Handbuilt: A Potter's Guide

In Handbuilt: A Potter's Guide, Asheville, North Carolina, potter Melissa Weiss shows you how to harvest and work wild clay, use natural glazes, and make beautiful, unique pots without a wheel. (Scroll down for more!)


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Hardcover | 160 pages
B209 | ISBN: 978-1-63159-598-1

A Labor of Love

Melissa takes you along as she digs and processes her own clay. You’ll learn how to turn “wild clay” into a workable clay body. From drying, to screening, to mixing, to draining, Melissa shares her process from start fo finish. Though the process is labor-intensive, Melissa explains the rewards of creating a clay body that has all of the characteristics she desires.

Handbuilding Projects to Inspire You

From serving trays from slabs and coils, to vases and pitchers made by putting together two bowls, to cups made using the Japanese kurinuki method to make cups, Weiss covers some familiar and not-so familiar ways of handbuilding with clay. You’ll learn ways to get creative with bisque molds, as well as a variety of techniques for making feet and handles.

Surface Techniques and More!

You’ll also learn how to make custom glazes with ash, salt, and other dry materials, and various surface decoration techniques including wax resist, sgraffito, and carving. For more inspiration, you’ll be introduced to other talented contemporary potters, who share their work, tips, advice, and techniques.

Handbuilt pottery is the perfect way for new potters to dive into this unique medium because it doesn’t require access to a potter’s wheel. In this book, Melissa provides a solid course on slab and pinch-pot techniques that allow beginning students to master the basics and progress through finished wares, as well as challenges for more experienced potters to help them take their work up a few notches.

The author

Melissa Weiss is an Asheville, North Carolina, potter and a true handmade maker. Each pot she makes contains clay that she digs up on her land in Arkansas. From there, she drives the clay back to her studio in Asheville where she cleans it and incorporates it into her clay bodies. Melissa makes a variety of ash and celadon glazes and fires her pots in a gas reduction kiln. Melissa teaches classes in handbuilding at intervals throughout the year, including at the famous Penland Art School and the North Carolina Pottery Center. She also operates an 8,000 square foot art cooperative called Southside Studios that houses studio space for twenty potters. Melissa participates in shows in Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago and exhibits her work in galleries from New York City, to Fayetteville Arkansas.

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