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Ceramics books for a newbie

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Dear all,

I am very happy to have found this forum. It has been the best resource  I have found. I  am truly amazed by how generous several of you are with your time and knowledge contributing here. 

Besides this forum and the "Youtube University" , would you have any recommendations for essential books that I should read/study?

These are the one I am studying so far:

The Workshop Guide to Ceramics by Duncan Hooson and Anthony Quinn 

Amazing Glaze by Gabriel Kline

and Mastering the Potter's Wheel by Ben Carter

Thank you so much!





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“A Potter’s Workbook” by Clary Illian is an excellent resource to get you thinking about form.You can apply the same principles to handbuilding. 

It can be expensive so do shop around for it, but “A Potter’s Dictionary” by Hamer and Hamer is a book I wish I’d bought a LOT sooner.

Edited to add: any time you can take an in-person workshop, it’s usually worth it. You’ll get more from in person instruction than you can from books or videos.

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@Lucia MatosI would also recommend any of the Robin Hopper books, I especially like Making  Marks. I also like the Simon Leach Book Potters Handbook. Over the years I have owned several ceramics books, and still own enough to fill several shelves in my library. I never get tired of them and always pull them out when wondering about something. Oh that reminds me The Potters Dictionary is also a good book on many things and covers a lot of historic forms.




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Another one that I'ld add to the list would be Clay: A Studio Handbook by Vince Pitelka. There is also a lot of good information on Pitelka's website, he is very generous in sharing much of his teaching material (under the heading Documents and Handouts on his site).

58 minutes ago, Lucia Matos said:

...and the "Youtube University"...

There is some good stuff for sure from Youtube but there is also a fair amount of well intended but perhaps not so great videos there. Some that others on the forum have recommended here.

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my first and second choices:
#1 "The Craft and Art of Clay" by Susan Peterson; any after edition 2.  
#2 "Hands in Clay" by Charlotte Speight & John Toki; I have edition 5, any are good art ceramics. 
For sound science: the engineering textbook "Introduction to Ceramics" by Kingery, Bowen, Uhlmann; second edition.  


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  • 2 months later...

@Callie Beller Diesel@Pres @Chilly @Magnolia Mud Research @MinThank you for all of your great suggestions! I was able to get a hold of most of the suggestions and start studying them during these summer months. It has been  invaluably helpful. Thank you, thank you!!! Now the big challenge for me is to be able to keep studying and practicing on the wheel  as much as during the summer with the semester starting full force at the university (I am teacher).


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saw the photos in the general album posted today.   did you know that you have a space for your work in your own album?   that allows people to follow your work as an individual, not just something in the general pile of photos.  

were you a totally new potter in june?   if so, you have done well.  now just a matter of doing something simple repeatedly so you can perfect your skills.

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Hi @oldlady! I thought I was posting on my album. Thanks for letting me know. I will look on how to do it. So much to learn here. Only today I noticed that we could give likes to the answers on the forum..... and I have been reading so much!

Yes, I started in June and have been totally in love, like so many people in this community. I just wished I had discovered earlier. Thanks for the encouragement! It is a long journey.

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On 6/8/2021 at 3:48 PM, Callie Beller Diesel said:

It can be expensive so do shop around for it, but “A Potter’s Dictionary” by Hamer and Hamer is a book I wish I’d bought a LOT sooner.

It's worth looking at https://www.bookfinder.com/ from time to time, prices can vary significantly. Note softcover/hardback, date, new/used & edition differences.

e.g see the differences in prices with this search https://tinyurl.com/4xbe845v

...oops with prices in $s  https://tinyurl.com/d5avbspj

Edited by PeterH
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as you progress, judge the weight of each piece you make and see if your idea matches the reality.  one way to really get the weight out is to run a wire halfway under a thrown piece and pull the wire straight up, cutting the piece in half.    your photos show good shapes, only you know the weight.

returning to your book question, one of the ways to move on to more difficult items is covered in a 1972 book by charles counts "pottery workshop".  it is published in paperback as well as hardback and is not expensive.  do not try the glaze recipes, there are built in errors in them.

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@oldlady one for the vases is light, the other two are just a little heavy, they are bricks... :(  I am trying hard to throw lighter, but with little success...

Thanks for the book suggestion. I will order it. I also just finished watching this video of him on youtube. It is so good and endearing too.  Thank you and have a good weekend!


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Hola :)

Also check out archive.org , the internet archive. There are many many books that one is able to borrow digitally, which is great! For buying used books, checkout www.abebooks.com. The books are sold by independent sellers, both bookstores and individuals. 

Wanted to recommend this series called 'The Self-Reliant Potter',  by Henrik Norsker, James Danish. it is available online through the Human Development Library 2.0 The titles in the series are:

    Glazes — for the Self-Reliant Potter

    Clay Materials--for the Self-Reliant Potter


Forming Techniques - for the Self-Reliant Potter

The Self-Reliant Potter: Refractories and Kilns 

Also this great big-small book called: 'Batch Manufacturing for Ceramics, Models and Molds From Process to Product' by Seth Nagelberg, a former great teacher and friend. 

'Clay and Glazes for the Potter' by Daniel Rhodes

'Clay: A Studio Handbook' by Vince Pitelka

The handouts of Vince Pitelka available on his website HERE

'Stoneware Glazes: A Systematic Approach' by Ian Currie Free online thanks to the author through a creative commons license 

The handouts of Linda Arbuckle available on her website HERE

'21st Century Kilns: Design, Construction, Firing' by Mel Jacobson Free online thanks to the author 

'Paperclay: Art and Practice' by Rosette Gault

https://sites.google.com/site/meeneecat/ This is a great site by NC DuPont, checkout the section 'Educational Materials'

The articles and books by Steve Harrison

The Clay Art mailing list Archives

Have fun!



Edited by Gusf
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