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

Getting off to a good start… throwing simple concave cylinders
that will work perfectly for this year’s ghoul!

Categories: summer camp, wheelthrowing

It’s another week of Summer Camp…
and my wheelthrowing kids have already made a LOT of pots!!!

Categories: summer camp, wheelthrowing

Busy week at summer camp this week. My campers have cranked out a lot of pots on the wheel… many of them for the first time. Two days to throw making a table full of pots! They’ve since been trimmed, stamped & detailed. For today we switched to handbuilding.

Categories: bowls, classes, wheelthrowing

This week in class was my favorite demo of the entire session!!!
Making bowls on purpose instead of a cylinder gone bad… and then altering & decorating.

My bowl demo has a three-part approach.
First, to show them how to make nice, smoothly rounded bowls instead of settling for a cylinder gone bad. So we have a nice curve in the interior instead of a flat bottom and corners like a cylinder.

Second, to introduce them to colored slips as another “tool” for surface decoration to make their pots more special & fun.

Third, to get them to play with their clay more. To realize that is not as “precious” as they think it is. To get over it. Pinch, flute, flare, squish, whatever. Do something fun with your pot to make it your own!!! Any one can make a plain round both. Make it special. Make it yours!

So we did the throwing demo… and then my students went back to their wheels to start practicing. While they were away, I threw the rest of the bowls… a full bag of clay to make 16 bowls! When I finished throwing them all, we reconvened to do some altering. All of the bowls started out pretty much the same… but after some quick changes, each one was different from the others!!!

Bowl #1 – two simple twisted flutes

Bowl #2 – and if two twisted flutes are good, eight might be better?!

Bowl #3 – a simple flared flange of a rim.

Bowl #4 – a much deeper flared flange… kinda like that bowl you get a very fancy expensive restaurant where the give you the big bowl with a teeny-tiny nugget of food in the bottom for a very high price!

Bowl #5 – then we combined fluted twists on the flared flange.

Bowl #6 – a simple split rim… pinched back together in four places.

Bowl #7 – another split rim, dented in in four places, and then dented outwards too!

Bowl #8 – a fun little “surprise” flower in the bottom of the bowl made with a metal dragonscaling tool.

Bowl #9 – For this one, my students were excited to have me try a new style. My plan was to cut the rim off in with decorative curves. I started with four curved incisions… and I tossed the cut-off parts into the splash pan. But then someone suggested I use the cut-off parts somehow. So I pulled them out, rolled them a bit and decided to add them on as handles. Unfortunately, the clay cut-outs were a bit gooey, and I didn’t score & slip them on… so I will be peeling them off and adding better handles later.

And then I introduced colored slip as a decorative accent…

Bowl #10 – a simple coating of thick white slip on the interior of the bowl. My plan for later is to do some decorative carving through the slip to reveal the darker clay in the design.

Bowl #11 - a simple layer of thick white slip and a rounded tool dragged through while the wheel was spinning to get this mesmerizing spiral effect.

Bowl #12 – another layer of thick white slip and some “finger painting” squiggles while the wheel was still spinning.

Bowl #13 – thick white slip with a spiral and some simple banding.

Bowl #14 – thick white slip with some chattering through the slip. Steady rhythmic tapping of a plastic rib through the slip to show the darker clay. Tapping, spinning and moving up all at the same time to get this great design.

Bowl #15 – a flared flange covered with thick white slip… and then some simple finger drags through it to create a patterned rim.

Bowl #16 – a layer of white slip, and then a layer of blue mazzerine slip over part of it for a groovy ombre effect.

So for now they’re wrapped up under plastic… soon to be stamped, carved, detailed and more!

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Categories: mugs, process, production, wheelthrowing

Oh, what to make?… what to make?…
More MUGS of course!!! You know it’s my favorite go-to!