Start Handbuilding Your Masterpiece
By Jacqui Atkin
Barron’s, $24.99, 192 pages
Since prehistoric times, people have been making pottery by hand, creating functional vessels and beautiful masterpieces. Handbuilt Pottery Techniques Revealed, by Jacqui Atkin, is an amazing resource for modern-day potters looking for guidance when using their hands to work with clay. This extended edition has 32 all-new pages. Beginning potters will appreciate the sections introducing tools to purchase, types of clay to choose from (earthenware, stoneware and porcelain) and how to prepare and care for clay. The book’s four technique chapters (coiling, pinching, slabbing and molding) offer step-by-step instructions along with color photos showing the entire process. After the specific technique is explained, individual projects offer variations on the basic form that potters can try. Choose from a garden sculpture, bowl set, widow box, butter dish, ginkgo vase, clay birds and more.
What makes this book so unique are the cutaway photographs that show what is happening on the inside of the project. This takes the mystery out of handbuilding because it shows the hand positions inside and outside the pot. Red and green arrows demonstrate how each hand should move during each step (i.e., whether it should pull, lift, support, push, shape or reinforce the clay). High school and college art teachers could easily incorporate this text into their curriculum. Photos of the finished pieces and a gallery section at the end of the book will inspire any artist to pick a project and begin handbuilding a work of art.
Reviewed by Elizabeth Franklin