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Forming clay
Surfaces, glazes & firing
Angelica Pozo.
New York : Lark Books, 2010.
This third installment in Larks'Ceramics for Beginnersseries is the best beginners' workshop to surface work: emerging potters learn skills step-by-step, including stamping, sgraffito, brushwork with underglazes and oxides, majolica, and other techniques. How-to photos demystify the process, and there are scores of ideas for experimentation.
     
Wheel throwing
Emily Reason.
New York : Lark Books, c2010.
In the same bright, open design as the well-receivedCeramics for Beginners: Hand Building, this second entry in the series offers an introduction to the mechanics of wheel-thrown ceramics. Artist Emily Reason takes the beginner ceramist through nine projects, starting from one of two fundamental forms (cylinder or bowl).nbsp; Color bands throughout point the reader to related information on various techniques, while gallery sections provide inspiration.nbsp;
     
The potter's studio clay & glaze handbook : an essential guide to choosing, working, and designing with clay and glaze in the ceramic studio
Jeff Zamek.
Beverly, Mass. : Quarry Books, 2009.
Every potter-home enthusiast to the art center doyenne-needs practical guidance on choosing and using clays and glazes in his or her work. Mastering clays and glazes is a feat of both art and science, and navigating everyday issues in the pottery studio requires an understanding of both fields.nbsp; WithThe Potterrsquo;s Studio Clay and Glaze Handbook, the art and science of ceramics is explored with accessible authority and insight. Whether choosing a high-fire clay or applying a high-impact engobe, any potterrsquo;s craft will be enhanced and inspired by this book.
     
250 tips, techniques, and trade secrets for potters
Jacqui Atkin.
Hauppauge, NY : Barron's, 2009.
Both amateur and professional potters constantly seek time-saving tips, trade secrets, and new technical knowledge--which makes this handsomely illustrated book exactly what they are looking for. Atkin describes the full range of available clays, necessary tools and equipment, and easy-to-follow directions for fashioning pottery.
     
Complete ceramics : easy techniques and over 20 great projects.
 
London : Collins & Brown, 2009.
Part how-to guide, part historical reference, and part illustrated idea book, this is the definitive potter's companion. It covers the basics, such as coil building and slab construction, and features accompanying photos to help newcomers build a strong technical foundation. Then it provides dozens of advanced techniques that experienced potters will want to add to their repertoire, including mold-making and creative throwing practices. Also featured is a fascinating history of pottery, as well as a reference guide to the many types of clays and kilns. - 25 classic and contemporary ceramic projects are included, from a simple square porcelain wall box to slab-sided dishes - Features projects and techniques for beginners, intermediates, and advanced potters
     
Gorgeous glass : 20 sparkling ideas for painting on glass and china
Arlene Swiatek Gillen.
Cincinnati, Ohio : North Light Books, c2008.
Due to recent developments in glass paints, artists are now able to refine the art form and produce higher quality work that appeals to a more contemporary audience. With Gorgeous Glass, readers will learn new techniques -such as reverse glass painting - that will enable them to paint on beautiful, yet functional surfaces that can be used every day in the home or presented as gifts. Hundreds of clear and colorful photos break down the demonstrated painting techniques into easy-to-follow steps, ensuring success even for beginners. The techniques are easy to master, but the results are simply gorgeous!
     
Ceramics for beginners : hand building
Shay Amber.
New York : Lark Books, 2008.
Includes index.
     
Surface design for ceramics
Maureen Mills.
New York : Lark Books, 2008.
Includes index.
     

Clay is a versatile medium that can be manipulated, formed and worked into any shape.

To ensure an even consistency throughout your clay, the first thing you need to do is to prepare it. There are two kneading techniques, both named for the shape of the clay as you knead it - spiral and oxhead.

Once you have prepared the clay there are a wide range of techniques of forming clay.

Pinching clay is one of the simplest ways of working with clay.  Pat the clay into a smooth ball, press your thumb down the middle of it. From the bottom, pinch the clay between your thumb and fingers as you rotate the ball in your hand.

Coiling clay is a fast method to construct large forms. Make a base of uniform thickness. Roll out several coils of clay. As you build up the walls, score the coil and the base or coil under it and apply slip to make the coils bond together. Use your thumb to smear down the clay from the upper coil for a smooth pot.

Kiln firing

Bisque - first firing where the water evaporates and steam is driven out
Glaze - fuses with the clay surface and produces a gloss covering
Raku - the removal of pieces from a hot kiln and placed in masses of combustible material

Explore Raku firing

Slab building can be for both small and large pieces. Have a plan for before cutting the clay. The two different approaches to working with slabs are leatherhard slabs, to create straight edges, and soft slabbing, to create flowing forms. Roll the clay out between two slats to determine the thickness of the slabs. Using your plan cut out the pieces and join them by scoring and slipping the edges.

You can start using these techniques to develop your own work.

Article by: St. Louis Public Library staff