Friday, August 15, 2014

Book Review: Surfaces, Glazes & Firing

Sometimes Lady Luck is just on your side, you know?  I had checked out a book from the library called,  Surfaces, Glazes & Firing by Angelica Pozo.  It is part of Lark Book's Ceramics For Beginners series.  I liked the book so well that I wanted to add it to my personal library, so I went online to purchase it.  I don't know if the book is out of print or what, but Amazon is asking $75 for a new copy!  The list price is $25. I looked at other online book sources and there were all asking $75 and up! One site was asking over $200!  I liked this book, but no way was I going to pay $75 for it!
So I just decided that I'd have to check the book out from the library whenever I wanted to refer to it.  A couple of weeks later I was at Barnes and Nobles looking for a puzzle for my dad's birthday and low and behold, there was one copy of the book on the clearance table for only $13.00!  I kid you not!  Yea!

So here's why I wanted this book.  Information about glazes and surface treatments can get overwhelming to a novice and many of the books I looked at seemed more like chemistry textbooks than an intro to ceramics. I needed something like the equivalent of a Ceramic Surface Design For Dummies book.  Nothing I saw fit the bill.   I started to feel like I would never be able to get the hang of this new clay addiction of mine.

When I first started out, things like the difference between a cone 06 and a cone 6 firing were confusing.  I wondered if it was just another way to write the same thing.   I didn't know if I could use a low fire glaze at cone 6.  I wondered if earthenware was mid-fire or low fire.  I was unclear about the difference between an underglaze and an overglaze? What did it mean when people said that a particular glaze "moved"?  The questions bombarded me like a meteor shower. Surfaces, Glazes & Firing started to help clear up the muddle in my head.
The book starts with an overview of the ceramic process and the techniques to be covered in the book.  Next Ms. Pozo follows the ceramic process from wet ware and leather-hard, to greenware and bisque, to glaze firing and beyond.  At each step of the clay sequence, she explains techniques that can be used, at that stage, to develop texture and design on the surface of the clay.  There are lots of pictures to help demonstrate the techniques, however, despite what are intended as step-by-step pictures, I sometimes, still had difficulty following some of the techniques being explained.  I think it is difficult for someone who is a master in a skill, to realize how much you have to break down the steps and sub-steps for someone who has no prior experience.  This would be my only criticism of this book and it wasn't a problem for most of the techniques.  It was only an issue in a few cases.

The book has instructions and suggestions for exploration in carving, stamping, using slips, glazes and oxides.  It goes into sgraffito, brushwork, majolica, and the use of color, shape and pattern.  Lastly it takes a look at kilns and firing.

Although not specifically aimed at the bead artist, there is a treasure trove of information and ideas here, that can be applied to our specific niche. Its unlikely that you'll be as lucky as I was and get a brand new book at half price.  However, I would suggest looking in a used book store, borrowing it from a friend or checking it out from your regional library system.  It is well worth a little extra searching.



  1. I'm going to find this at the library!! As you know I'm not doing ceramics...yet!!! But it's on my list, pretty high up there too! You're so lucky you found it locally!!!

  2. Great blog article Linda, I did not know that there was so much involved in ceramics. I am glad that you found the book, your muse was looking out for you.

  3. Gotta love those clearance tables! I think I need to visit a few real bookshops to see if anyone might have a spare copy of this one. Great review!

  4. Great find! This book is on my wish list too, but isn't available in my library. I will use it as an excuse to visit more bookshops!


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