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

Last night I finished off the latest batch of mugs with some final accents & detailing with colored flashing slips. So now they’re drying before they go into a bisque kiln… and then glazed… and then into the soda kiln where these flashing slips will change colors as they get hit with the flames & the soda atmosphere!

Categories: classes, process, production

After class last night, I happened to see two of my THROWDOWN students working on feverishly on their homework project in another classroom. I tried my best not to peek… not to see… not to get a glimpse… I tried, really I did... but I LOVED this pile of orange masking tape that Jacob was using to help with his detailed underglaze applications. Okay, I will say this… from what I “didn’t see”… these two projects are going to be AMAZING!!!

Can’t wait to see them “finished” tomorrow night in class!
Because I didn’t see them yet… much… maybe… okay, just a little… how could I not?…

Categories: bowls, classes

Okay, so I’ve been trying my best to follow the new “standardized & mandated” syllabus for all Beginning & Advanced Beginning Classes at Lillstreet. So we did the demo for throwing a taller cylinder as listed.

And then we were also supposed to introduce colored slip as a decorative technique.
Maybe the assumption was that we would slip paint the demo cylinder???…
but I think it makes a lot more sense to demo some fun, quick tricks inside bowls.
But with bowls now being the Week One demo… I guess my big “Bowls On Purpose” and multiple rims & decorative techniques demo doesn’t quite fit the new syllabus???!

So I scaled it back a bit… only eight bowls with some slip techniques as “mandated”…
and a couple rim techniques as requested by my students! Which is a shame, because I’ve always thought that demo was one of my best ever… and my students were always WOW’ed by it!!! Hope they liked the shorter, smaller, scaled back version too?!

Bowl A – A simple flared flange rim.. with a thin layer of white slip.

And then there were a couple requests from students who have seen “the full” bowl demo before… and they asked if I could do the split rim bowls again.

And who am I to say “NO”?… even if it’s NOT on the “standardized syllabus?

Bowl B – Ashley’s requested split rim bowl with some quick pinches back together!

Bowl C – Another split rim fluted in and flared out…
kind of a lotus “squared off” bowl as requested by Michelle.

So then I got back on track… and back to the slip demo as “prescribed” by the syllabus..

Bowl D – I was going to paint on a full layer of white slip on the interior… but once I put that one first paintbrush swoosh…. we all kinda liked it and decided we should leave it there! So NOT my normal style, but they all voted to keep it this way! Especially because of that one “perfect” round drop!

Bowl E – This time I did fill the interior with thick white slip,a nd then dragged the rounded end of my wooden knife through the slip as the wheel was spinning… ‘cuz everyone loves a good spiral.

Bowl F – Another bowl covered with a layer of thick white slip…
and then squiggled & wiggled through with my fingertip!

Bowl G – After a layer of thick white slip again, I used a rounded rubber rib for some rhythmic chattering trough as the bowl was spinning.

Bowl H – Another student request… “Can you mix or blend two colors?”… so we did!
A nice ombre blend of white to black… and then a squiggle spiral through it.

After class I brought them all up to my studio and put them under plastic. I want to keep them soft… because there may just be a little stamping & detailing to be done to them still before trimming. Maybe?… Hypothetically?…



Categories: mugs, process, production

Celebrating another Mugshot Monday by making another batch of MUGS!!!
All assembled tonight… for tomorrow they’ll get some colored flashing slip accents painted on!

Categories: mugs, process, production

Pulling handles… and loving the shadows!!!

Categories: mugs, process, production, stamped, stamps, textures

So I spent part of the day today stamping my latest batch of cylinders destined to become MUGS!!! You know they’re my favorite thing to make… and my “default” if I don’t have a real plan going into the studio! So it was a good day… lots of stamping… lots of patterns… lots of FUN!!!

And making it a little “extra” fun… these are the first cylinders that I’ve stamped using the new batch of stamps I made a couple weeks ago! It’s always fun to see what patterns they actually make after bisque firing… both as single stamps, as well as in multiple repetitions!

Mug A

Mug B

Mug C

Mug D

Mug E

Mug F

Mug G

Mug H

Mug I

Mug J

Mug K

Mug L

Mug K

And for now they’re all under wraps for the night. I hope to get them trimmed tomorrow… and quite possible get some handles on them too!!!

Categories: pottery, television, YouTube

So it was Week Four in The Middleport Pottery…
this time tackling slip casting & a wonderful wheelthrowing challenge that none of them saw coming! Another great episode on THE GREAT POTTERY THROW DOWN.

Click here to watch episode four on YouTube!

And here’s a “hint” of what they didn’t see coming…
always a fun game to play with my students both adults & kids at camp!!!

Categories: bike, sunrise

After nearly two weeks of completely gray skies, it was wonderful this morning to finally see the sun… even if it was just a start as the clouds seemed to be moving in… and winning!

Categories: classes, inspiration

So far the LILLSTREET THROWDOWN has been mostly focused on wheelthrowing projects… but this week it took a turn into handbuilding!!! To ease our way in, we started with a few smaller challenges!

The were challenged to cut-off two “perfect” one-pound balls of clay. They could not use a scale, just their gut for weighing them blindly. Tougher than it sounds. After they each “thought” they had the one-pound balls… we went to actually weight hem with a digital scale! For most of them, they over-estimated the amount of clay. But we had two people who were shockingly spot-on!!! Tracy & Jacob were a tiny but under on one ball, and an equally tiny bit over on the other ball of clay… evening out to two “perfect” balls when averaged out.

The next challenge was to take those one-pound balls of clay and do a bit of coil-rolling. Some of my students had surprisingly never really rolled coils, so I did a quick demo for them. They then rolled coils trying to get them as long as they could in three minutes. The catch was, that if their coil broke at any point they could not put it back together… and their challenge was over as we would measure their longest segment. We had four “winners” in this challenge… one from each table… with Jacob, Taylor, Stacey & Dana. But they weren’t done yet…

The four “semi-finalists” carried on for another coil challenge! This time we doubled the amount of clay, and doubled the amount of time… and cut the number of hands in half!!! Yes, they could only use ONE HAND to roll the longest single coil that they could in six minutes!

But it was Dana who literally “rolled over” her competition…
and practically took over the entire table with her one-handed coil.

After coiling, we moved on to slab throwing. Again, we started with a quick demo… and then they started pulling their slabs. No slab rollers. No rolling pins. Just throwing them by hand!!! The goal was to get the largest continuous rectangle of clay… no folding over edges, no patching of holes, no fixing of tears… just one big solid rectangle.

After they pulled the clay as far as they thought they could,
I trimmed off the raggedy edges to reveal their inner-rectangle for measuring!

So now that they’ve warmed-up their handbuilding skills… it was time to give heir their next THROWDOWN CHALLENGE… and their first handbuilding challenge!!! For next week’s class, they need to construct a handbuilt flower brick. Keeping in mind their structure, stability, functionality and creativity! I showed them some examples of various flower bricks to inspire & get their creative juices flowing… and I also offered up my STODOLA textured rolling pins in case they wanted to use them?!

I can’ t wait to see what they come up with for our next class!


Categories: classes, pottery, stamped, textures

This week in my LILLSTREET THROWDOWN class, they brought back their “dice-decorated” maquette cylinders along with the taller vases they made using the first piece as inspiration. The second part of the challenge was that it had to be a minimum of nine-inches tall. It was great to see how they each “embraced” the challenge both using the single die to decorated the cylinder, but then again to decorate the larger piece. The “spirit” of the challenge was to use that “one dice-one tool” concept for the larger vase once again… and to use the design concept from the first maquette cylinder to create a beautiful larger vase.

Dice-decorated maquette and “inspired” vase by Jen

Dice-decorated maquette and “inspired” vase by Molly

Dice-decorated maquette and “inspired” vase by Norah

Dice-decorated maquette and “inspired” vase by Taylor

Dice-decorated maquette and “inspired” vase by Tracy

Dice-decorated maquette and “inspired” vase by Christine

Dice-decorated maquette and “inspired” vase by Helen

Dice-decorated maquette and “inspired” vase by Jacob

Dice-decorated maquette and “inspired” vase by Jen

Dice-decorated maquette and “inspired” vase by Stacey!
This project came in second… mostly for the overly-creative way Stacey worked outside of the box and extrapolated her layered maquette design into a stacked & textured “layer” vase!

And the FIRST PLACE dice-decorated maquette and “inspired” vase by Dana
mostly for sticking with the “pure intention” of the challenge… and for learning & re-designing her vase based on what she liked & disliked about the maquette… as well as the smoothest burnished surface ever!!!