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

Sure, the holidays SEEM far away… but it’s always fun
to make a few ornaments & mini’s on a wet & soggy rainy day!

Plus, there’s only 308 days until Christmas!!! Giddy-up!!!

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Categories: clay, pottery, process, production, wheelthrowing

Wedged balls of clay…

So much potential in each one. Especially when starting up studio production again.
I’ve been looking at my calendar trying to schedule art fairs, summer camps, bike rides, races and more!!! And a slight wave of panic washed over me… so it’s back in the studio! Full steam ahead!!!

Categories: bowls, classes, production, wheelthrowing

My class Tuesday night was great fun… and always my favorite demo of the session. My new beginners have nbeen working on their centering & throwing skills on cylinders. And of course they’ve “found” a few bowls along the way. Well this week we focused on throwing a good bowl on purpose instead of a cylinder gone bad.

So the way the demo goes is I first sit down to tshow them out to make the basic bowl with a nice rounded interior. No beginner bulges here! After the demo & questions, I set them free to go make their own bowls…. while I continue to throw a full bag of clay into bowls! Once all sixteen bowls were thrown, we re-grouped at my wheel to do some quick tricks & techniques for altering the bowls. I’m a big fan of putting your own twist or design on a bowl… instead of just leaving it round. Anyone can do that. So here are the sixteen tricks I showed the,….

Bowl 1 – a simple bowl with four fluted points and a nice spiral in the bottom.

Bowl 2 – And if four fluted spots are good, maybe eight would be better?

Bowl 3 – Then we flared out the rim to create a nice flanged rim. A perfect sot to do some decorating later. Carving, stamping, slip, glazing, whatever… you now have a nice “canvas” there on the rim.

Bowl 4 – And if “some” flange is good… “more” flange might be better???

Bowl 5 – And then we combined the fluted rim with the flared flange rim.

Bowl 6 – A simple texture pressed into the bottom with a metal dragonscaling tool.

Bowl 7 – And who says bowls need to stay round?… not me…
as we dented in four points to make a clover-ish shape.

Bowl 8 – Next we decided to split the rim with the point of a wooden knife. I then pinched it into four even spaces… and then two more on opposite sides. They all loved that… but the gasps were audible when I stretched it out of shape to an oval. I don’t think they like this one too much…. but I’m sure they’ll come around when they see it with a strap handle to turn it more into a basket later.

Bowl 9 – Again with the split rim, this time four flares out and four flares in…
denting it with the curved side of my wooden knife.

Bowl 10 – Next I introduced them to colored slip. And showed them how easily they can create a two-tone pot faster & cleaner with slip than they would be able to with two buckets of glaze. This is a simple black slip… which I believe I’ll be carving into for a little sgrafitto demo next week.

Bowl 11 – For this one I coated the interior with a thick white slip, and then dragged the rounded end of my wooden knife through to reveal the clay color while the bowl was turning on the wheel.

Bowl 12 – The same coating of thick white slip inside the bowl… but this time some squiggly finger-painting & dragging through the bowl while it was spinning.

Bowl 13 – Again with the thick white slip interior, this time chattered with a rhythmic tapping of my green rubber rib… up & down through the slip, and out towards the rim as the bowl is sinning. This design is slightly different every time based on the speed of your tapping and the speed of the wheel rotating.

Bowl 14 – A simple spiral of black slip as squirted from a small bottle… and a small fluted edge using the side of a medium Sharpie marker!!!

Bowl 15 – A simple lesson on how easy it is to make bands of color… just hold the paint brush still and spin the wheel. My guess is that these bands of green slip will be carved through at some point.

Bowl 16 – An ombre blend of white to green slip… and I’m loving the tight spiral of thick slip in the bottom of the bowl.

So for now… all sixteen bowls are up in my studio under plastic. I’m “pretty sure” that there will be some stamping, decorating & refining of these before I get around to trimming. Just a hunch.

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Categories: classes, lillstreet, wheelthrowing

After the bowl challenge, my Lillstreet Throwdown students moved on to matching cylinders. So they had five minutes to throw their own “perfect” cylinder. They thought that was it… but after setting their own standard, the “real” challenge was announced. They had an hour to throw as many matching cylinders to their own “perfect” prototype!

When that hour ended, they got points for the ones that matched, and the ones that didn’t match… SQUISH!!!

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Categories: friends, studio, wheelthrowing

Did a bit of “touch-up” on some of my friend’s wheelthrown pots!
They were all brand new beginners that stopped by my studio one night last week for a “quick” visit. I think they expected it to be a little sightseeing tour of the studio… but I quickly turned it on them by telling them that “pottery is NOT a spectator sport.” They rolled up their sleeves and threw a few pots… okay, so I made a few demo pots as well. So now they’re drying in my studio, waiting to be bisqued… and then I need to glaze them all with the correct pre-specified glaze choice for each pot!!! Oye-veh!

Categories: family, friends, pottery, studio, wheelthrowing

So much fun last night with the Krenz clan playing with the clay & getting all muddy at the studio last night. As always, some were better than others… but all of them had a great time!

Suddenly not as easy as it looks…

“Maybe if I watch him doing it… it might make more sense?”

Uh… Kel’s bowl is flopping… save it… save it…

But it looks “someone” found the Mystery OREO’s a bit more enticing than throwing on the wheel.

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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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