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QotW:Where do you obtain ceramics related information for insights

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Magnolia Mud posted a question very recently, actually quite a few questions, but this one seemed to be one not asked yet: Where do you go to obtain more information (and/or background) on ceramic related topics, ideas, suggestions, insights, or questions you pick up from colleagues, general reading, online forums, in casual discussion, or your own pondering? 


This strikes at the heart of why I am involved as a moderator and a contributor on the forum here. For years, there was no internet. . . yeah I'm that old.  Local libraries put their budget into things that would get the biggest audience. . . usually fiction. Magazine subscriptions were available, but in specialty mags you know that they can be expensive. Books were the biggest source of my information in the 70's to the late 80's. I searched local bookstores, went to Penn State for the textbooks used in the art department at the student bookstore, checked with professors about what books to read, and get and then ordered them in. Over the years, I developed a pretty nice library of which you have seen many in the Potters Quiz of the Week. Then came the internet, and the world changed. It was a safe place in the early years, kind of elitist to be on it, and yet so much specialty information existed and forums popped up with discussions on all sorts of things several devoted to Ceramics. They came and went, and evolved. Some became fractured by argumentation, others died from lack of interest of lack of participation.  Happy to say that our has not gone and seems relatively healthy.

For me though, obtaining more information often calls for specialization, as in glazes chemistry, or firing techniques or some other area. Often this leads me to a thinking period (gestation) where the material is sifted and rethought to come to my own conclusions. Forms are usually that way, techniques with texture and decoration in the bare clay, and on the glazed surface. Much of it is a reformulation of old stuff, and new stuff, and Preston stuff.





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As a beginner, I have taken classes to get started and also use books as very central resources. Right now I am reading two, one about throwing and another about techniques in Japanese ceramics.

While I do watch youtubes some, I have found taking a class live to be a much more effective way to learn to throw, as the teacher could, for example, watch me to tell me what flaws she noticed in what I was doing.

I read articles on this site and read the various threads and lurked for almost two years before making my first post.

I do ask questions of potters and other artists I see at art fairs, study pots I see through glass at the museum, and buy some pottery in order to examine it closely and frequently.

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I am a hands on or visual learner, so books that don't have a ton of photo's don't really help me much, initially I would have to watch someone else do something then try it myself.   YouTube has been a godsend to me more so than any other part of the internet.  Someone can describe a way of doing something that is total BS, but if they can do it in a video, and I can see it actually work I can usually figure out some way to do it myself.  Likewise, when they show something that is just useless, I know right away not to try it that way as opposed to my  reading something that was wrong from the start and then wasting time trying to understand what they are writing about and why I can't get it to work the way they say it should.

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I am also a visual learner,  I was partially deaf when I was very young and learned how to speak  by watching people talk.  My hearing was fixed when I was 4 years old but by then my brain had been wired to be a visual learner.   When I was in college I had to write down everything the professor said because I had to actually see the words.   When I read a book I take notes on parts that I want to remember.    You might try this approach and see it it works for you.   I was a okay student in high school but once I figured out how I learned I made straight A's in college.     Denice

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1. The forums here. For example I don't think I could survive the kiln buying and installing, let alone learning curve for using it, if I didn't have a resource like this. 

2. Youtube: I really do find that a (moving) picture is worth a thousand words and stimulates my interest and creative flow. I especially enjoy pottery making current and past in other cultures. Mid century Fat Lava to pit fired South African, makes me feel like I'm part of something important and close to the Earth. 

4. Etsy: partly because I would like to open and manage my own shop there, but cruising all the items and makers stimulates ideas of the "I could do that" type. 

5. Georgie's catalog and other ceramic supply houses' websites: For example I like surfing through the glaze section wondering what I could do with this or that glaze, how it's used, can I use it? what is it made from, etc. 

6. Two college classes: Because negative examples can also be useful if you recognize them as such. 

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