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Ceramics Monthly Master Class

Welcome to Ceramics Monthly's Master Class. These articles contain advanced technical and critical content from the pages of Ceramics Monthly magazine. Topics can range from glaze formulation and chemistry to kiln construction and firing techniques to aesthetic criticism, and all come from the top experts in the field. We hope this archive will be helpful and valuable to you, both in the studio as well as the classroom. To get great, new content like this delivered right to your door, subscribe to Ceramics Monthly today. Do you have a topic idea for a Master Class article? Send a letter to the editor.


An Experienced Wood Firer Shares Kiln Plans for a Small Instructional Wood Kiln

Posted On November 19, 2012 4 Comments

In this post, experienced wood firing potter John Thies tells us about an instructional wood kiln he designed and shares his kiln plans. Plus, one of John’s students shares her experience using the kiln.


Cooking with Clay for Slow Food and a Healthy World

Posted On June 27, 2012 13 Comments

A potter establishes a line of ware to reflect her social values regarding how food is produced and consumed.

Selenium/Cadmium Red

Techno File: Four Ways to Reliable Red Ceramic Glazes

Posted On June 13, 2011 11 Comments

In today’s post, an excerpt from our latest free download, the 2011 Clay Workshop Handbook: Knowledge and Techniques for the Pottery Studio, Dave Finkelnberg explains four ways to get great red glazes and shares four fabulous red glaze recipes, from low-fire to high fire reduction. Have a look and then download your free copy of the 2011 Clay Workshop Handbook! Even if you are not going to a workshop this summer, there’s something in the handbook for you!

Base glaze N501 with 5 % cobalt carbonate added

Expanding Your Palette in Mid-Range Firing

Posted On December 14, 2010 5 Comments

Many people may be thinking about switching their firing method from high-fire to mid-range. For instance, students who recently graduated and lost access to school gas kilns, people with a day job and those who work in their garage studios, or production potters who are concerned about fuel conservation and energy savings. This reference is intended as a tool for those people to start glaze experimentation at mid-range that can be accomplished with minimal resources.


Critical Care: The Art of Self Critique

Posted On March 1, 2010 11 Comments

I use one tool everyday, on every pot or sculpture, whether I made it or not. This pervasive tool is critical analysis, and I use it to assess the pot I am currently throwing, the work I made yesterday and the work I made years ago.


How Glazes Melt: In Search of the Elusive Eutectic

Posted On December 9, 2009 2 Comments

Phases are specific forms of materials. The most familiar phases are solid, liquid and vapor. Any phase of a material is identical in composition and structure in all parts of that phase. For instance, a glass of water is the liquid phase of H2O, top to bottom; if it weren’t, we’d call it something else, like ice if it were solid (structural change), or lemonade if it had lemon and sugar dissolved in it (compositional change).


Hugh Jenkins’ Volcano Kiln: Recuperating Waste Heat for Efficient Firing

Posted On December 9, 2009 3 Comments

As a studio artist, it is often hard to spend large sums of money, even if doing so would pay off in the long run, so glass artist Hugh Jenkins set out to determine just how well he could do with a home-built heat recuperator.

Large plate, 19½ in. (50 cm) in diameter, stoneware with celadon glaze, by Shinsaku Hamada.

Three Generations of Hamada Potters

Posted On December 8, 2009 1 Comment

Of all the well-known Japanese ceramic artists of the past four hundred years, men like Raku ware’s Chojiro, the Kyoto designers and decorators Ninsei Nonomura and Kenzan Ogata, and the innovative and technically brilliant Kozan Makuzu, by far the most famous and influential has been the twentieth century folk craft (mingei)  movement potter Shoji Hamada (1894-1978).


Landfill Gas and Alternative Fuels

Posted On December 7, 2009 0 Comments

Significant cost savings can be realized by potters without access to a landfill through a variety of strategies and fuel choices. These can be divided into categories and discussed in terms of benefits and difficulties. Solid fuels are difficult, liquid fuels are moderate, and gases are easier.

Click to see larger image

French Fried Pots

Posted On November 17, 2009 0 Comments

Initially, I placed a 30-gallon plastic barrel outside one such diner that had agreed to save the used oil for me. My plan was to swap out the barrel every five weeks (the owner predicted it would take that long to fill the barrel) and replace it with an empty 30-gallon barrel. I learned two facts immediately: First, I couldn’t lift the full barrel of oil onto the back of my pick-up truck. Secondly, used, hot oil will melt plastic barrels.