7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 9 August 2012
As a self taught potter, I began my studying by reading textbooks intensely, realising that while I lacked the classroom, the peers and the teachers, I could at least get the theory into my head. A professional potter whose studio I shared mentioned Richard Phethean as a personal favourite of hers so I bought Phethean's first book with the same title and read it from cover to cover several times. It covered the basics and provided advanced projects that looked challenging and developing to the practitioner even if I did not really like the finished pieces.
So I smiled when the review copy of Phethean's new book (same title, different publisher) came out of the envelope, it was like greeting an old friend. The cover is now panelled in cool colours, there is a bowl by Karen Bunting to provide a visual anchor and the font (Rotis Semi Sans)is clean and professional, it was all looking rather promising already.
The structure of the book remains largely similar to his earlier edition but with better, fuller instructions and recommendations. Recycling clay, for example, looks at both entirely manual and pugmill variations, including a good tip for ensuring pugged clay is well mixed by building a long pyramid of pugged strips and then wiring off slices for repugging. The centring, opening and throwing of the basic forms (cylinder, bowl, plate and pitcher) are better illustrated, the photos are more crisp but best of all, there are many images of contemporary potters' work - Chris Keenan, Jane Hamlyn and Jack Doherty to name but three to add an element of encouragement whilst cleverly showing how each potter adds a personal twist or embellishment.
The projects section is still there but is almost unrecognisable because the same device of using the works of other potters to illustrate the advanced skills is very effective as they provide an incentive to master these challenges. Phethean then expands the scope of the book by including a final section on mini profiles of other potters including Simon Carroll, Walter Keeler and a personal hero of mine, Colin Pearson.
My only bugbear is that potters who use different clays know that they vary greatly in texture which affects how you throw them. I have personally found earthenware easiest to throw, followed by stoneware and then porcelain. So when books on throwing are written, they tend to be generic in their approach but by reading between the lines, you can glean which clay is the writer's preferred and in my experience, this can lead to the student mistakenly thinking they can get the same results with another clay if they just follow the same instructions. We need a textbook on throwing porcelain with the same attention to detail, now there's a gap in the market!
This is a good book, it has emerged fresh and smart from an update and deserves a place in your library.
Reproduced by kind permission of London Potters News.