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Book Review

Contemporary Porcelain
by Peter Lane

Peter Lanes recent publication Contemporary Porcelain, Materials, Techniques and Expressions continues where his previous book Studio Porcelain left off in 1980. The new publication examines developments in porcelain amongst world studio potters, taking in changes in perception and design, materials and techniques, that have transpired in that period.

The author, himself an accomplished ceramic artist, has truly surveyed the international studio porcelain scene in this beautifully rendered publication. Lane begins with a scrutiny of developments in studio porcelain over the past few decades, then moves on to more technical areas, describing the qualities and properties of porcelain, such as whiteness and translucency. recipes for porcelain clay bodies are also included in this section.. This is followed by a survey of forming processes, such as wheel-throwing, slip-casting and other techniques. A chapter on 'Inspiration in /Design of Form' covers different forms of expression realised by porcelain artists, including vessels and sculptures. Of interest here is the departure by some porcelain artists from the traditional interpretation of porcelain as a white, translucent, vessel oriented material -- with sculptural results that can be truly amazing. Of course the purity of the material offers a very seductive surface for decoration. Lane describes painted decorative techniques, water-soluble colorants, lustres, carving and piercing and inlay amongst others. The final chapter deals with porcelain glazes and glaze experiments.

Do not be misled into believing that Contemporary Porcelain, Materials, Techniques and Expressions is an instructional handbook. It is not. While the studio potter will find much inspiration and useful explanations in this book, the publication cleverly weaves in the ideological and technical data while describing the work of many well-known and some lesser-known but innovative porcelain artists. While getting to know the work of such artists as Arne Åse, Jeroen Bechtold, Elaine and Tom Coleman, Greg Daly, Margaret Frith, Andrea Hylands, Karl and Ursula Scheid, or Geoffry Swindell, to name only a few, the ceramist, collector, student or non-initiate learns much about the soul of porcelain and after having read this book, can easily participate in insider discussions on the topic.

With its many illustrations in black & white and full color, this hardcover publication is a beautiul work, which should be sitting on the shelves of anybody interested in contemporary ceramics.

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