“Mastering Handbuilding” book, 3.22.2018

I recently purchased and read Sunshine Cobb‘s latest book titled “Mastering Hand Building: Techniques, Tips, and Tricks for Slabs, Coils, and More.” I suppose I could’ve waited until my public library bought the book, but I am impatient at times;)  Plus, I wanted to own it because 1) it was written by a woman, 2) I like this woman’s ceramics, and 3) I want to improve in my handbuilding skills. I figured it’d be a good reference book to own.


It was a quick read. Cobb had plenty of handbuilding tips, but I think she glossed over the steps a bit. I wanted more details – more specifics to each step of the process. I knew most of what she included, although I learned a few new tricks and tips.  She includes plenty of photos from other artists, showing a variety of styles and objects one can create. Also there are several short featured artist interviews that are inspiring. Plus, there are a couple pages of templates one can cut out and use to create a form.

My favorite chapter was “Developing Content,” about how one might develop ideas and express a vision in ceramics. And these tips can be applied to any art form!)

  • Find your inspiration – what images are you drawn to?
  • Set your intention – how do you express YOU in your art?
  • Connect to an audience and get honest feedback (these should be two different heading but she combined them into one.) For the first, Connect to your audience – don’t make work for the audience – make it for YOU! At the same time, how can you help your audience understand what you’re trying to convey? And for the second, Getting honest feedback – become your own best critic and find others who will tell you the truth. (One of my long term desires is to be part of an art critique group. One day that’ll happen!)
  • Stay motivated
  • Avoid stumbling blocks – including don’t just make pots to make pots; don’t forget the cerebral component; don’t be overly critical, and ACT on ideas to bring you closer to your vision.

This is probably a book focused to the beginner, but a more advanced artist will probably glean something from reading this book.

On Instagram, I usually post pics and a rating of books I read. I rate the books with a scoring system of 1 to 5 hearts. I’ll give this book a four heart rating! If you get the opportunity to read it, I’d enjoy reading your critique!


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