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

NEVER ENOUGH. After teaching class this morning, I stuck around in my studio and made a few more bowls! Probably my second favorite thing to make… next to MUGS of course!!!

Categories: classes, clay, wheelthrowing

With the “success” of our marbled clay experiments, last night one of my students continued wheelthrowing with colored clays. Katie used white porcelain, as well as blue & black porcelains she made with mason stains. We’re all LOVING how these pieces have been turning out. A fun novelty to be exploring during these crazy days! They’re looking great Katie!!!

Categories: classes, clay, soda-fired, vases, wheelthrowing

One special piece that came out of my soda kiln firing, was this vase that was a class demo from a couple weeks back. We’ve been playing with some colored clays & marbled wheelthrowing. This piece started with “white” B-clay, brown clay, and a “green” B-clay we made with mason stains. It was an experiment to see how it would turn out in the soda kiln with nothing but the soda atmosphere to “glaze” the exterior. Looks like a great success to me!!! I think we’re onto something…

Categories: ornaments, wheelthrowing

With the temperatures dramatically dropping into the thirties overnight, I guess it finally “feels” like the right time to start making more wheelthrown holiday ornaments!

Categories: classes, ornaments, wheelthrowing

Not a bad ware board of “demo pots” from this morning’s wheelthrowing class. We tackled lidded jars – both traditional & my favorite “trick” jar. The lids we threw off-the-hump… and I had some clay left over on the hump… so we did some impromptu ornaments too!

Categories: lillstreet, summer camp, wheelthrowing

My final week of camp… sadly, as all good things must come to an end!
But in one way or another… virtual or on-site.. the kids are going back to school soon.

So this was my final week of camp – another week of Wheelthrowing!
And by this time, several of them had already done a Wheelthrowing Camp over the summer, so it was a little easier for everyone. And they made some great little pots!

And then there was Greta, who asked if she could layer two different slip colors… and then carve through them! Of course I said YES!!! So she put down a layer of green slip, and then covered it with white slip. We tried to “quick dry” it a bit. And then she started carving through to reveal the color and the clay body below! I love when kids go a bit further with their projects… MORE IS MORE!!!

Even with kids!!!

And with that… the end of my Summer Camp 2020!

So much fun playing with all of the kids this Summer. I think it was so good for all of us to be able to work together face-to-face… errr, mask-to-mask… after so long being quarantined and sheltering-at-home. I know the parents were so thankful that we were there to teach the kids… and to give them an option to get them out of the house! Let alone, give the kids something fin to do this Summer. As practically everything else had been cancelled due to Covid-19.

Categories: bowls, classes, pottery, process, production, wheelthrowing

Last night in my Beginning & Advanced Beginning Wheelthrowing class we did my FAVORITE demo of the session! I started with a class demo on how to throw a basic bowl on purpose… and NOT just a cylinder gone bad. A nice smooth curve though the bottom of the bowl… and no “beginners ledge” near the bottom! So we did the demo… made a bowl and they went back to their wheels to start making their bowls… on purpose!

While they were throwing their bowls, I continued to throw more of mine. After throwing a bunch of basic bowls, we reconvened for more demo. Where I showed them some quick decorative tricks, rim alterations and colored slip to make their bowls not-so-basic anymore!

Bowl #1 – four fluted edges

Bowl #2 – if four is good, maybe eight fluted edges is better?

Bowl #3 – flared out rim

Bowl #4 – an even wider flared out rim

Bowl #5 – combined flared rim and four fluted points

Bowl #6 – two indents… with the intention of adding a basket handle over the top from indent-to-indent.

Bowl #7 – a split-rim… pinched back together in eight places.

Bowl #8 – a split-rim with four indents to make it kind of like a quadrefoil shape

Bowl #9 – another split-rim with four INdents & four OUTdents.. giving it kind of a lotus shape!

Then we switched our focus to colored slips… again with the plan of just showing them some “quick tricks” and encouraging them to play & try more things!

Bowl #10 – a full coating of white slip inside with a paintbrush spiral

Bowl #11 – a fuill layer of white slip with a wooden tool dragged through it while the wheel was turning to reveal the darkness of the clay as a spiral.

Bowl #12 – finger-painting a squiggle through the white slip while the wheel is spinning.

Bowl #13 – rhythmic chattering with a plastic rib through the white slip while the wheel is spinning.

Bowl #14 – a full coating of white slip, the vertical lines dragged through with a rubber rib, and then the center re-applied & smoothed out with just the cutest little spiral ever!

Bowl #15 – I introduced using two colors of slip with simple banding.

Bowl #16 – and then an ombre blending, with a spiral dragged through.

So for now they’re under plastic so they don’t dry out too quickly… as there’s a “good chance” that there just “might” be a bit of stamping, texturing & embellishing of these bowls before the dry too much.

MORE IS MORE!!!… right???

Categories: handbuilding, lillstreet, summer camp, wheelthrowing

This week was a combination of Wheelthrowing & Handbuilding. We work on wheelthrowing for the first couple days, and then switch to handbuilding on Thursday. Friday is reserved for glazing of their wheelthrown pieces, as well as finishing & slip painting of their handbuilt pieces.

But first… it’s the messy fun of WHEELTHROWING!!!
And many of them are excited to finally have a chance… as they need to be at least 8-years old to take a Wheelthrowing Camp at Lillstreet. Some of them have “waited” to be old enough to come take the wheel for a spin!

And then on Tuesday after camp… THIS happened…
This year all of our campers’ tools & clay were stored separately in Ziplock bags to keep everything safe. And then we roll this cart back & forth to class & storage afterwards. Imagine my surprise as I was turning the corner after camp… and three of the wheels popped off the cart!!! Good grief. Always something exciting to keep you on your toes!

On Thursday, we switched to handbuilding… so we had to have separate & dedicated slip containers for each camper so there would be no “sharing” of tools to contaminate anything. Luckily, I had a camper “volunteer” to fill the containers with slip for me!

So we worked all day Thursday making handbuilt dinnerware pieces & parts. A lot of making slabs by hand, draping them into Chinet plates as molds… and then “maybe”… just “maybe” a little of my stamping addiction may have rubbed off on them?!

Then on Friday they started painting their dinnerware sets with colored slips as they would be glazed with clear glaze the week after camp by one of our Lillstreet Monitors.

And as always… I keep encouraging the kids to do their fair share of the clean-up. And if that includes pushing all of the reclaim clay scraps through the grid, and then wiping it off, so be it. Someone’s got to do it, right?!

Categories: process, production, terra cotta, wheelthrowing

Throwing some quick rounded cylinders that will “grow” into pumpkins as they move through the process! I made a few different sizes… including some smaller ones, as smaller is sometimes cuter! And who doesn’t like a “cute” pumpkin???

Categories: lillstreet, summer camp, wheelthrowing

So now we’re two weeks into the Fall Session of classes at Lillstreet… but I’m still not over Summer!!! Nor am I over the fun we had a Summer Camp this year. Sure, it was a little “different” for all of us to keep everyone safe, masked & socially-distant. But still… it was just a little bit of “normal” that just made me happy every day! I mean, who doesn’t love working with kids, teaching life lessons & making art every day?!

So… every day this coming week I’ll be featuring another week of Summer Camp 2020! Get ready for a week full of Summer Camp Flashbacks… so much fun!