5 Excellent Ceramics and Pottery Books for Your Bookshelf

From its rich history to key techniques and beyond, explore the world of ceramics with these reads

The renaissance of ceramics as an art that not only enables practitioners to create everyday decorative pieces, but also as a craft that encourages experimentation, is something we've all witnessed in recent years.

But the fact that ceramics has an ancient history encompassing hundreds of techniques can make it tricky to know how to get started with this creative (and therapeutic) artform without some guidance.

Ceramic art by Catalina Cumsille, featured in her course: Floral Illustration on Ceramic.

Graphic artist and ceramicist Catalina Cumsille’s (@catalinacumsille) is always experimenting with her creations. Her illustrated ceramics are inspired by the shapes and colors of plants, trees, and animals; and her works have been featured in some of Chile’s leading magazines, like Paula, MásDeco, and Velvet.

Here, she's selected five must-read books from her own reference library for budding potters. These will help you understand how ceramics techniques have evolved, the work of the key figures in contemporary pottery, and the importance of the cities where it developed.

Read on to explore the fascinating world of clay!

Clay: Contemporary Ceramic Artisans, by Amber Creswell Bell

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Discover the fifty most interesting ceramic studios in this book by Amber Creswell Bell.

Amber Creswell Bell believes that the boom in digital culture and the saturation of mass-manufactured objects has given birth to a new phase in ceramic culture.

The ancient art is having more than a moment, thanks to our renewed desire to feel and experience materials in our hands. This has also stimulated a new interest in young potters.

In Clay: Contemporary Ceramic Artisans, Creswell Bell explores fifty studios around the world known for their particular way of approaching ceramics. From the most functional to the most decorative to the experimental, this book allows you to see the latest international works and discover a new way of understanding ceramics.

New Wave Clay: Ceramic Design, Art and Architecture, by Tom Morris

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Discover current ceramic thinking with artists and designers including Edmund de Waal and Grayson Perry.

New Wave Clay: Ceramic Design, Art and Architecture is a richly illustrated guide that approaches the latest crossovers between disciplines as diverse as architecture, art, graphic design, and ceramics.

Author Tom Morris also points to the booming interest in ceramics as a direct consequence of our relationship with digital environments and objects. He uses this as the basis for his exploration of the limits and new ways of understanding ceramics from a multidisciplinary perspective.

His book is divided into four thematic sections and looks at more than fifty ceramicists he believes are leading the ceramic renaissance. Contributions from designers and artists such as Edmund de Waal, Hella Jongerius, Grayson Perry, Martin Brudnizki, and Sarah Griffin are also worthy of note.

The Great Pottery Throwdown, by Liz Wilhide and Sarah Hodge

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Review the history of ceramics, techniques, and renowned potters in this book by Liz Wilhide and Susie Hodge.

So, now know that ceramic art is having a renaissance, perhaps it’s time to ask why? Reviewing its history and how the artform evolved is fundamental to understanding how it became what it is today.

Liz Wilhide and Sarah Hodge share photographs and detailed illustrations for each technique, helping readers discover the art of pottery through different ways of using clay. They cover everything from the materials required to the processes that give each technique its own style.

The Great Pottery Throwdown is an essential journey allowing you to understand this world, from its beginnings in the Paleolithic period to its current forms.

Urban Potters: Makers in the City, by Katie Treggiden

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Discover how New York, London, Tokyo, Copenhagen, Sidney and São Paulo are home to a new generation of ceramic artists.

Paying particular interest to the cities in which ceramics are becoming increasingly popular—and to their resident artists—Katie Treggiden’s book is essential for anyone who wants to delve into the epicenters of this new movement.

Katie focuses on cities like New York, London, Tokyo, Copenhagen, Sydney, and São Paulo as the centers giving birth to a new generation of ceramists, artists, and designers.

Urban Potters: Makers in the City provides a detailed portrait of the twenty-seven young artists redefining the medium, as well as a guide to the best places to buy ceramics in the six cities it explores. The book approaches their work, influences, inspirations, and studios as a way of looking at the world of ceramics through new eyes.

Crear con cerámica: Principios básicos, técnicas, proyectos e inspiración, by Maria Skärlund

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Start creating your own ceramic works by getting to know the materials, processes and tools you need.

Available in Spanish, Swedish, and French, Crear con cerámica (Creating with Clay: Basic Principles, Techniques, Projects and inspiration) is a wonderful introduction to the world of ceramics if rolling up your sleeves is your favorite way to start.

This beginners manual is fundamental when you’re starting out. It provides interesting information about the materials, concepts, and techniques you need to use.

Maria Skärlund focuses on designing projects, such as creating bowls, plates, tiles, mugs, loving cups, dishes, stands, and candlesticks. She approaches the objects potters often create, commenting on the processes needed to create each one and giving you the tools to develop your own creativity.

The book is divided into three main sections: Technique and Creativity, Categories and Projects, and Step-by-Step Instructions. Each one covers the main aspects you need to start developing the hands and knowledge of a practicing ceramic artist.

All read-up and ready to keep exploring? While Catalina’s selection of books brings you closer to the history, evolution, techniques, and key figures of ceramics, if you're ready to start creating your own work, sign up for Catalina Cumsille’s course, Floral Illustration on Ceramic. She teaches you how to combine two artistic disciplines to create colorful work.

English version by @studiogaunt.

You may also like:

- 13 Free Tutorials for Creating at Home Using DIY Techniques
- 5 Free Online Ceramics Classes to Learn How to Illustrate Your Pieces
- Materials to Do Pottery at Home
- Creating Your First Ceramic Vessel, course by Lilly Maetzig

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