Archive for category Subject: Ceramics

500 Figures in Clay volume 2 || Nan Smith

This is a big lump of a book that needs to be sat in your lap, but thankfully falls open easily (it’s a paperback) and the weight of its pages are not too much for the spine. This matters, because there’s no doubt that a book which feels good in the hands is always likely to make you feel better-disposed to the contents.

There’s barely any text here, apart from a brief introduction and captions to each of the illustrations that tell you the artist, title, size and basic construction. The organisation is simple, too: the contents lists Heads, Busts, Body Details, Figurines, etc, with page numbers. When you turn to the appropriate section, there are no breaks, no chapter heads. If you’re going through at random, the divisions are invisible. If there’s any further attempt at organisation, I’ve failed to find it. And I love that. I love the way things are seemingly just put in there as they come up, not with any attempt at classification so that you get like with like. You don’t, you get like with unlike and every turn of the page is going to be a surprise. I also love the fact that there’s no attempt at explanation: you make of this what you will. If it works, it works and if it doesn’t, well, there are 499 others.

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Introducing Pottery – the complete guide || Dan Rhode

Well, the title is nothing if not a bold claim and 160 pages isn’t much to cover a subject that could make an encyclopaedia look concise.

In spite of that, it’s impressive just how much is covered and the logical progression as well as the number, variety and quality of the illustrations all contribute to the sense that this is going to be pretty thoroughly authoritative. Dan Rhode is an experienced teacher and practitioner and it’s pretty clear that he knows his stuff.

If you’re just starting out in ceramics, then there’s a lot of the very basic stuff that this isn’t going to tell you, but you can get that elsewhere. Even so, as a guide to where you can get to and what you need to be looking out for, it’s invaluable. If you already have an interest and some experience, then I suspect it’s something that’ll provide an invaluable overview that a whole shelf-full of more detailed guides won’t really cover.

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