Gary Jackson: Fire When Ready Pottery
A Chicago potter’s somewhat slanted view of clay & play
Categories: mugs, patterns, soda-fired, textures

Just playing with some new textures, patterns, lines and new ways to make more mugs!!!
There’s definitely some good potential here. Time to push it further!!!



Categories: stamped, textures
Categories: nature, textures

Me liken’ the lichen. You lichen???
Or am I just barking up the wrong tree?

Categories: artists, classes, mugs, textures

So I got an email from one of my Facebook Fans… Kate Chenok, a potter from the San Francisco area. She told me she was traveling for business and would LOVE to stop by my studio to meet me. She gave me her travel schedule and it aligned with the classes I teach on Mondays & Tuesdays. She suggested I check out her website to see her work… so I did. And I saw these wonderful little “folded mugs” on her website. And a plan started to develop…

Sure, she could easily stop by the studio and sit-in one of my classes while my students were working during Week #9. But I had a better plan… I figured it might be fun if Kate Chenok stopped by and then do a quick demo for my students! Perfect timing. Perfect plan!

So I asked her to swing by the studio on a Tuesday night. We’re in Week #9 of the ten-week session, and I thought my Beginner’s might like a little handbuilding “break” from the wheel. Kate got here a t little late… so we did a quick tour of my studio and Lillstreet… and then it was right into my classroom. Quick introduction and she was on for the demo.

We threw some quick slabs, and she showed how she adds texture using assorted texture forms, vinyl placemats, corrugated cardboard and more.

She then shared the patterns she uses to cut our a shape from the slab. Carefully aligning her textured design with the shape of the cut-out pattern.

And then that cut-out shape was carefully rolled and seamed together with angled edges… carefully seaming the seam with as little fudging & smudging as possible. The cutout darted sections are also scored, slipped and stuck together. Basically folding in the bottom of the cup.

After the darts are connected, she took a second to smooth out the interior and double-checking the security of the seam. All the while trying to keep the exterior pattern as clean and smudge-less as possible.

The square bottom “hole” that is created by the folding in of the darts needs to be filled. Another small piece of textured slab is scored and slipped into place.

After securing the bottom, a little refining of the rim is in order.

And then there’s the question of the seam. Is it smooth enough? Does it need to blend in better? Or should it be made more apparent?… or even decorated with little stamped buttons?!

After Kate finished her demo, we encouraged my students to step up and give it a go. Some of them were very excited… you could see it on their faces during the demo. So they pulled out their slabs and texture tools  and dove right in!!!

Kate was great… so sharing with her knowledge and time. Helping my students through every step of the process.

Such focus and determination by Carmina and Grace…

And here’s one of the “finished” pieces… a very sweet little pitcher that Grace made. She’s become quite the master of texture… and even added a bit of slip detail on top of the textured surface!!!

Huge thanks once again to Kate for stopping by and playing with my students. We all had a great time and learned a lot from her.

To see more about Kate Chenok and her work,
including her wonderful folded mugs, click here for her website.






Categories: flowers, nature, textures

Morning sun spotlighting some of nature’s beauty. A bush full of white spring flowers and wonderful “camouflage” bark textures peeling on a sycamore tree.

Categories: process, production, stamped, textures

Spent the night finishing up some wall pocket vases. Stamping, detailing and painting a few small accents of colored flashing slip.

Categories: color, nature, textures

I’m sure liken’ the lichen & moss colors & textures of these wet Spring days.

Categories: porcelain, production, stamped, textures

Fun with circles. Concentric. Spiral. Rings.
Some in porcelain, some in soda clay.
People keep “guessing” that some of my pieces might be trivets.
Just to set the record straight… these are in fact going to be trivets!!!
Actual, legitimate hot-plate trivets!!!

Categories: bowls, classes, patterns, textures

I started this “beveled bowl” carving project as a demo for my class a couple weeks back. It has taken a “little longer” than expected… a little bit here, a little bit there… and I feel like I could keep “cleaning it up” forever. But tonight I finally called it “done.” Of course I had to keep telling myself “It’s just a demo, it’s just a demo…” I started by throwing a bowl with slightly thicker walls than usual. And let it stiffen up a soft leatherhard so I could trim a nice foot. Then I brought the bowl to class to start the demo. I used my Xacto knife to incise horizontal lines while the bowl was on the wheel. Then I moved it over to a banding wheel and incised vertical lines. Hopefully evenly spaced… I eye-balled it, so who knows… but it created sixteen sections. The incising is to establish “sections” that will be carved, as well as cut lines so the bevels “pop out” better later. Do NOT carve all the way through the bowl!!!

Then it’s time to start carving… I attack one square at a time. Beveling the section from top to bottom in one row, and then bottom to top in the adjacent rows. The effect is alternating bevel directions all the way around the bowl. Yes, this is going to take awhile… sixteen vertical sections and five horizontal bands. That makes 80 squares to carve!!!

One by one. All the way around. Trying to keep it clean and consistent. Of course you’ll need to go over each section a couple times. Some come out cleaner than others… some will be a struggle. I would also recommend not doing this trick with clay that has a loft of grog in it. The smoother the clay the cleaner the carving will be without revealing a lot of rough grog chunks.

Of course I could keep going.. keep carving… keep cleaning. The smoother the lines the better, but seriously, at some point I just had to call this one done. It’s JUST a class demo after all. A lot of work to show off a fun carving “trick.” Hopefully the glaze will cover up the parts that I “gave up” on!!! And maybe a little Dremel sanding before glazing if worse comes to worse… and my OCD kicks in before it gets glazed. I could work on this one forever…





Categories: classes, process, stamps, textures

I began my Tuesday evening by throwing a lot of cylinders in my studio. I had a plan…
I was on a mission… and my wheelthrowing class was going to be starting soon!

So I received a package of few carving tools in the mail awhile back… so exciting!!!
And I’m always telling my students to experiment, to try new things, to break out of their shells. To remember that it’s JUST CLAY!!! But I get it… my Beginners are working so hard to make each and every cylinder. It’s a lot of work. A lot of centering & focus. So much so that each piece is somehow considered “too precious” to experiment with. So tonight I plan to test them… to push them a bit… to show them that it’s NOT so precious. I figured if I provide them with already thrown cylinders, all of the “hard part” is done, right?

So I threw a bunch of cylinders and brought the down to class with me. I explained my “not-so-precious” texture & surface decoration challenge to them. I encouraged them each to do anything they wanted to the surface of their cylinder. To carve, slip, stamp, whatever!!! Just have fun… and see what happens with their new-found “freebie” not-so-precious cylinder!!! And here they go…

After class, I did a little “photo shoot” in my studio before they started to dry.

SO HERE”S YOUR CHALLENGE : Can you guess which ones are mine?!

Special thanks to Robert at C.I. Products for sending me a little “care package” of tools to try out. I’ve been kind of busy through the holidays… and finally found some time to try them out. And why not share my new tools with my students?! These Zebra Trimming Tools are pretty darn amazing. They took us a little while to get used to them. The blades are at a different angle than Kemper Tools…. and adjustable!!! The wood is so lightweight… and the foam grip pretty sweet too. But it’s really the extra-sharp blades that cut such a smooth clean line with nice line definition. I definitely look forward to using them more in my own work. Seeing what kinds of great textures & patterns I can come up with using these great new Zebra Tools!!! Thanks again Robert… your tools are GREAT!

Click here to see the wide assortment of tools from C.I. Products.
Or here to go straight to the Zebra Trimming Tools.
You’ll be glad you did… especially those of you who are carving crazy cool patterns, making cool textures and doing a lot of sgraffito or mishima.