Wednesday, August 27, 2014

New Pottery Textbook

I haven't required a textbook in my clay classes in the past, but I have been sorta looking for a good one for a while. It seems like most general clay texts are written with dense technical writing that manages to be boring even to someone familiar with the medium. I've also got several how-to books that have lots of pictures, but no technical or glaze information. 

A couple weeks ago in Seattle I noticed this book: "Introducing Pottery" by Dan Rhode. At first I thought the author was Rhodes, as in Daniel Rhodes who is an famous ceramic expert and wrote the glaze "bible", Clay and Glazes for the Potter, that I used in my technical ceramics course in graduate school. Rhode is not Rhodes, but the book looked good so I bought it to explore further.

The neat thing about the pottery history timeline is how super long the BC side is compared to the AD side. (And it's also weird that that don't use BCE/CE.)

I'm only a couple chapters in, but the book seems pretty useful so far. I was hoping for a brief and clearly written introduction to history, chemistry and technique for an introductory ceramics course. The first chapter is a very brief history of the first use of ceramics in early prehistoric "venus" figures and Jomon pottery through today. I particularly like the timeline which gives a sense of when pottery, basic kilns, wheels, glazes and high temperature kilns were first introduced around the world.

The next chapter gives some fairly simple, but accurate and clear information about the chemical composition of clay and other clay body materials. Later chapters will go into techniques, glazing and firing. I've set myself a schedule to make sure I get the book read before the quarter starts, but I've already listed the book as optional for my Functional Pottery and Intro to Clay classes.

So far it looks like the book closely mirrors what I lecture on in Functional Pottery, but with some more explanation and good visuals. I am hoping to get some feedback from students as to whether the book will be a useful addition to the class. In other classes, like Design, finding a good book and assigning readings has allowed me to limit lectures and use the class time for more in-depth discussion, activities and projects. I'm hoping this book might do that for the clay classes. As a bonus, I bought the book for $30 at Seattle Pottery, which is far cheaper than the price of a lot of textbooks today.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Tell me what you think about my work or this post