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.
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.