Clay Times Back Issues Vol. 1 Issue 1 • Dec 1995 | Page 3
Clay Times: THE JOURNAL OF CONTEMPORARY CERAMICS Editor/Production: Polly Beach Associate Editor: Rick Berman Advertising Manager: Debbie Grimm Technical Consultant: Grace Lewis Contributing Writers: Steve Branfman, Book Reviews Monona Rossol, Health & Safety Marc Ward, Kilns & Firing Published by: Clay Times LLC • PO Box 17139 • Amelia Island, FL 32035 • 800-356-2529 • www.claytimes.com
Three New Pottery Books BY STEVE BRANFMAN Terra Sculptura, Terra Pictura Ceramics of the Classical Modernists: Braque, Chagall, Cocteau, Dufy, Miro, Picasso. Preface by Yvonne G.J.M. Joris; Essays by Dr. Roland Doschka and Francois Mathey. University of PA Press, 221 pages, clothbound. Text in Dutch, French, English, and German. This book is a treat for anyone interested in objects made of clay. In it we are exposed to a fascinating collection of wares by a collection of arguably the most influential artists of the 20th century. And while these individuals are by no means the only modern masters who have worked with clay, the opportunity to view their works can only serve to further our own understanding of the degree to which claywork can take both the maker and viewer. There is a brief preface introducing the origin of the idea for the book, followed by two essays which attempt to place the artwork in the context of 20th century art and explore the careers of featured artists. While there is interesting and useful information in the essays, I found the writing to be somewhat confusing and babbleish. Perhaps this is due to the fact that the writing is originally Dutch and something may have gotten lost in the translation. It is refreshing, though, that the overall tone and message in the writing is that ceramics and pottery should be considered as fine an art as painting and sculpture, and it is the “market” that is responsible for elevating painting and drawing to an artificially higher plane. Important, too, are the many insights we are exposed to regarding the artists’ creative thought processes that had pointed them toward pottery in the first place. Disappointing is the total absence of any degree of technical information on the materials, working techniques, or the true extent of the artist/ potter collaborative relationship. Nevertheless, the strength of this book is in the illustrations, and it is for this reason that it should be in your library. Included are 80 full-color illustrations that can only serve to further your own appreciation of clay as a decorative medium. You may even be inspired!
Pottery: A Guide To Advanced Techniques by Doug Wensley. Trafalgar Square Publishers, North Pomfret, VT. 158 pages, clothbound. Yet another volume to add to the litany of general handbooks and alleged technical books for the potter? Well, gladly this book may indeed fill a need. While it is touted as a “guide to advanced techniques,” it is more accurately a collection of processes, techniques, instructions, and ideas for anyone who can handle clay in a comfortable, competent fashion and for those beyond the rudimentary skills of throwing and/or handbuilding a variety of simple forms. It should not be construed as a book for only “advanced potters” by any means. The first line of the author’s introduction states, “The aim of this book is to build on basic pottery skills and to augment those skills.” In fact, truly advanced potters will likely be disappointed by the intermediate nature of the techniques and processes discussed. The book is arranged by chapters that are each dedicated to a particular aspect of the clayworking process: design, ceramics and clay, throwing, handbuilding, assembly, decoration, glazing, firing, and personal approaches. Also included is a rather interesting chapter entitled, “Unorthodox Procedures,” in which the author presents a few techniques which are not easily classified and seem to contradict traditional craft practices. Some of the procedures covered in the text include silkscreening onto clay, assembling pieces from multiple forms, coiling and throwing, and extruding forms, among others. Firing information includes a discussion of traditional firing methods,