Pottery hobbyist in need of books on design principles
August 11, 2021 10:31 AM   Subscribe

I enjoy pottery but I have zero background in the arts and feel like I keep hitting a wall that comes from having basically no visual language, if that makes sense. I'm looking for two kinds of books: (1) book that cover surface decoration, and (2) books on principles of design more generally.

Some other details:

-- Instagram and YouTube accounts don't do it for me.

-- I'm interested in books that cover principles of design and composition more generally, but it's even better if they are geared toward pottery. In this area, I have picked up Lark Ceramics' "Design! A Lively Guide for Artists & Craftspeople."

-- I'm also interested in books that cover specific surface design techniques.

-- I am interested in wheel thrown and hand built pottery.

-- I am not so interested in books that go over how to throw or build pottery. So while I may be interested in discussions of altering wheel-thrown forms, I am not interested in a heavy focus on "how to throw a cylinder" or "how to throw a French butter dish on the wheel" and so on.
posted by kensington314 to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
Best answer: Not sure what they teach in art school these days, but this is what was big back in the day:

Ceramics
https://www.amazon.com/dp/0812211561/

Cushing's Handbook
https://www.ceramicartslibrary.com/product/1913/CUSHINGS-HANDBOOK-Cushing-Val-M

A Potter's Workbook
https://www.amazon.com/dp/0877456712/

Functional Pottery: Form and Aesthetic of Purpose
https://www.amazon.com/dp/0873418174/

Clay and Glazes for the Potter
https://www.amazon.com/dp/0873418638/

The Craft and Art of Clay
https://www.amazon.com/Craft-Art-Clay-4th-dp-0131844261/dp/0131844261

10,000 Years of Pottery
https://www.amazon.com/dp/0812235541/

Robin Hopper and Philip Rawson have other great resources. Clary Illian is a big name in wheelthrowing education specifically. I'd say the top 4 books are the best to get started.
posted by executive_dysfuncti0n at 11:06 AM on August 11, 2021 [1 favorite]


Best answer: These are both more focused on surface design techniques vs principles of design, but I like:
- Graphic Clay: Ceramic Surfaces & Printed Image Transfer Techniques by Jason Bige Burnett
- New Ceramic Surface Design: Learn to Inlay, Stamp, Stencil, Draw, and Paint on Clay by Molly Hatch

This is a little outside of what you're asking for, but I've also found instructional guides to drawing (like this, although YMMV depending on your style) have helped me a lot with surface design on my ceramics.

I know you're interested in books, but FWIW I've found Ceramic Arts Network's CLAYFlicks videos helpful. You need a subscription to view the videos, but I've found them to be very high quality and informative. They have a great collection of videos on decoration!
posted by cimton at 12:42 PM on August 11, 2021


Best answer: There's a practical ceramics periodical you might find helpful called Pottery Making Illustrated. I used to get the paper copy but it's possible there's an on-line directory where you could filter for topics of interest. I found it to be in a place that tried to be helpful to students and hobbyists ("best technique to secure a mitered corner of boxes", "how to decorate using slip-trailing" type of article) and included some more advanced projects and techniques. I think they also address firing in some articles if you are firing your own work. I have a background in ceramics from art school, but I continued as a hobbyist after school and found the articles helped spark ideas and was also practical. They will not steer you wrong.

A more professional publication geared toward professional potters is Ceramics Monthly. More advanced firing is covered (gas kilns, wood firing, formulae for making your own glazes, how to diagnose why certain problems occur, etc.). They also feature individual professional artists and how they set up their studios and manage to live from their art. I believe they have the same publisher.
posted by citygirl at 12:44 PM on August 11, 2021 [1 favorite]


Best answer: This is an abstract suggestion, totally unlike actual pottery advice: Weyl’s Symmetry.
posted by clew at 5:02 PM on August 11, 2021


Best answer: Came to recommend a subscription to Pottery Making Illustrated. They have lots of specific projects you can do step-by-step to learn techniques and are much more focused on things like surface decoration. It features guests for a lot of these projects so you can find out how those well-known potters on social media actually do their surface decoration and I find their techniques are a lot more creative and boundary pushing than most books I've looked at, which are pretty staid and plain and based on tradition. A subscription will give you access to lots of back issues so you can poke about and find ideas you like. I find it more useful than Ceramics Monthly, which I find is much more geared toward people with their own studios who are doing a lot more of the technical stuff.
posted by urbanlenny at 6:38 PM on August 11, 2021 [1 favorite]


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