always, centering is the hardest part to learn. Both were struggling. See?… not so easy.
I was just happy that they were both keeping at it… and Taylor was still smiling!
Already wearing clay in all the cutest places!!!

More centering. More throwing. More goofing up. More splattering.
More wedging. More centering. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

A few hours later, Taylor was still focused. Eyes on the prize.
She wouldn’t give up… as my Dad was quickly reaching the end of his adventure.

Still smiling… and still making some sweet pots.

At the end of the day, they both had the “fun” of cleaning up their workspace. They cleaned their wheels, tools, buckets, splash pans AND the wedging tables too!!! It’s all part of the process, right???

And I was left with a couple ware boards of pieces to finish up for them…
and a sheet of instructions as to how she wants her pieces glazed!!!

Another great day at the studio… and hopefully another great memory for Taylor!!!

Categories: Chicago, family, friends, holiday, Taylor

After a couple weeks of making holiday magic at Navy Pier, Winter WonderFest opened tonight for invited guests. It’s a beautiful, indoor holiday “escape” form the elements with festive fun for kids of all ages.

My sister Jen brought my niece Taylor down for the Opening Party, as well as my friend Kristin who brought her two kids AJ & Lizzie. It was fun to show off our holiday designs and play with the kids. The rides were all open and we had a great time. Taylor started out slow… a little overwhelmed by all of the people, lights and sparkle. But once we got her on the classic Tilt-A-Whirl, she was in!!! Wanting to do nothing more than the Tilt-A-Whirl over & over again. Her Mom went once… dizzy… queasy… and that was MORE than enough for her!

On a following Mom-free trip to the Tilt-A-Whirl, Taylor went no-ands!!!

So I of course thought it would be great to catch the laughter, crying & excitement in a video in my iPhone. So I clicked on the phone app, set it to Video and shot away… Not realizing until after the ride that with all of the bouncing & spinning, it must have slipped over to Panorama. And this is what I got… spliced up, but still pretty funny!!!

At one point, AJ decided that he wanted to go on Zero Gravity. A large spinning, tilting, stand-up, stick-to-the-wall kind of ride. His mom Kristin said “no way” for her… but that didn’t stop AJ and I from going on it together. He looked a little trepidatious at first, but loved it once he had made a few revolutions!

After a few rounds on the Tilt-A-Whirl,¬† Jen & Taylor slowed it down (for Mom’s dizzy benefit) on the Ferris Wheel.

AJ on the other hand wanted to go rock climbing instead of the Ferris Wheel. So while “the girls” were riding the wheel, AJ went rock climbing and made it pretty close to the top!

All three kids had a great time… that is until the party ended, and the fun came to a screaching halt. So glad that our months of preparing & weeks of decorating for Winter WonderFest are done. And that the kids and their Moms could come down to join me for the Opening Party. Yep, them and hundreds of other festive party-goers!!!

Winter WonderFest is now open on Chicago’s Navy Pier through January 11th, 2015.
Click here for more information.

Categories: family, Taylor

In the category of “Things To Be Thankful For” today…
my niece Taylor is definitely in that category. She did a school project,
and apparently I’ve made quite the impression!

To quote little Taylor… HILARIOUS!!!

Categories: art fair, Taylor

We had a great day yesterday at ART IN THE BARN.
Lots of great customers, beautiful weather, tons of laughs, a funnel cake and my niece Taylor decided to be my new “Artist Assistant” for the day. She did great… and my booth has never been so “lined-up” and organized.

Categories: food, Taylor

Surprisingly, it was Taylor that had them, and NOT me!!!
Although in hindsight… I think I made a mistake!!!

Categories: music, special events, Taylor

Who can resist an adorable 8-year old singing Les Miserables at the school talent show?
Not me.

So when Taylor called to invite me I knew that I had to make the drive out to the ‘burbs tonight to see her big stage debut. She auditioned & decided to sing “Castle On A Cloud” from my favorite musical. And although she had a few technical “issues” along the way, I think she had a wonderful performance! And could she be any cuter??? Really?

Click here to see the video footage from her big debut!


Categories: creativity, family, inspiration, Taylor

Yesterday I got together with my niece Taylor to make her Halloween costume. She decided a few months back that she wanted to be a Minion from “Despicable Me.” Now I know that “Despicable Me 2″ was all the rage with the pre-teen crowd this past summer. But I must admit that I missed that one. So I had to do a little research to make sure we got all of the details correct. So for the rest of you who also missed The Minions… here they are…

With so many Minions, so little time… we had to decide which Minion she wanted to be.
Of course, it was every kid’s favorite… the one-eyed one of course!!!

So I went out to my sister’s house early yesterday for a yummy “planning” breakfast, followed by shopping for costume parts & pieces. After gathering all of our supplies, it was back to their house to build a Minion. But when we got back to their house, I was greeted by a small family surprise birthday party!!! Yes, apparently my “Birthday Month” continues with more fun & parties!!!!

After we chatted, opened presents and ate party foods, it was back to my Minion!!! Some foam sheeting, some styrofoam balls & wreaths and a bunch of yellow fabric! And we’re off... into Minion Madness!!!

And my very-trusting niece Taylor was inside as I cut the mouth open… right where her face was. And yes, we were EXTRA careful. Grandma, of course, was sitting there cringing with every poke & snip!

With some pipe cleaners for hair, we were getting close to completion…

A few final touches… like getting the overalls to stay in place on her lack-of-shoulders!

And here it is… the final Minion!!!

So we had Taylor put on her overalls, shoes, yellow shirt, gloves and the Minion!
Then it outside for a quick photo shoot. She loved it – and I was surprised how tall it made her look! She’s normally shorter than the fireplace!

If you look closely, you can even see Taylor’s little nose poking out of the mouth.

Mission accomplished. Minion accomplished.
And here’s Taylor de-Minioned… but still excited & ready to wear her costume on Halloween!