In line with other crafts that favor materials drawn from the Earth, pottery is having something of a moment, with several publishers releasing comprehensive instructional books that are aimed mostly at beginners. Here, we round up a selection of new books that delve into the finer points of working with clay and glaze.
Complete Pottery Techniques
José Carvalho, Charlotte Grinling, and Charlie Trueman. DK, Aug.
This compendium by three professional potters leads would-be claysmiths through the basics—choosing designs, learning to shape them on the wheel, then glazing them—all enhanced by color photography that lends a close-up look at technique. The book also offers advanced instruction in types of glaze, manipulating finishes, and adding texture.
From Clay to Kiln
Stuart Carey, photos by Alun Callender. Lark, Sept.
Carey, who teaches at a ceramics studio in London, directs his book’s instruction at beginners, using what he writes is his “unique insight into the problems newcomers face when working with” clay. Step-by-step photography leads readers through, for instance, the various hand positions for shaping clay on a wheel. A troubleshooting chart in the back matter runs through problems and solutions at all stages of the process.
Forrest Lesch-Middelton. Quarry, Oct.
Lesch-Middelton, an architectural tile maker in California who is known for historically inspired pieces, offers instruction in creating, decorating, designing with, and installing ceramic tile. Q&as with notable tile artisans lend inspiration.
Mastering Kilns and Firing
Lindsay Oesterritter. Quarry, Oct.
Looking beyond the foundational materials of pottery to focus on the various methods used in heating clay into finished forms, Oesterritter, a ceramicist in Virginia, explores raku, pit and barrel firing, and kilns, encouraging artisans to be as ambitious as they dare (“Another option for your kiln is to make your own bricks”). She also interviews clay artists with varying areas of expertise.
Painting on Pottery
Tania Zaoui. Search, Oct.
For crafters who don’t have access to a ceramics studio, a kiln, or even clay, French artist Zaoui focuses on what can be created from preformed, unglazed, ready-to-decorate dishes and other objects available at crafts stores, with the application of ceramics paints and home-oven heat.
What Makes a Potter
Janet Koplos. Schiffer, Oct.
Koplos, an honorary fellow of the American Craft Council and a contributing editor to Art in America, showcases the biographies, philosophies, and handiwork of dozens of American potters. Not only does artisan pottery allow “a relationship between the user and the maker invoked by the sensations of touch,” Koplos writes in the introduction, but it’s also a humane and ecologically sound alternative to “mass-produced china made at slave-labor wages and imported vast distances using fossil fuels that damage the environment.”