A Potter’s Workbook by Clary Illian

A Potter's WorkbookSeveral years ago I had the pleasure of spending two days at a workshop where Clary Illian threw pots on a treadle wheel and talked about the shapes she made and her life as a a potter. Her book, A Potter’s Workbook, is much like that workshop: simple and unadorned, yet thought-provoking. With the help of photographs of leatherhard pots, mostly thrown by students, and her own line drawings, Illian discusses the internal space and energy of different cilander shapes, the effects of rims and bases, options for adding handles, spouts and lids, and the dynamic flow of the curve of a bowl. In the concluding chapters Illian encourages potters to train the eye to truly see the curves and proportions of a pot in order to begin to “succeed intentionally rather than by happy accident” and to be aware of the sources of one’s preferred shapes and then move forward to express one’s own voice. Illian succeeds in her hope that this book will “provide a way to see, to make, and to think about the forms of wheel-thrown vessels” and provides a valuable resource for potters who have mastered the basics of throwing and are now tackling the intricacies of form, or for experienced throwers who want to better understand the shapes they produce.

Now I see that a DVD called A Year in the Life: the Biography of Clary Illian is available. Here’s an excerpt:

Life in Clay: Clary Illian extended sequences from atomburke on Vimeo.

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