21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
A Potter's Bible,
This review is from: Potter's Book (Paperback)
After ten years of Pottery (at the level of serious hobbyist) I finally read the Leach magnum opus, and feel rather like the foolish convert to a religion who has only just got around to reading its holy book. All potters should read it. For studio pottery, this is where it starts.
The first two chapters are philosophical and chewy. It is soon apparent that Leach was a towering intellectual and polymath as well as a turning-point in the history of art. They reward reading, and explain why he regards the pots of the Sung (Song) dynasty as superior to everything else. From the third chapter the content is more practical but still, and brilliantly, infused with Leach's strong opinions about what's good and what's bad. And that's why the book is such a good read, it's a far remove from modern pottery texts, which are either dry technical manuals (all be it with glossy photos to make them look like coffee table books) or magazine articles (Ceramic Review) in pure arty-farty-Tate-Modern speak. Leach, sensible, passionate, technically detailed and evangelical about good style all at the same time, is deeply, joyously refreshing.
A few parts are obsolete - enjoinders to paint the iron hoops on your glaze barrels to prevent rust contamination - but nonetheless fascinating as technical history. What was happening in the world in September 1939? Why there was a firing at St Ives of course, and here is the detailed report, with firing log (a thing of artistic beauty in itself) and a description of a week in his workshop done in the form of an exchange of letters.
Full of bits you never knew - "Oh, so that's why it's done that way!" - and bits you'll want to write out as inspiring quotations to treasure. Old, out of publication at the moment (what a sin!) but a true inspiration, which I'm sure, will be a lasting one to any reader.