May 5, 2011 § Leave a comment

It was my birthday last week and I was delighted to receive this collection of books.

The two that I have made most use of so far are: ‘Clay and Glazes for the Potter’ by Daniel Rhodes and ‘Pottery on the Wheel’ by Elsbeth Woody. They have been invaluable. ‘Clay and Glazes…’ is the best book I have found so far on the technical side of clay, the chemical composition and physical nature of the clay. It is detailed without being turgid and I have benefited immeasurably from a greater understanding of the substance of clay, which has deepened my relationship with it. I am anticipating a similar reaction to the chapters on glazes when I get to them. The Elsbeth Woody has been a fantastic accompaniment to the other Daniel Rhodes book I have been reading, ‘Pottery Form’. It is a step-by-step guide with clear and plentiful pictures, including numerous cross-sections through pots with Woody’s fingers in place to illustrate exactly the details of the process. There are 13 pages on centring alone, so what more could a beginner want…?

The next book on my wish list is Tanya Harrod’s ‘The Crafts in Britain in the Twentieth Century’. Glenn Adamson, in the ‘The Craft Reader’, describes it as setting a new standard for craft history, providing “a subtle and unillusioned narrative of debate, disappointment, possibility and radicalism”.

And there are two quotes I have found recently that I like very much. I can’t remember where I found this one but it was attributed to Adolf Loos from 1908, who saw in the act of making a pot “chance, passion, dreams and the mystery of creation”. The second is from the Introduction to Woody’s ‘Pottery on the Wheel’: “Even though throwing is a manual skill, it is not the hands alone that are involved. The whole body and mind are used. The area of contact between the clay and the potter may be less than a square inch, but the position of the body in relation to the clay, the position of the arms, the tension that permeates the body from the toes to the fingertips, are all important”.


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