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

Ten bowls by 10:00am!!! Sure, I shoulda been making the terra cotta drip plates… but I kinda slipped on a tangent. But seriously, who doesn’t need some new bowls???

Categories: classes, wheelthrowing

Had a “little” fun last night in class! We started with throwing lidded jars… and then switched to throwing the lids off-the-hump. And then since I had some “extra hump”… we continued and I showed them how to make mini bowls, small bud vases & ornaments too!!!

Categories: handbuilding, mugs, process, production, stamped, textures, wheelthrowing

Doing some trimming on my latest batch of hybrid mugs… making the “wheelthrown” part look even more like a nicely trimmed wheelthrown mug.

Have I mentioned lately how much I LOVE trimming?! It makes such a difference…

Categories: production, wheelthrowing

Just a few disks freshly thrown… a quick & productive morning!

Categories: challenge, classes, wheelthrowing

While I was in St. Louis this week, my LILLSTREET THROWDOWN class went on without me… thanks to my sub Lisa… and my pre-determined wheelthrowing challenges! This week they had to make their own version of a “perfect” seven-inch cylinder! Not realizing until later that they would also have to recreate that same “perfect” vase proportionately at 5-inches tall… and them again at 3-inches tall… and one more time at 9-inches! Looks like they killed it!!!

And I can’t wait to see them next week… when they need to bring back all four vases with “matching” surface decoration using SLIP TRAILING as their primary technique!

Categories: pottery, production, wheelthrowing

And when you make a bunch of flower pots, you also need to make a bunch of water drip trays to go with them!

Categories: pottery, process, production, wheelthrowing

Making a quick batch of flower pots… while looking forward to my “Plants & Pottery Pop-Up” down near Peoria over the third weekend of May! If I play my cards right, I’ll be headed down with a bunch of pottery, as well as some plants to fill them!!!

Categories: bowls, challenge, classes, wheelthrowing

After throwing-off-the-hump, my LILLSTREET THROWDOWN peeps turned their attention from matching mini bowls… to matching serving bowls! They had three pounds for each bowl, and plenty of time to make them as “perfectly matching” as they could. Plenty of time to throw two bowls… plenty of time to throw a replacement bowl or two… plenty of time to overthink things… plenty of time to push too far until they flop!

They all did a great job… but no winner was chosen! As the “real challenge” is to come back to class next week with two perfectly matching & perfectly TRIMMED serving bowls!!!

Categories: classes, wheelthrowing

Last night during my LILLSTREET THROWDOWN class, we started the night with an “off-the-hump” wheelthrowing challenge! They each started with 8-pounds of clay and about 30 minutes to throw as many small dishes as possible “off-the-hump”… which means working off the top of a bigger lump of clay, only centering & working with a small handful each time until the big ball of clay has all been used up. The “big twist” was that the bowls had to be between 3″-4″ at the rim… and only the ones that matched would count!!!

Big kudos to Will who cranked out the most matching bowls during our quick challenge!

Categories: bowls, classes, surface decoration, wheelthrowing

So this week we made bowls again in my Tuesday night Beginning & Adult Beginning Wheelthrowing class. I always like to show them how to make “bowls on purpose” instead of a cylinder gone bad. We talk about getting a nice smooth rounded interior, no flat bottoms, no beginner’s ledge, and a nice rim.

So I start the class with a quick demo on how to make a bowl on purpose… and how to avoid all of those problems! After my demo, they all go back to work on their wheels… while I continue to throw more demo bowls during class. When I’ve thrown all of my bowls, we re-group and then I start doing some fun demos on how to alter & decorate them. I just want to give them new ideas on how to make their bowls more special… and their own. I tell them that the wheel pretty much makes a round bowl for them… but it’s up to them to make it their own!

Bowl #1 – Four simple fluted edges… one finger inside, one outside and flick.

Bowl #2 – And if four fluted edges are good, eight might be better?!

Bowl #3 – A flared out flange edge… kind of folding the top inch out over a stable finger on the outside of the bowl.

Bowl #4 – And if a small flange is nice, maybe a bigger flange is even cooler???

Bowl #5 – A nice split-rim using the point of my wooden knife. Then I dented in two sides… and we decided to leave it this way as I’ll add an “up & over” handle to make it more like a basket.

Bowl #6 – Another split rim… and then pinched back together in eight place.

Bowl #7 – The same split rim technique… this time more of a lotus style. Four inward indents, and four outward to make the squared “lotus” shape.

So after altering a few of the rims, I moved on to introduce them to adding slip as a decorative technique.

Bowl #8 – We started with a thick layer of think white slip. And then I dragged the rounded end of a wooden knife through to create this spiral.

Bowl #9 – Another layer of thick white slip, this time with a fingertip squiggling through while the bowl was spinning on the wheel!

Bowl #10 – Thick white slip with a chattered surface using a stiff rubber rib, rhythmically tapping while the wheel spins to create this pattern.

Bowl #11 – We started with a ombre’ blend of white & iron red slips. It looked nice enough… but more is more... so I dragged my wooden knife through it to make a cool spiral!!!

Bowl #12 – For our final bowl, my friend & fellow Lillstreet teacher Chelsea “made the mistake” of stopping by my classroom at just the right time. I gave her the final demo bowl for her to do something with it. She didn’t hesitate… instead doing this wonderful “organic” squiggle technique reminiscent of her of style!


And for now they’re all in my studio under plastic… waiting for some more detailing! Perhaps a little bit of stamping, detailing, carving or attachments. And then some trimming of the footring on the bottom before I call them done… then dry… then bisque… the glaze… then fire again… then DONE!!!