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Customer Review

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An essential addition to the reference collection, 7 Oct. 2011
This review is from: Ceramics: Tools and Techniques for the Contemporary Maker (Hardcover)
Books on ceramics are numerous and as the scope of the subject matter is so very wide and varied, the writer has many challenges when setting out to tackle the breadth and depth of the material in a manner that is useful, informative, accurate and most importantly, appealing so you want to return to it again and again. Few books have achieved this, Susan Peterson's The Art and Craft of Clay springs to mind, also her biographies of Shoji Hamada, Lucy Lewis and Maria Martinez and closer to home, Jack Doherty's and Peter Lane's books on porcelain also have the same tone of authority balanced by photos of exemplary work. But books that attempt to capture a fuller picture of ceramic tools and techniques are smaller in number and the excellent ones are even rarer.

Louisa Taylor's book is engaging and captivating from the very start. The photography is simply excellent so just a quick browse through leaves you with an initial visual impression of the content and it looks promising already. As I went through the sections on the second run at a slower pace, it was the scope of the material that came to the forefront and again, I was very impressed by the span of topics covered. Louisa treats each section with a methodical and methodological attention to detail which makes for clear instruction and subsequently a response of gratitude for such precise writing and considerable research. As you go from section to section, you can feel and appreciate the vision and effort required to produce this book which must have required huge reserves of the love of making and even more amounts of commitment to see the project through.

The editing and layout of the book is another area of delight. The graphics are excellent as I said but how the text and illustrations are laid out and the choice of colours for the backgrounds and sections, these all work to create an atmosphere of creativity, of beautiful design and most importantly, of encouragement to the maker regardless of their status, background or reason for reading the book. Another clever aspect of this book is how this vast body of information has been divided into types of techniques and products (tableware, vessel, sculpture etc) and so instantly, a sense of context has been employed to provide a basis for deep instruction and insights from the author. Louisa then profiles contemporary makers in each of these contexts to provide yet more tips and insights from the experts themselves. Although a lot of writers use the profile as a tool to augment the content of their overall book, few have managed to merge the profile with the overall character of the book as well as this one.

Only 2 niggles from me - the bigger one being the odd juxtaposition of clear British English with American spellings. So moulds become molds and the practice of clay becomes the practise which to this reviewer is always a verb and not a noun. I think the publisher should consider releasing a British version as soon as possible. The second query is about Louisa's approach to reduction firing in which she recommends only one firing regime. As a reduction firer myself, I know that different glazes respond to different firing regimes so perhaps this section was a little too focused. But these two observations do not detract from the quality of this publication. It belongs in the hallowed ranks of reference books so get it, do not hesitate at all.

Reproduced with kind permission by London Potters News
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 10 Feb 2012 08:38:54 GMT
John Howell says:
Excellent review - well thought out and well written. I am encouraged to see your comments about the use of American spellings.

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Feb 2012 09:46:18 GMT
Many thanks for your kind words. I met Louisa at Origin in 2011 and her professionalism, attention to detail and commitment to education were outstanding so her book very much reflects her ethos.

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Location: London, UK

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