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Chris Campbell

Let's list our MUST HAVE Pottery Books

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In a previous post Dinah mentioned the importance of having a solid reference library of pottery books. I would imagine this would range from the basic how to books to the glorious ... let's share our lists of must have books.

 

I'll go first ....

 

Best ever reference books...

"Clay, a studio handbook" by Vince Pitelka.

"Ceramics, Mastering the Craft" by Richard Zakin

"Illustrated Dictionary of Practical Pottery" by Robert Fournier

 

Ceramic Surface ...

"Making Marks" by Robin Hopper

 

Glazing ...

"Mastering Cone 6 Glazes" by Hesselberth & Roy

 

Personal Favs for my own work ...

"Color in Clay" By Jane Waller

"Porcelain and Bone China" by Sasha Wardell

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Too many to list, it's like asking me to list my musical preferences. I learn a little something from almost every book on ceramics that I read.

Ahem, however,

 

Kingery, Bowman, Uhlman (1976) Introduction to Ceramics Wiley Interscience

Hesselberth, Roy (2002) Mastering cone six glazes Glaze MAster Press

Davis (1987) The Potter's Alternative Chilton Press

Lane (2002) Ceramic Form Rizzoli International

Watkins, Wandless (2004) Alternative Kilns and firing Techniques Lark Books

Perryman (2004) Naked Clay A & C Black

Perryman (2008) Smoke Firing A & C Black

Barbaformosa (1999) The Potter's Wheel Barron's

 

This last book is really an odd but interesting bird, it contains some techniques and forms that are not usually seen in an introductory book, at the end of the book it is more intermediate/advanced, as I know from experience. I wish more books would do this, instead of the usual litany of "how to wedge, how to center, how to open, how to throw a cylinder, a bowl, etc". It was originally written in Spanish and translated, so some of the translations are a little stilted, but it really fires my imagination. Kinda hard to find, but inexpensive if you do ($5?).

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For potters who like to make pots that function:

 

Functional Pottery, Robbin Hopper (2nd ed. 2000)

 

And, while I wasn't impressed enough to say that I'd put it on a must read list, if your a beginner to clay (like me) and are tempted by current lineup of the Barron's educational series, start with Barron's 250 Tips, Techniques, and Trade Secrets for Potters - it has the projects from many of the other books from the same publisher, so, it's like buying three or four books.

 

 

 

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There are too many to name. I remember my first semester of pottery making, I read every book my school library had on pottery making of any method, clay, technique, and history. I went to the public library and did the same thing. I could not get enough of the information. I am still the same way. I will recommend to any one go to the library and just start where the catalog starts. You are bound to learn from any book you pick up to read about pottery, ceramics and clay.

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Great Question-Most book mentioned above I have and use, some in older editions. I have also found:

 

Practical Solutions for Potters-Gill Bliss, Electric Kiln Ceramics-Richard Zakin, and The Craft and Art of Clay-Susan Peterson

 

to be very helpful at times. I also keep old volumes of clay times, CM, Pottery Illustrated, and others around for lounge reading. Some day I hope to get all of the books together in one or two bookcases so that they are easier to access. Just too many for one place right now-building a library this winter!

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My apologies, I did not realize this topic was already started when I posted in the

Studio forum.

 

At present I am reading The first of the stack is 'Basic Pottery Making - All the skills and tools you

need to get started - Linda Franz. I can't stop looking in this one! For a beginner, the numerous

photos are great when a beginner like myself has never done much more than school projects.

I've played extensively in polymer clay, but that doesn't count too much compared to earth clay

on a pottery wheel.

 

I've only perused to page 34 and am already excited about making a bowl,

though I realize that is quite a bit down the road.

 

Other titles picked up: (I'll amend this page as I go to give my two cents on each book, LOL)

 

HAND BUILDING - Ceramics for beginners - Shay Amber

 

PRACTICAL GUIDE TO POTTERY - Colin Gerard

 

INTRODUCTION TO POTTERY - A step-by-step project book - Linde Wallner

 

HANDBUILT CERAMICS - Pinching, coiling, extruding, molding, slip casting, slab work - Kathy Triplett

 

THE CERAMIC GLAZE HANDBOOK - Materials, techniques, formulas - Mark Burleson

 

EXPLORING ELECTRIC KILN TECHNIQUES - A collection of articles from Ceramics Monthly - Sumi von Dassow

 

BUILDING YOUR OWN KILN - 3 Japanese potters give advice and instructions - Hiromi Itabashi, Roppo Tamura, Naoki Kawabuchi

 

ALTERNATIVE KILNS & FIRING TECHNIQUES - Raku, saggar, pit, barrel - James C. Watkins, Paul Andrew Wandless

 

CLAY: HAND BUILDING - Maurice Sapiro

 

 

:) Do you have any favorites? Any memorable books that stick with you, or were more

helpful than others?

 

 

 

Karen

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Pioneer Pottery - Michael Cardew

The Kiln Book - Frederick Olsen

 

 

 

A book I think lacks severely that I purchased on request of an instructor is "The Complete Potter's Companion" Tony Birks. This book is incomplete, leaving the potter who doesn't know otherwise to think this might be all there is to know about ceramics. What is listed in this book can be referenced in many other books that are at least more complete than this book. I'll give it credit for it's great pictures, but in reviewing the information contained with in, it's flat out lying by calling itself "The Complete Potter's Companion"

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A book I think lacks severely that I purchased on request of an instructor is "The Complete Potter's Companion" Tony Birks. This book is incomplete, leaving the potter who doesn't know otherwise to think this might be all there is to know about ceramics. What is listed in this book can be referenced in many other books that are at least more complete than this book. I'll give it credit for it's great pictures, but in reviewing the information contained with in, it's flat out lying by calling itself "The Complete Potter's Companion"

 

 

i mistrust any book that claims to be "complete". there are a lot of them out there in ceramics. why would an author ever purport to be able to distill something as complex as an entire artistic discipline down into 50 or 100 pages? those books are generally very superficial, and don't in any way do justice to the world of ceramics.

 

anyways, my three must-have books are:

the Hamer and Hamer Dictionary of Materials and Techniques

Ceramic Science for the Potter by Lawrence

Vall Cushing's Handbook

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I started with the Potter's Book by Bernard Leach back in 1968.

Pioneer Pottery by Michael Cardew

Good intro book, Ceramics by Nelson

After 40+ years I have an extensive library...now some favorites are

The Three Books of the Potter by Piccolpasso

Bernard Pallissy biography

Mastering ^6 glazes is a great book for understanding glaze composition and firing

Steve Branfman's raku books

Alternative Firing by Watkins and Wandless

Many Robin Hopper Books,

Lana Wilson's book for glazing of the right side of the brain. I love her approach to glazing.

There are many more...the Anthologies from Acers is a good series

 

Marcia

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Thought I'd offer a quick review of what I'm currently reading.

 

I just got a couple of books from Amazon and am half way through the first one, "The Basics of Throwing, A Practical Approach to Form and Design." This is a beginners book and not an end all reference book. It was published in 2008 and is written by a British author, so some of the words are spelled differently than in the US and measurements are provided in US and Metrics, but these things are not an issue. It's loaded with photos and is pretty much coherent. The centering position is different than what I was taught, but the photos and info on design and focal points of the piece are worth the money for me. It really has me thinking about these things as a beginner potter and can't wait for the weekend to give it a try!

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The Potter's Studio

Clay &

Glaze

Handbook

 

Jeff Zamek

 

 

This is a great book for several reasons, but chiefly because it explains clearly many faults, defects and problems that are common and often misunderstood. It also explains ways of stopping the problems as well, which is key especially to the beginner studio potter going it on their own.

 

Another great aspect of this book is the explanation of glazes and clays including processing and materials. It explains some things about materials that I've not found in other books. The diagrams and pictures are exceptional, and the explanations are superb. I checked this book out from my local library recently and have resolved to buy it as a reference book for my studio.

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Here are some favorites that come to mind:

 

I personally love the Lark 500 series books

A Potter's Workbook by Clary Illian

Low-firing and Burnishing by Sumi von Dassow

THe Complete Guide to High Fire Glazes by John Britt

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John Britt's glaze book is currently tops on my list. Now I do wish he would write an equally wonderful book for cone 6 electric. It would change the world.

 

My first pottery book was Elsbeth Woody's POTTERY ON THE WHEEL, from which I learned to throw. I would read a section and close my eyes and imagine myself doing it over and over before I got on the wheel to practice it. That book is responsible for me sticking with pottery at all, since the classroom instruction I was taking at the time was severely lacking. I have a lot of pottery books in my library now, but that is one I still cherish.

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Guest JBaymore

Hum........ REALLY tough.  Ones that jump out fast.......

 

"A Potters Book"  -Leach

"Pioneer Pottery" -Cardew

"The Potter's Alternative"  - Davis

"A Potters Dictionary of Materials and Techniques"  -Hammar + Hammar

"Clay and Glazes for the Potter"  -Rhodes

"Mastering Cone 6 Glazes"  -Hesselberth and Roy

"Ceramic Science"  - Lawrence

"The Kiln Book"  -Olsen

"Raku; A Practical Approach"  -Branfman

"The Unknown Craftsman"   -Yanagi

"Hamada: Potter"  -Leach

"The Road Through Miyama"  -Phillip

"Handmade Culture: Raku Potters, Patrons, and Tea Practitioners in Japan"  -Pitelka

"Art and Fear"  - Bayles

"Ariist Beware"  -McCann

"Keeping Claywork Safe and Legal"  - Rossol

 

best,

 

.................john

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My library is by default my "must haves", tho I may divest myself of some this summer, per my current mood to do more with less and lighten up on "stuff" taking up space. So, old and new, be they sentimental, envy,and/or practical, I have:

 

Clay and Glazes for the Potter-Rhodes

Ceramic Science for the Potter-Lawrence

Ceramics: A Potters Handbook-Nelson

Clay: A Studio Handbook-Pitelka

Centering-Richards (don't care for her writing-it was a gift)

The Remarkable Potters of Seagrove-Brown

The Complete Book of High Fire Glazes-Britt

The Penland School of Crafts: Book of Pottery

The Road Through Miyama-Phillip 

Robin Hopper Ceramics-Hopper

Surface Design for Ceramics-Mills

Artist Beware-McCann

Mastering Raku-Branfman

Ceramic Art: Commentary and Review 1882-1977-Clark

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I'm still building my essential pottery books so went to my local library Monday to see what they had per suggestions here.  I found a great book on mold building ... so far other texts I had read were very confusing.  Started reading/paging through when I got home ... Andrew's instructions are clear and since it's a Lark Ceramics book the pictures are great.  I ordered it from Amazon last night.

 

The Essential Guide to Mold Making & Slip Casting (A Lark Ceramics Book)
Martin, Andrew

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