Slab Techniques - review by Roger Bell
BOOK REVIEW - ROGER BELL Northern Potters Newsletter
Publ: A&C Black
As soon as the review copy landed on my doormat it had to be the next book for the newsletter. No need to explain to any NPA member who the stalwart ceramicists are and how much they have contributed to the organisation and the wider ceramics world. The ethos of the book is well summed up on the back cover: ‘There are often several techniques that could be used to achieve the same result…. no one method is correct, but there will be one which is appropriate for the potter, the clay and the firing process.’
The format of the volume in size and layout places it firmly in the excellent Ceramics Handbook series from A & C Black, yet it differs in one respect from the majority of recent technically orientated books from this and other publishers. Instead of a substantial portion of the text being devoted to profiles of individual potters and their techniques, the relevant making information is incorporated in the appropriate chapter. This avoids duplication, makes information easier to find and allows the use of photos of work by a wider range of makers. Interestingly the makers are all UK or Ireland based which makes it easier to see pieces in galleries and workshops, though it might hinder sales abroad.
Books covering a specific area have the problem of how to deal with those parts of the making process which apply to all making methods. Slab Techniques covers clay selection, drying, glazing and firing briefly but pointing out specific points relevant to the subject matter. The major chapters, ‘Construction Techniques’, ‘Making the Slab’, ‘Textures, Impressions, Mark Making & Colour’ and ‘Going Larger’, form the bulk of the text.
There are a number of other, rather disparate factors, which for me make this perhaps the best of recent books on ceramic techniques. The text is very clear, readable and encouraging of experimentation. The photos are a good balance of informative working stages and finished objects. I think many people will find this an excellent addition to their library.
Review by Roger Bell.
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