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

Looks like another beautiful, snow-covered day down in Peoria.
So cozy. So serene. So snowy. Until you look a little bit closer…
and what do you see???

Hidden deep inside the snowy branches…. still standing…

The new “replacement” totem pole that I made for Gerry & Rosene after their first totem pole got smashed by a falling tree! Luckily, it looks like this one is okay… but WHEW!!!… that was a close call!!! I think they might need to buy a lotto ticket with that kinda luck!

Categories: creativity, friends, holiday, totem pole

It’s beginning to look LOT like Christmas!!!EVERYwhere you go! So festive & fun to see how one of my ceramic totem poles is now surrounded by Christmas Cheer!!! It’s a crazy mix of holiday fun out in the suburbs these days!!! Thanks Chris!

Categories: architecture, Chicago, totem pole

Clear blue skies made a perfect opportunity for a beautiful afternoon bike ride! Including a stop at the totem pole at Lake Shore Drive & Addison… a favorite landmark for many Chicagoans!

Categories: soda-fired, stamped, totem pole

It was great to see my most recent totem pole still standing in the garden this past weekend… even though the plants have all withered away. The soda-fired colors are a nice contrast to the browns of the ground & bare trees. It will be especially fun to see it again when the snow starts to fall.

Categories: holiday, pottery, soda-fired, textures, totem pole

Looks like one of my totem poles has taken on a festive Thanksgiving flair… but I might say that I think Chris now needs bigger pilgrims. HA!!!

Categories: friends, holiday, soda-fired, stamped, totem pole

It was the first weekend of October… and a perfect chance to pull out the Halloween Decorations! My friend Chris pulled out all the stops & all the lights… decorating the front of her house in festive spooky glory. Including some huge spiders on her ceramic totem pole!!!

I think I need to go trick-or-treating at HER house this year!

Categories: friends, soda-fired, stamped, totem pole

Back at the start of the Covid Pandemic, my very first art fair friends Gerry & Rosene had a little “incident” in their back yard. A storm blew through Central Illinois and took out one of their largest trees. As if that weren’t bad enough… it also smashed my ceramic totem pole that was residing their yard! We had installed it in their back terraced garden about a decade ago. a beautiful addition to their incredible garden treasure. But that big tree coming down did a LOT of damage to their garden… and what with a pandemic just starting to take-over! Bad timing!

Luckily, we had cemented the totem pole into the ground… so their insurance claim covered as it was a “permanent” piece of their landscaping. With funds coming from the inurance company, Gerry & Rosene had me start making a replacement totem for them I threw the pieces, stamped them and started decorating them.

Once they were soda-fired, I packed them up in crates and stored them in my basement until Gerry & Rosene were ready to install into their yard. Turns out yesterday was the day!!! I I packed up my car with all of the stamped & soda-fired sections… grabbed my cousin Kim… and drove down to Peoria for the day yesterday!!!

After a tour of the garden… a lot of chatting & catching up in our masks… and some food, it was time to get started with the totem pole! So we set out all of the pieces in the beautiful sunshine and got the project started!

I started by digging the hole for the pole to be planted into. I used a great auger tool to make the hole, and a sledge hammer to pound in the pole. We then added a bag of cement around the pole to fill the hole and secure the pole.

Rosene & my cousin Kim worked to organize and sequence the pieces in the right order… not that there is a right & wrong… just a preference. They looked at colors, textures, patterns & shapes and tried to randomize them as much as possible to it all stacked together nicely. Not quite as easy of a project as it sounds!

As they continued to organize the pieces, Gerry & I started to stack the pole from the bottom up. Piece by piece, section by section. I finally made it to the top to put on the every last piece. The topper to the totem pole!!!

And then we were done… and ready for our “photo shoot.” It was so nice to give them back the totem pole they lost in the storm. I do think that this “version” is much nicer than the original. The pieces have a bit more stamping &detailing on them. The colors are a bit more vibrant… and they chose a fitting spot for it right in their front yard! They were SO excited… and SO CUTE!!!

So there it is… their NEW replacement totem pole. Bigger & better than the firs tone… thanks to State Farm and their homeowner’s insurance!

However, they also still had a few pieces left from the original one that had “survived” the tree crash! So I planned ahead and made a new base & a new topper for them “just in case” we could re-stack the survivors and make a smaller totem in the back yard. It worked great… as it is very close to the original location of the first totem. In fact, in the next photo, you can practically see the “dead space” where the tree fell!!!

So no they have TWO new totems in their amazing garden!!! It was a wonderful day playing in the garden, chatting, eating all the while trying to keep our safe distance with our masks on. Okay sure, we may have gotten a little close a couple times… but we tried... we really tried!!!

But in the end… THEY HAVE A NEW TOTEM POLEor two!!!

Categories: garden, totem pole

Another totem pole finds it’s new home!

My friend Chris finally got around to having her new totem pole installed into her front yard! It looks pretty great standing as a sentinel to greet guests surrounded by her blooming flower bed!

Categories: stamped, totem pole

Tonight I painted all of the parts & pieces with a few different colored flashing slips. It will be fun to see how the colors interact with the soda-firing atmosphere in the kiln. Creating cool flashing marks on the pieces… adding a bit of “random” to my kinda obsessive control issues while stamping! Ha!!!

Categories: stamped, stamps, textures, totem pole

Stamping just one cylinder is fun, but stamping a whole table full of them is AMAZING!!! So much fun seeing these pieces transform with new textures & patterns!