Category Archives: Books

The Magic of Clay

I added this book to my library of ceramics books a couple of weeks ago. It’s written in the form of a children’s book with beautiful collage images and is chock full of technical information. The Magic of Clay by Adalucia Quan covers a wide variety of topics: where clay comes from; the chemical make-up of clay; varieties of clay; potter’s tools; wedging; slip & oxides; the stages of clay; types of firings; pyrometric cones, etc… All the fundamental information that ceramic artists (students, amatuers and professionals alike) should know about.

The Magic of Clay would be great required reading for beginning and intermediate ceramics classes. It takes a lot of the technical information and puts it into a format that is easy to understand. For some, the talk about alumina and silica can be pretty dry and not very engaging. This book definitely makes learning about the chemical make-up of clay pretty interesting and will engage clay-geeks and non-clay geeks alike. (I self identify as a clay-geek.)

Peace, love and leather hard pots.

One of my favorite moments when I’m making pots is that moment in time when the clay has firmed up enough to handle without distortion. The moment when you can take a trimming tool to the bottom of the pot and you get nice long ribbons of trimmings that don’t gum up your tool.

Normally, the moment in time when the pots are perfect for stamping, carving, slipping and trimming is a moment that I experience in solitude with my pots. But I thought that I would try to share a bit of this moment with you. Below are some images of cups that I made today. They are freshly stamped and awaiting a second trip to the wheel for trimming.

You can see in the image (below) on the left that the soft clay is impressed deep enough that you can see the stamping on the inside of the cup. I hope that you can get a sense of the depth of the stamping from the image on the right from the pictures (click on them to see the image larger). The clay has to be dry enough that the stamp doesn’t stick to the clay, but soft enough to get a deep impression without cracking. More to come on this series in future posts!

 

I know that I am not alone in my love of leather hard clay. I see lots of freshly made pots in the posts of my fellow clay bloggers! I have put together some pictures (and links) from their sites to share with you.
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Eleanor Hendricks of Fenelon Falls, Ontario, shared some great pictures on her blog last week illustrating her love of the process of making. She ended her post with this question:

Does anyone else sometimes treasure the process more than the finished products? 

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Amy Sanders, of Charlotte, North Carolina, shared this image on her blog of her carved plates. What beautiful lines! As usual, with pots, it’s all about the timing!
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I love how these drying beer cups from Euan Craig caught the sunlight in Mashiko, Japan. The perfect moment of leather hard met the perfect moment of sunlight streaming in his studio.
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Cheryl Alena Bartram of Golden, British Columbia, shares this great image of tumblers on her blog. I can imagine the board of cups going on and on and on and on…. I have been known to base the amount of pots that I throw in a sitting based on the length of a board or the size of the table.
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Douglas Fitch makes pots “in middle of nowhere, north of Exeter, Devon, United Kingdom,” far from my studio in Chicago. But when I see these images of the rough leather hard pots I think I can smell the mustiness of the clay… and that’s a great thing.
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I find that there is little more satisfying in a day’s work that a table covered in finished pots.
John Zhender (from my home state of New Hampshire) posted this satisfying image of finished banks and lidded cups on his blog:
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Look at these gorgeous plates that Ron Philbeck made at his studio in Shelby, North Carolina! I think I have to throw some plates tomorrow…
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One of my favorite clay books is A Potter’s Workbook by Clary Illian. The images in the book are almost all photos of leather hard pots. The focus is on the forms without any distraction of decoration or firing technique. If you make functional pots, I highly recommend adding this book to your collection.

Soda, Clay and Fire: a new book on soda firing

It is finally here, Gail Nichols’ new book on soda glazing: Soda, Clay and Fire. This book is based on her research from her PhD in Material Science on Soda Firing at Monash University (Australia). I just got my copy from Amazon (click on link to order)- so I don’t feel like I can actually review it yet. But I wanted to share with you that it is finally out in print. There is still so little information published on soda firing/ glazing- this literally doubles the number of books published exclusively on the topic.

Also, in my neglect of my blog recently, I have not mentioned on here that 500 Pitchers came out in the spring. I was lucky enough to get another 2 images published in the latest publication from Lark Book’s 500 series.

500 Cups, Lark Books


500 Cups, cover, Lark Books

This February, Lark Books has released it’s newest book is the “500″ series. I am lucky enough to have two images in it.

page 110


page 351

My Lillstreet soda firing partner in crime, Gary Jackson,
also has an image in the book.

page 265

This series of books from Lark is beautifully done.
Inspirational for the potter and visually gratifying for the collector.
I also enjoy (and own) other book’s from this series:

If you’d like to purchase the book
directly through Amazon…