Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Book: The Potter's Manual by Kenneth Clark

In late 1999, not long after signing up for hand building lessons at a local pottery, it occurred to me to find a good pottery book before I started the class, as I never like to go into anything unprepared. There were a few books on the shelf at my local bookstore, but only one instructional one: "The Potter's Manual: Complete, Practical Essential Reference for All Potters" by Kenneth Clark. This book became my bible, and I cannot express how much I love it.

It is the best  book for those new to pottery who have a true desire to *learn*, for those who wish to understand the technical ceramics process. The book is thorough, interesting, and presents all aspects of pottery in a clear yet descriptive manner. The artists Clark has used to illustrate the discussed techniques are wonderful, and form a visual primer to best of international ceramics. I knew nothing of potters and pottery when I bought this book, and will never forget the sheer pleasure I got from seeing a piece of Raku for the first time - which, by the way, was a multi-fired Raku vase by Harvey Sadow.

Lamentably, many photographs in this book are in black and white, with the important ones in colour. But, with the aid of the internet, the colour versions of the black and white photographs are easily found if something really attracts your interest. So, this is no coffee table book, just an earnest, successful manual which is of true value to any potter. I have two copies; a working paperback which lives in my studio, and a hardcover I keep in my bookcase. First published in 1983, and reprinted several times, this book is widely available second-hand, and is a very worthwhile book to pick up.

Kenneth Clark died in 2012, and two lovely obituaries can be found here:

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