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

My niece Taylor came out to help at ART IN THE BARN both days.
She’s a great booth assistant, and apparently a blossoming “marketing director” in the making… with her own Instagram collage post to her friends & followers.
Always thinking, always helping.





Categories: family, sunset, Taylor

A wonderful day of “playing hooky” at Six Flags Great America yesterday with my “family four pass.” We got season passes this year so we can play all summer!!! Roller coasters, water rides & cotton candy… and the new JOKER… oh my.

Yes, THE JOKER was our first ride of the day. It’s the newest roller coaster at Great America. I t may not look all that cool in still photos… but… what you can’t see is that the seats are actually flipping around while you’re sitting in them zooming & down the track. Much of the time you have no idea of which side is up!!!

To see more about the newest roller coaster THE JOKER, click here for the teaser video.

Never too early for cotton candy… luckily for us, my cousin Kim was willing to share!

A quick ride on The Viper… one of Taylor’s favorites!!! A great wooden roller coaster with lots of hills & bumps…. lots of flying out of your seat!!! Which I love!!!

Next up for me and Kim… Vertical Velocity. A quick twist up one end, and straight up the other. Not big hill to ride up and ride down… just magnetic propulsion sending you soaring up into the sky. Needless to say, Jen & Taylor decided to sit this one out.

While waiting for Logger’s Run… we saw momma robin had set-up her nest right above the the roaring rapids of the water ride. Not too calm or serene… but she sure seemed to like her vantage point.

After the ride, we were a little drenched… but happy!
Ready to move on to another roller coaster to help us dry out a bit!!!

As our day of roller coasters, water rides and snacks continued into the late afternoon, the sun began to set creating some great views & vantage points.

All of a sudden, the sunset turned the sky ablaze with colors. Creating a beautiful sky show creating a wonderful sky show with the roller coaster silhouettes.

All too soon, our day at Great America had come to an end. A wonderful day, beautiful weather and so much fun with Taylor, Jen & Kim!!! And luckily, we have our season passes… so more fun to come!!!



Categories: Taylor, theater

Another fun night of musical theater last night with my niece & oompa-loompa Taylor in her school’s production of Willie Wonka… complete with her first “official” headshot!


Categories: family, special events, Taylor

Sure, it’s freezing cold outside today… but the summer memories are still warm!
So here’s another summer flashback!!!

We started our day (back in August) at Six Flags Great America… and of course we had to start on a roller coaster! Taylor may have been a little cautious at first, but that didn’t last long…

Then we were off to my favorite… The Raging Bull.

After our first couple roller coasters, we played Whack-A-Mole… and I WON!!!
But the best part was that we ALL won colorful character baseball hats!!!
We looked gangsta’s in the hood of Nickelodeon!

More spinning… more squealing… more giggling…

Of course we had to take a cotton candy break… it is Great America after all.
And who doesn’t like a little more sugar to keep everyone amp’d up?!!!

More roller coasters… more fun… this time back on The Viper!!!

Seems like it was all coasters all the time… including the X-Flight!!!

Taylor was great at most of the roller coasters… although she drew the line at Vertical Velocity. I had to do that one with my cousin Kim while Jen & Taylor did the flying swings a couple times. In hind sight, the swings may have been better for Kim too… she was a bit queasy after this one! Magnetic jet-propulsion, twisting and flying straight up might not be her thing?!

All too soon, the sun started to set and our day was drawing to an end. The park takes on a whole new look as the sun goes down and the park lights begin to turn on.

It may have been sunset, but we still had time for a few more rides. Including another ride on Taylor’s favorite The Viper. Which looks so much cooler with the silhouettes of sunset.

Darkness was falling quick and we had time for one last ride… Spinning & swinging on The Revolution. So much fun… especially in the dark when all the lights are blurring, spinning and sparkling. A fitting end to our wonderful day at Great America… oh wait, that might have been the funnel cakes ala mode with hot fudge that we had just before leaving the park?!!!


Categories: food, soda-fired, stamped, Taylor

A “sweet” collaboration to finish off our festivities last night. My niece Taylor’s decorated sugar cookies on one of my stamped & soda-fired platters!

Categories: food, holiday, Taylor

Nothing says Thanksgiving like a plate of deviled eggs. Especially when they’re served on a stamped & soda-fired platter… and topped with a bite of caramelized bacon! Not to mention the sweet little fingers of the egg-Chef – my niece Taylor!!!

Categories: classes, creativity, family, Taylor

Little Sunday color-theory art lesson and painting fun with my niece Taylor today. Basic color wheels and color gradations with Taylor and her mom Jen… my sister.

Categories: family, friends, My Talented Friends, Taylor

My niece Taylor got a new Taylor for Christmas!!!
Her Grandma & Grandpa (my parents) bought Taylor a beautiful new necklace from “My Talented Friend” Amy Taylor. She makes these wonderfully whimsical necklaces that she calls ADORBS… because they’re ADORABLE!!! I love having an adorable niece…. and I love having talented friends. And I really love when these moments come together!

So cute… so ADORBS.
For more of Amy Taylor’s work, click here for her website.

Categories: cirque du soleil, family, special events, Taylor

Exactly one week later…¬† and I’m back for another healthy dose of Cirque du Soleil.
And coincidentally, the seats that we have this time are EXACTLY the same as last time?! My parents ordered the tickets online, and my niece Taylor was sitting in MY seat from last time.

Kinda fun to see the show for a second time. To see the things you missed the first time. And to watch for any small differences in the performance. It is live after all.. so something’s gotta be different!!!

Also fun to see it with my sister Jen and my niece Taylor. It was their first time under Le Grand Chapiteau! Jen has seen some of the shows in Las Vegas, but never a traveling show under the tent. And for Taylor this was her first time seeing Cirque du Soleil live EVER!!! Also their first time enjoying circus popcorn with chocolate M&M’s sprinkled all over… yep, my doing!!!

The show was wonderful again as expected. There were a few differences. Some of which I was not pleased with. But no one else would probably even notice. For some reason, the juggler at the beginning who does his “duet” with the drummer was nowhere to be found. No juggler ever?! And the “Aviator” character who did the traditional tubes & planks balancing act on a non-traditional swing… did hand-balancing on that same swing?! No tubes. No planks. Same actor. Same costume. Similar, but different… and sadly, not quite as exciting.

Otherwise, our evening under the Big Top for KURIOS was fun for the family. My parents enjoyed the show, and Jen & Taylor loved their “first” Cirque du Soleil experiences!!! And I can never get enough!!!

Categories: family, special events, Taylor

Yesterday was a wonderful day… beautiful weather, incredible rides and a full day of fun with my niece Taylor and sister Jen. It’s was our annual adventure to Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Ilinois. My cousin Kim was supposed to come with, but she was instead bed-ridden with a back injury. Probably not the best idea to taunt the injury with jostling on some roller coasters?!

We arrived early before the rides open. They allow you to enter the park, but the actual lines don’t open until 10:30am. So there was plenty of time for a few “glamour shots.”

We considered several different roller coasters for our first ride of the day. Taylor was being a little cautious, so we ended up back on “The Viper”… her favorite wooden roller coaster from last year. Lots of bumps, twists and hills that make you fly out of your seat. Okay, she’s right… it is a pretty great roller coaster!!!

Of course there are the prerequisite spinny, twisty, going-around-in-circles rides that Taylor loves!!! Jen gets a little squeamish on these spinny rides, so it’s just Taylor and I taking on the challenge… again… and again… and again…

We didn’t quite make it on “The Demon.” A little too “bouncy” and not quite as smooth as we would like. Taylor did it last year but wasn’t too much of a fan. Too much head shaking & jostling around. But I did get a great shot of it while we were waiting in line for another spinny ride!

Next up was her other favorite roller coaster… “The Whizzer.” It’s one of the original rides form when Six Flags opened thirty years ago. It’s not the tallest or fastest, but it does give you a great view of the rest of the park and its many roller coaster!

And yes, for the record…
Every roller coaster does have a sign that clearly states cameras are NOT permitted while on any of the rides. It also says that arms & legs are to remain in the car at all times. Ha!!! But if we all followed the rules, we wouldn’t have great pictures like this, right?! I rest my case.

After several roller coasters and a lot of spinny rides, it was finally time for lunch. And who doesn’t love huge corn dogs & cheesy nachos?! Not the healthiest of options, but… when in Rome…

And then it was back to the spinny… maybe not the best idea on a newly full stomach?!
I’m sure some good Dippin’ Dots will settle that back down!!!

We took a calming “diversion” to settle someone’s stomach and recharge in the calming & air conditioned Sky Trek Tower. It’s a very slow, revolving elevator that gives you great views of the park.

Front to back… “Raging Bull”, “Giant Drop”, and the original classic “American Eagle”…

“The Whizzer”…

“The Viper” on the right…

The classic carousel at the entrance…

Another great shot of “The Viper”…

And “Hurricane Harbor Water Park” that we never quite make it too.

After our refueling ride up the tower, it was finally time to tackle some water rides!!! First up, “Logger’s Run.” Another Great America classic that has been there for thirty years… and you can tell.

And once you’re wet, you might as well go for another water ride… this time it was “Roaring Rapids” where we all got soaked!!!

What better way to dry off than another trip on Taylor’s favorite “The Viper”???

And Taylor’s nemesis… “Raging Bull.” It’s my favorite of all the roller coasters, but Taylor was NOT a fan last year when she went on. I think it was far too open on the sides, and only has a lap restraint – not the full over-the-shoulder-lock-you-in-contraption as some of the newer ones. So the closest we got to it this year was walking under it as we were in line for “The Viper”… again.

Sunset shots of “The Viper” and “Raging Bull.”

And what trip to Great America is complete without a couple funnel cakes at the end?! I mean if you’re going to go, you might as well go all the way, right?! So I had them add ice cream & hot fudge to mine! Taylor chose the classic powdered sugar route… but obviously was left wanting more!

After the funnel cakes, our day came to an end back where we started. With a beautiful view of the iconic Great America Carousel. And the conclusion to another great day at Great America with Taylor & Jen. Sorry Kim… maybe next year?