Literary Gluttony

Shay Amber Wall Pocket

A plethora of new books on ceramics were published these past few days — exhibition catalogs, how to books, a bit of history — and I greedily want to devour them all in one reading gulp. They are stacked beside me on the red couch, along with seed catalogs, some gardening magazines, and a few other books.

When a book is lavishly illustrated, as ceramics books usually are, I have a habit of looking at all the photos and reading the captions before actually reading the book. And then, when I do read the text, I reread the captions. I read magazines this way too, especially gardening and pottery magazines, but worse, I flip through them from back to front.

I don’t know how I got into this habit.  You needn’t tell me that it’s crazy. I realize that. Now though, with the wealth of new clay books enticing me, I allow myself to read the captions in the entire stack. It’s quite an indulgence when there is so work to do but honestly, how much harm is there in a little literary gluttony now and then?

Finally, I choose one, Hand Building, by Shay Amber, to read through. I pick it because I primarily throw and I think it will be good to read about something else. It’s an attractive book, with French flaps and excellent photography. It’s meant for beginners. For someone new to clay, it would be very helpful.

I enjoy looking at the projects and the gallery pages. I am always interested in how others do things. The how-to sections are clear and offer step-by-step photos. Amber’s interpretation of the once ubiquitous wall pocket is quite original, with a stained applique rim and a combination of rough clay and glazed panel. I do not foresee anyone sticking dried weeds into it! Her footed square plates would be nice for serving cake and ice cream or perhaps appetizers at a party. I also liked her emphasis on surface decoration. So yes, a book worth spending time with.

Now, I will go glaze the large plates that have been drying and ponder which book I will read next.

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