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

Still staying safe… still social distancing… still trying to get some work done. I’m hoping that when all this craziness passes… people will be flooding to the art fairs to stock-up on some new pottery… and I want to be ready!!! Until then, I’m gonna keep making pots to help keep my own “sanity.” I hope everyone out there is staying safe, staying strong & staying healthy!!!

Categories: classes, wheelthrowing

Towards the end of our final LILLSTREET THROWDOWN class, there was a twist!!! My students had “ganged up on me” and created their own set of challenges & contests for ME!!!… you know how I love a good twist & a good challenge!!!

Starting with blindly weighing clay, and then throwing two pots. You can see that I didn’t do so well on the blind “guessing” of weight. The ball on the bottom was my guess… everything on top of it is how far off I was!!!

First up was the throwing tall challenge… where I had to throw a cylinder over 12-inches tall with the five-pound ball of clay.

When I got the cylinder to the necessary 12-inch height… I decided to cut it in half right there in front of my students to see how even my walls were. I didn’t have a wire tool handy… so I just used the side of the ruler to cut with!

My next challenge was the three-pound ball to throw a bowl… oh yeah, blindfolded!!! I kinda knew that this challenge I did to them would somehow come back to bite me!

Since I had a little extra time left to my challenge, I decide to “show-off” just a little… and try a split rim pinched back together which is one of my standard bowl demo tricks. The split rim worked okay, but the pinching was a bit harder to do while still blindfolded!

And then I had to decorate my bowl with just one tool…
and their choice of tool???… another challenge I had thrown on them earlier in the season… coming back to bite me yet again!

And quite fittingly, for my single decorating tool… an single OREO!!!
So I started by blending my split-rim back together. And then started texturing the rim, and then adding curved lines in the interior!

So much fun! You know how I LOVE a good challenge. And the fact that my students came together and planned this whole “game” in advance… so touching & impressive. All the way down to typing out the challenge instructions & placing them in envelopes for the Big Reveal!

Categories: classes, wheelthrowing

For subbing Lisa’s class, I like to do “demo-on-demand “…
which means I’ll kinda do whatever they want. So today Jeannine requested some bowl finishing tricks, and Julia wanted me to “throw something too tall to put on her class shelf.” Which turns out to be about 12-inches. So I did four quick bowls, threw a tall vase with just four pulls, decorated the bowls… and then chatted & solved all of the problems of the pottery world. As always, a fun class to sub for!!!

Categories: artists, pottery, television, wheelthrowing

Another week of pottery fun on “The Great Pottery Throw Down”
this time very illuminating & illustrative! Plenty of wheelthrowing which I could watch forever… but let’s just say there were some people struggling, some bisque explosions & some poor design choices! Good TV for all !!!

Click here to watch this week’s episode on YouTube!

Categories: process, production, wheelthrowing

Because I prefer a flower pot with a separate water drip plate.

Categories: classes, wheelthrowing

As if throwing mini’s wasn’t fun enough… we also went back to basics with some bowls. So they each wedged up two 3-pound balls of clay to throw a good, large bowl. Two balls of clay = two chances. No wedging up more if they both fail.

They were all set at the wheel… thinking we were ready to go…
when I pulled out another envelope… SURPRISE!!!

I also pulled out some bandanas to use as BLINDFOLDS!!!

So we were still throwing large bowls….
and being judged by a measurement of height plus width!
While blindfolded!!!

They all did a great job… pulling it out in the end. Some were slower & more focused…
while others just jumped into it blindly!!! So to speak… all pun intended.
I do think they had fun throwing blindfolded… I KNOW that I had fun watching them!!!

Categories: classes, wheelthrowing

After watching a recent episode of British TV hit “The Great Pottery Throwdown” where the task was to throw some miniature pots… I knew we had to steal that idea and do it again!!! We tried to keep the challenge the same… where they had to throw three pieces each UNDER SIX CENTIMETERS… yes, we’re keeping it metric!!! So they each had to throw a miniature bowl, cylinder and a bulbous vase with narrowed neck. And to go one step further.. they also needed to add some color to their pots!

Now for some reason… on the television reality show, they didn’t allow them to throw off-the-hump?! I don’t think the topic even came up?.. maybe they don’t do that across the Pond yet? So my students didn’t get to either… finding out how difficult it is to wedge, center and throw such a small ball of clay!

After the 25-minute time limit ended, we did a little critique and measured to check that they all made it UNDER six centimeters!

And then we moved onto the next challenge… which was the same…
but now throwing off-the-hump!!!… and with 5 minutes less since it should be easier!

After the 20-minute time limit ended, we went back to discuss and compare the mini pots. And to discuss how they felt, what was easier, what was tougher, and if throwing off-the-hump made much of a difference!

Categories: classes, wheelthrowing

Just a quick glimpse of some quick cylinders I made for my LILLSTREET THROWDOWN students. They had made “matching” cylinders to turn into mugs last week… this week they’ll get these cylinders to take them in a different direction!

Categories: bowls, classes, wheelthrowing

Last night in our LILLSTREET THOWDOWN class, we started with critiquing the bowls that they had finished after last week’s challenge. Remember, they had each thrown two matching bowls, but then passed one of them down the table to another student to mix it up a bit. The task was to trim & refine both bowls. Fun to see how they each approach the “matching” bowls… and how they’ll inevitably turn out different when finished by different hands.

Congrats to Dana & Tracy for placing & earning points as our Top Two!!!

And while surface decoration was NOT actually part of our challenge parameters…
you know how I LOVE the ones that went just a bit further…. like these four….
because MORE IS MORE!!!

We then started with our throwing challenge for Week Two.
The task was to use 1-1/4 pounds of clay to throw their “most perfect” cylinder… with even wall thickness, straight sides, flat bottom, nice corner inside around the base and a refined rim. They had 10 minutes for that one “perfect” cylinder… so they were all quite focused while throwing!

Once they had that one cylinder done, we regrouped at the table to look at them.
We looked at the technique & results… determining which ones best met the parameters.
I think they all assumed we would be “judging” this cylinder &  awarding points…
but I never quite said that.   Instead…

Part two of the challenge was to take the next hour and throw as many MATCHING cylinders to that first “most perfect one.” I mean… they had “set the standers” by throwing that one “perfect” cylinder, so they should be able to make more, right???

After a very quick hour of throwing… while I ate an entire bag of Garrett Popcorn
we pulled them all together to look at the matching sets of cylinders.
Some more matching than others.

After looking at all of the cylinders… a whopping total of 74 cylinders in one hour!!!…
we critiqued & counted how many “matching” ones they had. We didn’t count the ones that were taller… or the ones that were wider… or the ones that were just different all over the place!

Congratulations to Christine who came away with seven matching cylinders,
and Jacob who came away with six!

And oh, but wait there’s more!
They all got their next homework assignment… to take their favorite Top Four matching cylinders to turn into MATCHING MUGS! They need to trim, finish and add handles to make four matching mugs, And then decorate them too! Sure, they could decorate them however they wanted to… but what fun would that be for me??? Instead, I decided to make the decoration challenge a bit more challenging. So they need to us at least four of the following five design patterns… stripes, polka dots, plaid, paisley and spiral. So they need to incorporate multiple patterns to complete their set… but each mug can’t match and must be stand-alone beautiful on it’s own. A lot of challenges & parameters for this one. It might be a tough week for my homework-bound students. Can’t wait to see what they bring back to class next Thursday night!




Categories: classes, lillstreet, wheelthrowing

So fun to be back from the holidays… and kicking off a new session of pottery classes! My Beginning Wheelthrowing class started last night with some returning faces, a good number of newbies and a lot of enthusiasm!!!… oh yeah, and some OREOs too!!!