Clay: A Studio Handbook

Originally published in 2001, Vince Pitelka’s Clay: A Studio Handbook has been an essential, all-inclusive studio text for students, studio artists, educators and all those interested in the art of clay for years. Now it is back fully updated, expanded, and better than ever with beautiful...(Scroll down for more.)

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Softcover | 319 Pages
Order code B121 | ISBN 978-1-57498-326-5

…color images. Clay: A Studio Handbook addresses the full range of ceramic processes, and brings a lifetime of ceramic knowledge directly into the hands of potters. A thorough table of contents, glossary of ceramic terms and raw materials, and index make finding answers quick and convenient.

Find the Answers

Assad Transformer TeapotProfessional potters, students, teachers—even serious weekend potters will find this book is their single best resource for gaining, retaining, and expanding a solid understanding of clay. And after that, this book helps you move your work forward, with detailed descriptions of techniques you may have tried and abandoned, or techniques you’ve been yearning to try out but didn’t have clear guidelines for. If you work with clay—or if you want to work with clay—you want this book; you need this book! If you’re a student enrolled in a class or someone looking for a creative outlet, this book is it. It covers everything you need to know about working with clay, from details about tools and materials to techniques for forming and firing.

And what if you’re serious, but not a professional? Clay: A Studio Handbook is like having a giant secret stash of Albany slip hidden away in your studio (see page 303 to see why that would be an advantage). Clay: A Studio Handbook answers life’s most pressing questions in the field of clay:

  1. Wilt Decaying OrbitWhy does my beautifully shaped bowl come out of the kiln twisted?
  2. How do I incorporate more color into my work without glazing my pieces to death?
  3. When are my pieces dry enough to fire? Can I accelerate the drying process without putting my work at risk?
  4. What do I do when everything I throw comes off the wheel and heads right back into the recycling pile?
  5. Who can help me solve the big problems and the little ones?


Portable Potter’s Guide

scan_167Clay: A Studio Handbook the ideal guide for ceramic artists. In nine thorough and clearly written chapters, Vince Pitelka demystifies some of the more complicated aspects of ceramics arts, and explains things in such clear detail that you’ll almost feel as if he’s in your studio with you! Concerned about safe and efficient studio operation, Pitelka pays diligent attention to safety practices and ergonomics in the studio.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Clay and Claybodies
What’s the nature of clay? How do different clay particles affect drying and firing? What’s going on with the clay at a molecular level and how do I affect that when I’m working with it? The first chapter of Clay: A Studio Handbook covers the basics of this basic material:

Chapter 2: Handbuilding
One of the most basic techniques of ceramic art, handbuilding connects us with some of the very first people who ever transformed clay from an amorphous lump into something with purpose and intent.

Chapter 3
Now, for some of us, there’s no making pottery unless it’s done on a wheel. Some people hold to that opinion, and others will die happy without ever having made a notable piece on the wheel. It’s all a matter of taste. You’ve already seen how much potential there is in handbuilding. But there’s always more available to do in ceramic art; that’s part of the joy of working with clay.

Chapter 4: Plaster Working, Mold Making, and Slip Casting
“Besides being a great general read, when I occasionally mix plaster, I pull it out to check the numbers. It also came in handy when mixing colored slips.” Jim Kasper

Chapter 5: Surface Decoration on Greenware
You have a lot of options for adorning your work either while it’s still damp or once it’s dry, including decorative effects during forming, impressed decoration, subtractive methods, additive methods, and burnishing and polishing.

Chapter 6: Glazes and Glazing
Once your work is dry, then you can consider the possibilities in glazing: You can make it as easy or as intricate as you like. Vince describes glazes, ingredients, mixing, and application–it’s all there.

Chapter 7
Sooner or later, you’ll need to fire your work to finish it. And, oh, the possibilities–gas, electric, wood, raku, pit, low-fire and high-fire–it’s all there.

Chapter 8: Mixed Media in Ceramics

You have a number of options you can explore once you’re really comfortable with the clay. Clay doesn’t have to stand alone as an expression of art. If you can mount it, wrap it, tie it, tack it, fasten it, frame it—you can incorporate all sorts of things into your work. It all depends on your mood and your meaning.

Chapter 9: Studio Safety
Inspiration and imagination are meaningless; the construction of the clay form counts for nothing, the fashion of your firing will be futile—if you don’t keep safety at the forefront of your work. From preparation to finishing, you’ll want to develop and maintain good safety practices.

Chapter 10: Studio Design, Setup, and Operation
When you’re ready to create your own space, or revamp the space you have, Clay: A Studio Handbook gives you the essentials you need to make your space truly your own.

Beyond all this clear, organized, practical information, Clay: A Studio Handbook includes a useful glossary of terms and raw materials, practical advice on repairing, fastening, and mounting your work, and informative charts that you’ll turn to time and again.

One Book, One Resource

Clay: A Studio Handbook is your single best potter’s resource, whether you’re just beginning, branching out, or looking for a resource to share with students, staff, and colleagues. Buy Clay: A Studio Handbook today and be a better potter from this day forward.


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