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The Craft and Art of Clay Hardcover – November 10, 2003

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The Craft and Art of Clay + Surface Design for Ceramics (A Lark Ceramics Book) + 250 Tips, Techniques, and Trade Secrets for Potters: The Indispensable Compendium of Essential Knowledge and Troubleshooting Tips
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Overlook Hardcover; 4 Sub edition (November 10, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585674761
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585674763
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 1.3 x 11.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #255,502 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Ceramists of all levels require a manual that both emphasizes technical know-how and devotes space to inspiring creativity with examples of innovative work. Peterson's expanded, copiously illustrated volume incorporates an extensive amount of valuable material for potters studying wheel-throwing or hand-built sculpture, clay and glaze chemistry, mold making, decorating methods, or firing techniques. Although many of the step-by-step photographs would be more effective if larger, Peterson cannot be faulted for her comprehensive approach to the subject matter. In addition to a compendium filled with information, there are engaging portfolios showing the historical evolution of ceramic art and a gallery of contemporary artists' works. For arts-and-craft collections, this resource offers instruction in all areas of ceramics. Alice Joyce --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Publisher

The second edition of this popular and comprehensive book is again based in the spirit of creative inspiration, combining a clear step-by-step approach to acquiring skills with an appreciation of the unique potential of working in clay. The student can be left alone with this text to learn on an as needed basis. This frees the instructor so that they can function individually with students solving problems and giving advice. Author Susan Peterson is a well-known ceramist whose writing style provides clear descriptions of the fundamental ceramic procedures -- both in the text and through the use of copious illustrations. The selection of ceramic projects and the author's ability to convey the artist's perspective is intended to appeal to both instructors and students. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 17 customer reviews
It is as much a coffee table book as a text.
R. S. Chapman
I am teaching a youth ceramics class this summer and am looking forward to having this as a reference!
This is a very useful resource and I highly recommend it.
Jill Malter

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Book Fan TOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 10, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a large book chock full of information, and provides an in-depth survey of ceramics. There are many photographs about techniques and many illustrations of beautiful artistic ceramics pieces. Also it contains lots of technical information, tables, etc.

Since other reviews have covered the merits of this book quite well, I'll mention a few issues:

First, there are lots of sample photos of different clay bodies under different firings and different glaze colors and combinations, etc., but they are all *way too small* to really see the characteristics of each sample. Also sometimes there is a series of photos, e.g. throwing a pot, building a kiln, and when they are all arranged on the page, each one is too small (and many are b&w, from previous editions?) Otherwise the book is very well illustrated with a wide variety of work.

The glaze discussion does not cover the properties of glaze bases and coloring oxides much at all, which is something I would expect in a book of this comprehensiveness. It does spent some time on commercial fritted stains and Mayco glazes, which other books don't, and can be useful to some, especially for low-temp work. But if you really want to get into glazes, this is not the book.

For many advanced topics, she has just a mention that leaves me hungry for more. E.g. lusters she briefly mentions using and making, but Rhodes has a much more thorough discussion of making lusters. Paperclay is mentioned briefly but not enough to really tell me how to make it or use it. For many of the topics in the book, more detailed discussions are possible and likely available elsewhere. However she has assembled lots of brief mentions of different and experimental work that you might not encounter in other ceramics survey books, so it is useful for knowing what else I want to look into.

[This review pertains to the 4th edition, 2003.]
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By S. Nichols on March 11, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I received this book as a Christmas gift in 2003 from my boyfriend, as I had just started learning to throw forms back in September. I'm still taking classes and this is the best and most complete reference I've seen yet. I've purchased and looked at quite a number of books, but nothing else I've seen compares to this one.
But I have a caution for the beginning potter; there is absolutely no substitute for studio experience and classes. My instructors told me right from the beginning, quite rightly, that the art of claymaking requires hours and hours of practice. No way around it. This book is not intended as a stand-alone reference. Perhaps it could be for the more experienced potter.
But for a beginner such as myself, it is a great reinforcement for what I'm learning in class. It also gives me great ideas on glazing, types of pots to throw, etc.. I need to work with my instructor on much of this, but I still find it extremely useful.
The book expands on subjects that we don't really discuss in detail in class. It talks about things such as: what are glazes (composition and origin) and how does the chemical process work? What are the main glazing techniques? What are all the various types of clay and where do they come from? How does one choose a clay to work with? Since the art and history of clay making varies from culture to culture, a lot of different styles and techniques are included, making this a well-rounded book.
Many parts of the book are very technical (a little intimidating to me) and are probably best suited for the 'master' clay artist. However, I still find it extremely useful. It's really the "Oxford Dictionary" of Claymaking.
This book should definitely be a part of a serious claymaker's library (but not the only book!)
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Jill Malter on April 16, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is a great book for anyone who wants to work with clay. It is clearly written with prospective and actual studio potters in mind.

The book originally came out in 1992, and is now in its fourth edition. And, after mentioning some safety issues, it has plenty of instructional material on how to shape clay, and what tools to use. There are sections on hand building: pinching, coil building, and slab building. Then there's plenty about the technique of "throwing" clay on a potter's wheel, with nice sequences of photos. This takes plenty of skill and practice! As the author says, the wheel is very sensuous, rhythmic, and hypnotic. Peterson is always warning us to treat clay properly: if you attack it in one way and then hit it from another direction in the same place, you may find cracks there in firing, induced by the strains you imposed on it. It's simply wrong to overwork clay.

Still, many potters and artists like to produce many objects with the same overall shape. And that means making and using molds made from plaster, and making casting slips, so Peterson shows us quite a bit about these. After this comes a discussion of decoration. This involves artistry and visualization.

There is a good discussion of types of clays, and explanations of what earthenware, stoneware, and porcelain are. We're shown different types of clay bodies, including terra sigillata and raku (a process which requires a clay body that has some dirt mixed in with it to make it porous enough to avoid thermal shock). And there is a wonderful chapter on glazes. Following that, there is plenty about kilns and firing, including using cones, inconel tubes, and pyrometers to measure temperature.
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