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

On this week’s episode on THE GREAT POTTERY THROW DOWN, the potters had to do some handbuilding to build a complete chess set! They had 4-1/2 hours to build them all, and then another 3-1/2 hours to glaze them after bisque firing. And the whole time I was watching the show, I kept thinking about how great my Summer Camp kids are… and that many of them have done the same project as these adults on the show. And then I realized that I never posted pictures from last summer’s camp!!! So here we go… a fun flashback to last summer when my campers cranked out their Chess Sets in one week of fun!!!

We always start the camp with some discussion of rules & expectations… followed by some fun brainstorming to come up wth the themes the kids will be using to make their chess sets. Once they have their set all planned out, I do some demos for them to show off some basic handbuilding skills they’re going to need. And then I set them loose!!! Eyes on the prize… they need to stay focused as we start building & cranking out all of their pieces.

We continued building their pieces… as well as RE-building a few of them that might have fallen apart overnight as they dried. I mean, I keep telling the kids that they MUST score & slip everything really well or they will fall apart with they dry. Frequently a couple of them will think they know better… until they come back on Tuesday to see some of their pieces fell off… from NOT scoring & slipping! Told ya’ so!!!

We started the day with working on their chess boards. They had to decide what colors they wanted to go along twith their chess set theme. And then today’s goal was to paint the first set of squares.

They’ve also made more pieces today… working towards our goal of having all (or at least most) of their pieces completed by the end of the day.

We started the day with finishing up the painting of their chess boards…

And then returned back to the pieces… as we started lining up all of their pieces in the right order so they could see how their chess sets are really coming together! As they completed construction, I had them start painting with underglazes. Unfortunately, as they are painting their pieces, occasionally something mght break off if they’re not careful enough… or if something wasn’t scored & slipped well. So along the way, there are some repairs & rebuilds that happen too!!!

At several points throughout the day, I had to remind them that the underglazes
was supposed to go on their pieces… and NOT the table!!!

The final day… and always a LOT still to finish! By the end of class they need to have all 32 pieces consturcted & underglazed. I also encourage them all to make a few “extras” in case something breaks along the way… whether in the kiln or at home paying the game! It’s always so much fun at the end to see all of their themes really coming together!

And then we carefully put them all on the rolling studio cart… very carefully…
So proud of my Summer Campers and all of the hard work they put in this week!!!

So for now they’re sitting on the cart ready to be glazed. One of our studio monitors will carefully glaze them all with a low-fire clear glaze and fire them. The kids will just have to wait a few more days to get their AMAZING Chess Sets back!!!




Categories: holiday, terra cotta, The Ghouls Collection

Good to see that one of my pottery fans & friend is celebrating Halloween by showing off his collection of my handmade ghouls!!! Thanks for sharing George… no trick, just a great treat!!!

Categories: holiday, terra cotta, The Ghouls Collection

Pumpkins on parade for a chilly, snow-covered Halloween Night.


Categories: production, terra cotta, The Ghouls Collection

Fresh from the kiln – and ready to head over to ART IN THE BARN “under cover of darkness” so they can “fly” off the shelves this weekend! Remember, as the newest member of “The Ghouls Collection”, they are a Limited Edition of forty… and when they’re gone, they’re gone forever!

Categories: holiday, production, terra cotta

The newest batch of Jack-O’-Lanterns ready to put a festive smile on your face… especially if you see a squirrel trying to eat THIS pumpkin! These terra cotta pumpkins will be a Halloween favorite for years to come! Come see them in person at ART IN THE BARN this weekend on Saturday & Sunday from 10:00am-5:00pm.

Categories: holiday, terra cotta, The Ghouls Collection

A tiny new little batch of terra cotta pumpkins!
These cuties are headed to ART IN THE BARN as well.
Joining the rest of the pumpkin patch all boxed up & ready to go!!!


Categories: kiln firing, terra cotta, The Ghouls Collection

A first glimpse of the newest member of THE GHOULS COLLECTION!!!
A limited-edition of forty in BATS to join the rest of the creepy characters!
Assorted color combinations each with a slightly different personality!

Categories: glaze, terra cotta, The Ghouls Collection

The newest limited-edition Ghouls are almost ready… they’ve been assembled, underglazed and now glazed with a low-fire clear. Sure, it looks green… but it will turn clear after firing! Keep in mind there are only FORTY of each Ghoul… and when they all fly away, they’re gone forever!

Categories: production, terra cotta, The Ghouls Collection

Okay… so it’s been a CRAZY BUSY WEEK!!!
I started making the new Ghouls & Pumpkins on Saturday…
of course, my bad as I procrastinated.
.. but now they’re well on their way to the art fair this weekend. There have been a couple clues that I saw some of you caught along the way, but here’s the first glimpse of the newest limited-edition Ghoul headed your way!

Categories: terra cotta

And it looks like the kids are cranking out some beautiful Fall Leaves too…
just cooling in the kiln!