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Review of Clay: A Studio Handbook by Vince Pitelka


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#1 Marian65

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 03:03 PM

I recently ordered this book from Ceramic Arts Daily. I'm not sure where else to post the review, but I would like other potential buyers to read my comments.

When my copy of this book arrived and I first thumbed through it I was a little discouraged because I saw that it contained much the same information as my existing library of pottery books. However, after I sat down with it I discovered in the first couple minutes that it is the most comprehensive and informative pottery book I own. Mr. Pitelka goes into detail about so many aspects of the pottery studio that most of the other books only touch on, it's almost like having a more experienced friend available to answer questions when you run across a problem. He uses language that everyone should be able to understand. I'm not a professional and don't have a college degree as a ceramist, but I have many years of experience. Now that I am filling my retirement years with producing pottery for local markets, I see the value of having had this book for reference a long time ago. Whether you're starting out or well into your exploration of clay, I think this should be the primary book in your library of reference material.

I usually look at the pictures in my other pottery books rather than reading the text because there seems to be the same thread of information. I've read all the parts of this handbook that pertain to me two or three times and then explored some of the sections in which I have no experience or need, just because there may be some comments that are pertinent.

I think this is a reference that you'll not keep pristine on the shelf, but stain it with food crumbs, beverages, and muddy finger prints, and capture pet hair between the pages. Use it as it was meant to be used and refer to it as much as you need to. Oh, and he offers us alternatives to buying a lot of tools and things from commercial suppliers, giving us tips, suggestions, and instructions on how we can build/make our own whatevers. It's quite obvious that a lot of thought and good communication went into the production of this volume of experience.
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#2 46South

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 05:28 PM

I recently ordered this book from Ceramic Arts Daily. I'm not sure where else to post the review, but I would like other potential buyers to read my comments.

When my copy of this book arrived and I first thumbed through it I was a little discouraged because I saw that it contained much the same information as my existing library of pottery books. However, after I sat down with it I discovered in the first couple minutes that it is the most comprehensive and informative pottery book I own. Mr. Pitelka goes into detail about so many aspects of the pottery studio that most of the other books only touch on, it's almost like having a more experienced friend available to answer questions when you run across a problem. He uses language that everyone should be able to understand. I'm not a professional and don't have a college degree as a ceramist, but I have many years of experience. Now that I am filling my retirement years with producing pottery for local markets, I see the value of having had this book for reference a long time ago. Whether you're starting out or well into your exploration of clay, I think this should be the primary book in your library of reference material.

I usually look at the pictures in my other pottery books rather than reading the text because there seems to be the same thread of information. I've read all the parts of this handbook that pertain to me two or three times and then explored some of the sections in which I have no experience or need, just because there may be some comments that are pertinent.

I think this is a reference that you'll not keep pristine on the shelf, but stain it with food crumbs, beverages, and muddy finger prints, and capture pet hair between the pages. Use it as it was meant to be used and refer to it as much as you need to. Oh, and he offers us alternatives to buying a lot of tools and things from commercial suppliers, giving us tips, suggestions, and instructions on how we can build/make our own whatevers. It's quite obvious that a lot of thought and good communication went into the production of this volume of experience.


Ha Newbie, you beat me to it!
Like you I am an 'older' potter. While having just a few years at potting, I have an administrative backgorund so appreciate a well written and laid out book.
When my book arrived, I was mildly disappointed as it looks a little unassuming and ho-hum until you really need some particular information. I have previously had mixed results (pun intended) making terra sigilatta but followed the seemingly pedantic instructions to the letter and am now feeling empowered to do many other things as the results are terrific.
This book is the one that a beginning potter could use for a whole career. I am shifting house soon and am planning my new studio with much more confidence and certainty then before. All the suggestions are backed up with sound logic and a great deal of thought. Like you I appreciate the section on making your own tools and improvising. A man after my own heart!
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#3 bciskepottery

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 05:58 PM

There is also a wealth of information on Vince's website: http://iweb.tntech.edu/wpitelka/

Vince's book was one of the first I bought when starting out in pottery.




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