Gary Jackson: Fire When Ready Pottery
A Chicago potter’s somewhat slanted view of clay & play
Categories: flowers, friends, garden, totem pole

This past weekend was a great chance to get away for a few days…
not too far, but far enough.

So much fun to visit my “first art fair friends” and their amazing garden
in Peoria ablaze with Spring colors!

Oh, and look… a ceramic totem pole in their terraced backyard garden!
Wonder how THAT got there???



Categories: totem pole

So the students in the  the Montessori School of Lake Forest, Adolescent Program have been working hard on their totem pole. My friend Claire has been working with them to create their final masterpiece. They’ve used my blog as inspiration & reference as I’ve made a few totems in my day. So I was excited when Claire contacted me to tell me about their project. And now they’re in the final stretch. And plans are in the works for the installation of their totem.

It was a rather dreary day when they assembled their totems. First with a rebar pole down the center, then stacking and filling it up section by section.

At some point along the way, the people that purchased their totem decided they wanted three shorter totems instead of the one tall one. Of course I would prefer the  one tall one, but that’s just me. And since the kids had planned on just one totem, they had made just one topper. So now they need three!!! Unfortunately, the additional toppers can’t be made “immediately” so they decided to top them off with blue potter’s buckets. Safe keeping to protect them from filling with water. When the final topper pieces are built and fired, they will finish them off… and hopefully send me more pictures!!!

So for now their totems are “done.” Standing proud.  And they look amazing!
Congratulations to Claire and all of the adolescents who took part in this special project.
Thanks for sharing your totem pole adventure with me! I can’t wait to see the finished totems!



Categories: terra cotta, totem pole

My friend Claire works with a great group at a local Montessori School. Her students decided to build a totem pole for their auction project. Claire saw one of the totem poles my Summer Camp kids made a few years back… so she’s been using my blog as a reference for her totem pole project. I can’t wait to see the final results by the students at the Montessori School of Lake Forest, Adolescent Program. Their slab-built sections look great so far… even better when they’re glazed, fired and stacked!!!

Slab-built terra cotta sections… rolled into a hollow cylinder with a slab base. Each section will eventually be stacked into the finished totem pole.

To see more about my own totem pole adventures, click on the “totem pole” category in the column to the right.

Categories: garden, My Talented Friends, totem pole

With such a beautiful garden… it always seemed like the perfect place for one of my soda-fired totem poles. It has been neatly tucked into their garden for a few years now. I love seeing it every time I go down for a visit. Quite the honor to be “featured” in their award-winning garden!!!

As you go down the terraces, and turn a few corners, the path begins to reveal the totem pole.

Perched on the side of the slope, surrounded by ferns & hosts.

Categories: garden, totem pole

It may be freezing here in Chicago, but it’s never to soon
to start dreaming about Spring, gardens and totem poles!!!

Categories: art fair, family, totem pole

Last weekend at my Holiday Home Show, my cousin’s wife Anna brought their three kids all the way down from Minneapolis for a weekend visit, and a trip to my place! My cousin Kim came along with the Minnesota Foursome for some quality family time. Anna has been “threatening” to come for many years… and finally made it in to the city while her husband (my cousin Michael) was out-of-town for business. Thanks Anna for sharing your photos!

Bundled up outside my place like good Minnesotans… Christopher, Mitchell & Caroline.

Upstairs with cousin Kim…

They also loved my back porch and playing in my back courtyard area.
Not quite so pretty once all of the plants die-back for the Winter, huh?!

Which includes a “tilting” totem pole that needs to be straightened in the Spring…
and my Capt. America PEZ Dispenser sculpture that will be looking for a new home soon.

Categories: seasons, totem pole

After my weekend in southern Indiana, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the ivy in my back courtyard has started to change colors. But not a subtle gradation of colors. Instead, a smattering of deep red leaves mixed amongst the greens. A great backdrop for one of my handmade totem poles!

Categories: garden, nature, totem pole

When I got back from my morning ride, the sun was just starting to hit the garden. So I took a short breather to enjoy the Spring flowers popping up… as well as my stamped totem pole!

Categories: totem pole

My friends Pam & Pat are once again vacationing in Hawaii, as they do every year,
and went to the Hui No’eau Visual Arts Center. While they were there, they found
a wonderful totem pole on the grounds. Pam posted the photos – and I love them!!!

It reminds me of the totem poles my Summer Camps kids have made over the past
couple years! It looks like they’ve created their totem pole section-by-section as we do!
I especially love the face on the second one from the top… as well as the “handle”
sticking out the side for apparently no reason!!! Too cute…  thanks Pam!!!

Categories: inspiration, totem pole

By now you may have seen some of the totem poles my Summer Campers have made.
I’ve posted pictures here on the blog, and have received some great compliments.
Thank you all so much. But my latest excitement is seeing that my camp project has
inspired another teacher to do the same with her kids… way over on the “other side
of the Pond.” It’s pretty darn cool to see that my totem poles, and my little blog have
made it all the way to London AND inspired another group of kids to make their own
totem pole! Here’s an excerpt from the e-mail I received from Abby, the teacher.

Hello Gary,
We spoke a while back and you gave me a lot of good advice on how to go about
constructing a ceramic totem pole with my students in the UK. We finished the project
in July and I just back to the States a couple of weeks ago. 

They really enjoyed the project and when we dug the hole to put in the pipe we found
clay and got to experience where clay comes from first hand. It was a blast! I have
attached the finished product. The clay is outdoor clay and we painted it with themes
dealing with cultural exchange and environmental sustainability as a way of promoting
a healthier Earth in all respects. The clay also has recycled material on the surface and
is filled with gravel like you suggested. It was the hit of of our school. The school’s name
is Charters and it is in Sunningdale, England about 30 minutes outside of London.
Thank you for all of your help! I promised you pictures so they are attached. I look
forward to doing a similar project with my home school in Missouri.