Working With Clay / Edition 3

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Written by a world-renowned ceramist and leading expert in the field, this introductory book describes the initial processes of handbuilding, wheel throwing, plaster mold making, decoration, glaze application and firing techniques in a simple, easy-to-follow narrative. The text offers rich pictorial guidance throughout, both inspiring and instructing students with over 650 color illustrations. It includes a pictorial timeline of ceramic art history; and exposes students to a gallery of ceramic art, from traditional to avant-garde. The third edition is thoroughly updated throughout.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780131963931
  • Publisher: Pearson
  • Publication date: 1/15/2009
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 505,462
  • Product dimensions: 8.70 (w) x 11.10 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface to the Third Edition 8

The Safety Aspect 11

1 The World of Ceramics 13

Introduction 13

Clay and Pottery 13

History’s Influence on the Ceramic Art of Today 14

Functional vs Sculptural 19

Types of Ceramic Wares 19

Earthenware 19

Stoneware 21

Porcelain 23

What is Clay? 24

What is a Clay Body? 25

Paperclay 26

Alternative clays and additions 28

Why Mix Your Own Clay Body? 32

Methods of Mixing Clay Bodies 32

Storing the Clay 33

How important is fired shrinkage and absorption? 33

How to reclaim scrap clay 34

What is Glaze? 34

Firing Ceramics 35

2 The Craft of Working with Clay by Hand 37

Getting Started 37

Tools for Working 39

Wedging Clay 39

Building by Hand: Introduction 40

Hand-building Techniques 42

Pinching clay 42

Coil method, smooth or textured 43

Slab-building 47

Learning from Techniques used by Indigenous Peoples 54

Methods of forming 54

Altering While Building 54

Changing clay surface 54

Coloring with mineral/ vegetable matter 55

Working with Plaster 57

How to make a mold 58

Casting Slip into Molds 59

Make Your Own Casting Slip or Buy It Ready-made 60

How to Mix Plaster and Pour a Form 63

3 Throwing on the Potter’s Wheel 67

Anyone can Learn to Throw... 67

To the Beginner 68

Steps in Throwing on the Potter’s Wheel 69

Wedging 69

Position at the wheel 70

Centering 70

Opening the ball 71

Practice These Five Shapes 72

a) Pull up and shape a cylinder 72

b) Half-spherical shape 74

c) Full spherical shape 76

d) Sphere and cylinder combined 78

e) Low open form 78

Other Shapes are Variations 79

Pitcher 79

Handles 80

Casserole 81

Lids and flanges 81

Teapot, coffee pot 83

Sets 84

Closed form 84

Do-nut 84

Throwing off-the-hump 84

Trimming Feet 84

Large Forms from the Wheel 85

4 Ceramic Sculpture 97

What is Ceramic Sculpture? 97

Using an armature 101

Drape in a hammock 102

Over-the-hump slab building 102

Categories of Sculpture 103

Sculpture Tools 108

Materials 108

Scale 109

Fabrication Techniques 111

Drying 114

Coloring 114

Firing 115

Firing for a large sculpture 115

5 Finishing Touches 117

Enhancing the Clay Form 117

Decorating with Clay 118

Texture 118

Adding clay to clay 119

Engobes 121

Engobe techniques 121

Testing and Using Glazes 125

Glaze composition 125

Calculating glaze formulas 125

Why Make Your Own Glaze? 125

Coloring Glazes 126

Glaze stains and oxides 126

Basic glaze batches for low, medium, high temperatures 127

Reds, yellows, and oranges 128

Amaco glaze tests 131

Duncan glaze tests 133

Hobby-Carrobia (Germany) glaze tests 134

Mayco glaze tests 134

Spectrum glaze tests 134

Spectrum Multi-color series 134

Mixing and Storing Glazes 135

Glaze Application 135

Methods 136

Decorating with Glaze 137

Sample Commercial Glazes 141

Glass is a Ceramic Material 142

Keep records 145

Experimentation 147

Line blends 147

Glaze Improvizations 147

6 Firing Ceramics 155

Heat Principles 155

Kilns 156

Gas kilns 157

Electric kilns 158

Commercial Ready-made Kilns 158

Paperclay Kilns 161

Why Build Your Own Kiln? 162

Firing Principles 163

Temperature Indicators 163

Guide-posts for temperature 164

Pyrometric Temperature Devices 164

Oxidation and Reduction Atmospheres 165

Copper reds 166

Iron celadons and tenmokus 167

Stacking and Firing Kilns 167

Bisque firing 167

Glaze firing 168

Alternative Firings 169

Pit firing 169

Raku firing 169

Salku firing 172

Salt firing 172

Soda firing 173

Wood firing 173

Glaze and Firing Problems 177

7 The Art of Ceramics 179

From Idea to Art 179

Pots and plates 180

Birds and animals 182

Figures and heads 184

Walls 189

Mixed media 194

Sculpture 196

Installations 200

8 The Timeless World History of Ceramic Art 206

9 Compendium 214

1. Suggested Projects for Individual Work 214

Decide on general procedure 214

Basically functional 214

Basically sculptural 216

2. Suggested Projects for Beginning Hand-building 216

3. Progression of Individual Steps in Throwing Projects 217

4. Suggested Projects for Clay, Glaze, and Decoration Experiments 218

Body and glaze development 218

Decoration 218

Design standards to keep in mind 218

5. Experimenting with Material Additions to a Base Glaze 218

6. Glaze Improvizations 219

7. Glaze “Line-blend” Test 219

8. Special Low-fire Information 220

Egyptian paste 220

Colors for Egyptian paste 220

Mosaic cement 220

Low-fire engobe 221

9. Some Suggestions for Taking Photographs of your Artwork 221

10. Example of a Pottery Studio 221

11. Terms Easily Mixed Up 222

Temperature Equivalents of Orton Cones 223

Temperature Equivalents of Seger Cones 223

Glossary 224

List of Artists 227

Residencies 231

Information Sources 233

Bibliography 235

Photo Credits 236

Index 237

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I have written this book to inspire and to teach the beginner about working with clay through colorful photographs and anecdotal descriptions of the various processes involved. I also aim to appeal to the collector, who can make use of this analysis to gain an indepth perspective on historical and contemporary ceramics. The practical photographs are set off by copious illustrations of what can be achieved, from everyday items such as plates and bowls to international examples of the potter's art such as sculpture and site installations. Beginner students and all those who appreciate the art of ceramics will find many illuminating insights into this endlessly fascinating world.

My long career as a professor of ceramic art and a practicing potter has enabled me to pass on the benefits of my experience to students and aficionados at all levels. I have five books in print, apart from this one: Shoji Hamada, A Potter's Way and Work; The Living Tradition of Maria Martinez, Lucy M. Lewis, American Indian Potter, The Craft and Art of Clay; Pottery by American Indian Women. I have a video in circulation from film made at Hamada's studio in 1970 when I did the notes for his book, and a series of 54 videos on ceramics, called "Wheels, Kilns, and Clay." Thanks are due to the many artists all over the world who have helped me with suggestions and by sending me their own examples. I am grateful to Laurence King, Lee Ripley Greenfield, Judy Rasmussen, Janet Pilch, and the staff at Calmann & King in London who package the book; to Elisabeth Ingles, my editor, and Karen Stafford, who designed the book; to Craig Smith, who photographed theprocess shots of me working in my studio, to Bud Therien at Prentice Hall, and to Overlook/Viking. I also acknowledge the help and encouragement of my three children, Jill Peterson Hoddick, Jan Sigrid Peterson, and Taäg Paul Peterson, plus five grandchildren, Annah Gerletti, Kayley Hoddick, Alexander and Calder Peterson, and Augustus John Gerletti. I would not have got so much done without assistants Nori Pao, Judith Schreibman, and Tony Mulanix.

Finally, a fond remembrance and deep gratitude to my deceased parents, Iva and Paul Harnly, and my late husband Robert Schwarz Jr.

Carefree, Arizona, June 1998


Since 1998 I have published five more books: the second edition of this one, Working with Clay; the third edition of The Craft and Art of Clay; Contemporary Ceramics; Smashing Glazes; and Jun Kaneko — quite an output! March 2002 sees the establishment of the Susan Harnly Peterson Ceramic Archive and Study Collection in the Ceramic Research Center of the Nelson Art Museum of Arizona State University. We hope many of you will add to this beginning.

I am grateful to all you artists over the globe who send me your images, invite me to lecture in your schools and conferences, and aid in countless other ways. Helpers on this edition include my children and grandchildren, and my assistants Lucy Horner and Jarilyn Mason (daughter of John and Vernita). K.C. O'Connell, my studio assistant, made the new clay and glaze tests. My friend and remarkable photographer Craig Smith took the process and test photos. I am grateful to the same team as before at Laurence King Publishing, London.

This edition has increased in length, to include modifications and new techniques. Much is changing in the ceramic world. I see fewer purely functional pots except in folk cultures — we all want to decorate and invent forms! More use of prepared clay and commercial glazes is apparent, but there is a return to basics in building your own kilns, in old-fashioned firings such as wood, oil, raku, pit, salt, and to prospecting your own materials. We are grasping for ever larger scale, for mixed media combinations, for room-or building-sized installations, and there is a renewed emphasis on architectural and landscape collaborations. I am saddened that a number of the wonderful images you have submitted had to be left out because of lack of space.

There are more galleries, more museum exhibitions honoring ceramic material and artists, more books, more internet material, more websites, more serious collectors, and more opportunities for making a living as a ceramist.

My daughter Jan has helped greatly with this book; her process photos have appeared in previous books and she has always been involved with my work. Ceramics is a serious art and a lifelong journey. Begin at the beginning with this book, go upward and onward. Beginners can't do everything but need to know the possibilities. Good luck!

Carefree, Arizona, March 2002

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