Generally, I collect ceramics, I don't make them anymore. I was never very adept with the potting wheel where my projects too often became lost in space, but I used to make very nice ceramics. In the process of dabbling with molds, slip and glaze I wondered about other aspects of the craft and over the years I have read and studied the subject informally. This wonderful book is a valuable resource whether you are starting out and want to experiment with different clay projects or want to refresh your memory.
Zakin first explains the building blocks--ceramics-making materials (different combinations lead to different outcomes). He discusses types of clays, feldspars, frits, silica, and other modifying compounds. Ever notice when you hold a cup made from Kaolin (frequently called porcelain) filled with a hot fluid you don't burn your hand whereas the cute cup you bought at the local craft show made from a more porous clay does? Zakin provides a great deal of information about the attributes of clay including plasticity, durability, color, maturity absorption, texture, resistance to warping, and intended use. If you're making a mug, a quiche pan, or a vase (or buying one), you may want to consider these aspects.
Zakin provides the reader with much information about ceramic color, glazes, and mold-making (plenty of tips for success). I was fascinated with the sections discussing glaze making and testing, and kiln loading and firing including some nice photos of the raku process. Section 16 includes a succinct history of ceramics that covers various types generated over the ages (nicely illustrated and clearly written).
The appendices of the book continue the in-depth exploration of the process of ceramics making including ways to analyze your results. This is an informative and well illustrated book containing many examples of ceramics made by the author and other artists working in his field.