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

So I’ve been making tiles for quite awhile now…
a slightly larger size for a slightly larger installation!
Lots of slabs. Lots of textures. Lots of soda firing!!!

It took me awhile to get them done, but I finally did. The original estimate was about 520 tiles… so I didn’t want to start until I had more than that. As we got closer, my brother-in-law did a bit more math and decided that 380 tiles should be enough for the installation. WHEW!!!… I had plenty!

We started with a template. Scott made a piece of foam core that fit into the space perfectly. The tiles were going to fit into the space within their built-in bookcase and surround the television. So he made a template – and then popped it out so we could layout all of the tiles on the dining room table to fit.

And then we started to fill in the template. Tile by tile. Square by square.

Placing them all onto the template to fill the foam core. Trying to place them all so that they “appear” to be random. So it’s a jigsaw puzzle of sorts putting them together so the textures are spread out, the colors are not too close to each other… and so on. I like to call it “forced random.”

And it looks like we have a good start… in the top right corner at least!!!

With the top corner “done”… we still have a lot of surface to cover!!!

And then once the template was “full”… it was time to start finalizing it. Trying to “force” the random look.

And let me just say… it’s kind of a slippery slope that could last forever!
Every time you move & switch-out one tile… then another tile looks out of place…
and then another.. and then another…

At some point you just need to call it DONE!… and apparently, we’re not there yet?!

Yep… still switching them out… like I said… SLIPPERY SLOPE!

Finally calling the template done… and ready to start installation.
So here’s the bookcase… and our work table all set-up and ready to go!

So we started at the bottom, using tile spacers from the hardware store!

We followed the picture on the bag, as well as our own gut-intuition, using the spacers flat against the wall. But soon realized that THAT wasn’t going to work. After two rows, it appeared that it was going to get tough to pick-out the spacers as the tiles dried to the wall. So we quickly switched to sticking them in between the tiles parallel to the countertop.

Squirt-by-squirt… gluing them directly onto the wall. We found that it helped if we let the adhesive stiffen up for a few minutes before we squished them to the wall. If we did it too soon they seemed to be a lot slippery-ER.

So then we continued… row after row… until we had three done. We decided to take a little “break” to let them set up a bit before the stacked more tiles on these bottom rows. Long ways still to go…

A few more rows and we were up to ten rows! Leaving a space in the middle… space that will be covered by the television when it’s put back onto the wall.

And then we made it to twelve rows! Glue, squish, stick, repeat…

Luckily, I had my niece Taylor there as my more-than-able-bodied-assistant!
She did a wonderful job all say with the installation!

After crossing the span above the “TV” space… with the help of a well-spaced strip of foam core… we finally made it to the top. Well, “close” to the top of the wall. However… not close enough to leave as is… not big enough to squeeze in another tile…

So we ended up cutting a few tiles… some with a Dremel, some with an actual tile cutter!
Let’s just say it wasn’t as easy as I had hoped it might be! We had to do a full row for the top edge, as well as two cut to fit around the granite countertop part way down.

Taylor did a great job putting the finishing touches on the top row,
while I fudged the two to go around the granite counters.

So finally the tiles were up… spacers keeping everything in place. Since all of the tiles aren’t quite “perfect”… we also employed a few toothpicks to help even out the horizontal lines. Look closely…

As well as a couple custom-made tiles with initials on them!

After the tile adhesive cured, it was finally time to pull out the tile spacers & toothpicks.

What a difference it makes when all of that “support material” comes out.
So here’s the finished look… the dark lines between the tiles is merely the painted wall color. There will be no grout… just the “floating” illusion from the paint.

After re-installing the television and speakers along the bottom, the whole project is finally completed. It’s been a long time coming… lots of tiles, lots of textures, lots of soda-firing… and lots of wadding as every tile needed to be wadded before going into the soda kiln!

Thanks to my sister Jen, brother-in-law Scott and niece Taylor for their patience in waiting for the tiles… as well as all of their assistance & patience while we were installing this masterpiece. I hope they will LOVE it for many years to come!!!

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Categories: art fair, flowers, soda-fired, textures, vases

Huge thanks to everyone who stopped by my place today for
MUD & METAL : My Second Holiday Home Show!

It was a beautiful day with sun streaming in lighting up the place…
and smashing it on some flowers!!! Don’t forget that we’re doing it again tomorrow
from 10:00am-4:00pm!

But don’t look too close… these flowers are fake!!! Looking pretty good for silk, right?

Categories: art fair, bowls, glaze, stamped, textures

Some beautiful stamped green bowls fresh out of the kiln for this weekend’s
Holiday Home Show MUD & METAL.
Sure to go fast…
Saturday 10:00am-6:00pm & Sunday 10:00-4:00pm!!!

And if green’s not your thing… plenty of other colors & soda-fired finishes as well.
Plus incredible jewelry by Amy Taylor!!! Something for everyone on your list!!!

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Categories: art fair, pottery, soda-fired, stamped, textures, vases

Wouldn’t someone on your holiday gift list love some soda-fired textures?!…
like these square vases with a different pattern on each side?!
Several still looking for good homes this weekend at
MUD & METAL : My Second Holiday Home Show!!!

Categories: artists, My Talented Friends, textures

Just one hour left for this year’s ONE OF A KIND SHOW. Plenty of time to swing by Booth #2118 to see my friend Sarah Chapman’s beautiful jewelry & metal wall pieces like this one!

Categories: soda-fired, textures

Fresh from my last soda kiln and headed towards the shelves
this weekend for my HOLIDAY HOME SHOW!!!

All of these textures can be found on my latest batch of square vases…
each with two different patterns on the two sides of the vase!

Categories: soda-fired, textures, tiles

While unloading my soda kiln I practically filled a box with textured tiles.
The larger ones are already “spoken for” with an upcoming installation…
but I need to pull something together with these smaller ones for next weekend’s
HOLIDAY HOME SHOW. A couple new ClayQuilts coming soon!!!

Categories: classes, family, friends, terra cotta, textures

Last night we played with clay to celebrate Kieran’s upcoming nuptials.
The “bachelorette” group had already been to the Art Institute, and had pizza for dinner,
next stop was the studio for some terra cotta fun! They all made textured slabs
that they turned into vases & mugs. So much fun to see them working together
through the generations. Such a wonderful group of family & friends…
which I’m honored to say I’m part of!

Who’s to say what “trouble” the girls got into though after they left the studio?!!!

Lots of fun & laughter… lots of encouragement & support… a lot of great pots!
All of which ended with little Ryann scrubbing down the tables!

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Categories: bowls, classes, textures, tools

So he’s at it again… the carving addiction has taken a hold of my student Dave.
My class demo intrigued him… so he bought his own DiamondCore Carving Tool
and now he’s a force to be reckoned with. He’s definitely found a new direction for his work.
I can’t wait to see where this new passion takes him!!!

Categories: process, textures, tiles

Spent part of my day yesterday wadding individual tiles for the soda kiln. Each and every tile… one by one… wad, wad, wad… all ready to be loaded into the kiln. The perfect “kiln filler” in between all of the other pots! Sure, it takes me longer to load the kiln, but by the time I’m done barely any of the empty shelf surface is showing!