Since I live pretty far from any organized ceramic instruction, I have turned to books and the Internet to help keep me educated and inspired in my work. Unfortunately, I am usually under the impression that I am too busy to do this kind of research with any regularity, but that’s just not true, and in fact, I really can’t afford not to look at what other artists are doing—just seeing different forms and colors keeps me excited about making things and motivated to improve my skills (all of my art teachers were right! Next thing I know I’ll be religiously drawing in my sketchbook every day). So here are some results of my dedication to my continued education:
Today’s online search for pottery blogs led me to themudbucket.blogspot.com, where I found some of the writer’s sources of inspiration, such as ceramic artists Liz Kinder, Molly Hatch, and Amy Halko. Each of these women makes lovely, useful pottery with her own unique spin. What I love about all three of them is their use of color and surface decoration, something I am fascinated with right now. I am also particularly drawn to women potters, because I love to see how contemporary women interpret forms that have historically been relegated to the female realm—serving vessels, cups, bowls, plates, etc.
Because neither of my degrees is a fine arts degree, my background isn’t technically in ceramics. Therefore, I still have a lot to learn, and am kind of finding out about things as I go. One print resource that is indispensable for potters of any skill or experience level (in my opinion) is a ceramics periodical. I have a subscription to Clay Times, which comes about every other month, and has info on clay workshops, exhibits, practicing artists, and studio safety. The former journalist in me just loves to get a shiny new magazine in the mail, and there’s nothing better than a trade mag to keep you up to date on such a specific topic.
Some books that have helped me figure out technical aspects of making pottery in the studio are The Complete Potter by Steve Mattison (a great all-around resource on clay bodies, construction and decoration techniques, firing information, and more), Handbuilt Tableware by Kathy Triplett (well-illustrated, and filled with construction techniques for entire sets of tableware, from teacups to salt shakers), and Handbuilt Pottery Techniques Revealed by Jacqui Atki (this one suggests some great tools and coiling methods I’d never thought of). All of these are available on amazon.com.
I also never pass up a chance to buy a (reasonably priced) piece of pottery or other original artwork that appeals to me, or an interesting looking art book that has nothing to do with ceramics—inspiration can come from anywhere, and it’s one of my New Year’s resolutions to keep my eyes and ears open! More to come on this topic in the future…