Order Mastering the Potter’s Wheel by Ben Carter, one of our favorite pottery podcasters and 2016 Artist of the Year according to Ceramics Monthly and Pottery Making Illustrated.
Ben gave away some pre-release copies so I jumped at the chance. As you can probably guess, I was excited to open it up when it arrived in the mail. Considering Ben’s fabulous ceramic work, his well-done podcast and his reputation as a great teacher and generally cool human, I had very high expectations.
I was not disappointed.
The book I received is a hardcover, 208 pages, a little larger than 8×10″. The list price is $30 but it is listed on Amazon for about $23 at the time of this writing. You can also get the Kindle version for $20. The official release date is June 1st, 2016.
The pages are not glossy, more of a satin matte glaze surface, close to regular printer paper. The thing that really stuck out to me immediately is the amount, and quality, of the images. There are over 200 quality images in various sizes of Ben showing some part of the pottery making process.
There are also about 150 images of finished pots by some of the best ceramic artists currently working with clay. These finished pieces help inspire the reader and illustrate the techniques in each part of the book. It is obvious that Ben took great care to find quality work. He explains clearly why many of the pots are great examples of the techniques he is teaching.
The book is broken into seven chapters which are each broken into smaller sections.
- The Basics
- Building Wheel Skills
- Making Lids, Knobs, Handles, and Spouts
- Setting the Table
- Altering Pots
- Throwing Large
- Decorating and Finishing
At the end you can find resources, acknowledgements, about the author, and the index.
Ben does a nice job explaining all aspects of using the pottery wheel. He gives some good advice for beginners but also goes deep enough into advanced techniques that this book is beneficial for potters at any skill level. He finds a nice balance between going on and on with too much detail and not giving the reader everything they need to know.
Ben also does a nice job incorporating other experts into the book. Not only does he have a bunch of great pots to inspire us and teach with, he also had professionals like Ron Schmidt offer advice on biomechanics, Adam Field share his Onggi pot technique, and Linda Arbuckle write the foreword.
There is also some brief technical information including recipes and firing schedules to get you started with the rest of the pottery process after you have mastered the potter’s wheel.
My favorite part of the book is the Skill Building feature. A handful of times throughout the book Ben offers specific challenges or exercises designed to help you improve your skills on the pottery wheel.
I would recommend this book to any potter that uses or wants to learn about mastering the potter’s wheel. At $30 or less it is a great addition to any ceramic library. Even if you are already a master of the potter’s wheel, you will surely find some inspiration in the pages of this book.
You can order Mastering the Potter’s Wheel on Amazon.
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I like this book