Bibliography and technical notes
I thought a few technical notes and sources of influences in my work might interest the potters who get this far!
I used to mix my own stoneware by hand but these days I buy prepared clays - Standard 308 and 306 - and blend them in a Shimpo pugmill in a rough 3:1 ratio. 308 gives me a warmer color, 306 extends the firing range. I mix the porcelain by hand but finish it in the pugmill. The recipe is based on the standard 50% clay 25% Feldspar, 25% Silica.
I fire to cone 8 or 9 depending on the glaze. I use a Skutt 1027 kiln with a kiln sitter. I also have a smaller Skutt kiln that I use for odd pieces and tests. I long for a big boy's kiln but the economics are not favorable - yet.
I develop and mix my own glazes. I prefer not to share recipes because I think potters should work out their own - besides there is no shortage of recipes out there. However, here are some good resources:
Mastering Cone 6 Glazes, Hesselberth & Roy. No longer in print but you can get a black and white copy online. Also very useful is the glaze software that Hesselberth sells separately.
The Complete Guide to High Fire Glazes, John Britt. A huge compendium of recipes for almost every type of glaze plus good tips on glaze application. His suggestions for glaze thickness seem a bit off, however. Hesselberth's glaze software comes in very handy here if you need to modify a recipe for alternative materials or temperature.
There are lots of others, such as those by Daniel Rhodes, Emmanuel Cooper, but these are the two I find myself turning to most these days. Nigel Wood's little volume on Oriental Glazes is also worth looking for - explains the simple secret of iron blue glazes - no titanium!
I wish the pottery magazines would do more to identify good potters' tools the way the woodworking magazines do for woodworkers. There are a lot of bad ones out there. My glazing tongs are a particular peeve. If you find tools that work for you - treasure them! A couple of useful but less well known sources are www.bambootools.com and http://www.japanpotterytools.com/
Books on Technique:
There are a lot of them! Two that I find myself coming back to more often are:
The Illustrated Dictionary of Practical Pottery, Robert Fournier
The Craft of the Potter, Michael Casson
Books for Inspiration:
Museums are the best place. The V&A in London has an unbelievable collection. I'm still waiting for my visit to the Everson Museum in Syracuse - hopefully in my lifetime! Perhaps my most unforgettable visit was to the Kuwait National Museum the al-Sabah Collection. This was before the Iraqi invasion. Don't know what happened to it afterwards but I have the book - you can get it on Amazon (12/1/16) for about $4. Don't wait! It's glorious.
Aside from museums, books have been a major source and all of the following are currently available (12/1/16):
Bernard Leach, obviously: A Potter's Book: his massive tome Hamada Potter; A Potter's Work: and A Potter's Challenge. The Chinese bowl on page 50 of the latter, along with a Chinese bottle in the Metropolitan Museum (http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/50230) that I went to see over and over, are a constant presence for me.
Shoji Hamada, A Potter's Way and Work, Susan Peterson
The Art of Bernard Leach, Carol Hogben
Lucie Rie, John Houston and David Cripps
Lucie Rie, Tony Birks
Hans Coper, Tony Birks