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Book Review

The Potter's Complete Book of Clay and Glazes
by James Chappel

As the subtitle suggests, this is a 'comprehensive guide to formulating, mixing, applying and firing clay bodies and glazes'.

The book is divided into two main sections: clays and glazes. The clay section begins with clay body types and explains primary and secondary clays and defines clay types such as earthenware or porcelain. The next section deals with digging your own clays and tells you where to look for them, how to test and process them amongst other things.

The next large section lists hundreds of clay body formulas to mix yourself from the ingredients indicated and includes sections on all clay types plus egyptian paste, engobes and stains. Clays are subdivided into throwing and casting bodies and clays for sculpture.

The second half of the book deals with glazes and begins by explaining glaze types such as ash glazes or crystalline gazes. There is also a chapter on glaze preparation. The next chapters list hundreds of glazes, including single-fire glazes, wide-firing glazes, special effects glazes (e.g. high firing boiling glaze), celadons, copper-reds, ash, slip, salt and soda glazes, not to mention the earthenware and stoneware glazes of various kinds.

A further chapter deals with glaze defects and colorants and an appendix includes a dictionary of clay and glaze compounds, analysis, temperature and colorant charts.

This is a comprehensive publication and just about the only book you will ever need to get a wide range of formulas for clays and glazes. But beware - this is not a beginners manual but a reference book for the ceramics professional, although much helpful advice is given on various topics. The hardcover boasts over 400 pages and includes hundreds of recipes, all neatly sorted, indexed and easy to use. The only drawback is the inclusion of US-American ingredients (e.g. Kentucky ball clay) in many recipes, so if you live outside the US, you will have to substitute these with local ingredients in some cases.


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