Recent Articles

A FLARE FOR CLAY     Moira Vincentelli Ceramic Review July/August 2016


Read article


NEW WORK BY JANE PERRYMAN  Linda Theophilus Neue Keramik August 2016


Read article 


CONTAINING TIME – JANE PERRYMAN’S NEW APPROACH TO THE VESSEL   Esther Carliner Viros Ceramics Monthly October 2015


Read article 



SMOKE FIRING CONTEMPORARY ARTISTS AND APPROACHES Published 2008 A&C Black, University of Pennsylvania Press, La Revue de la Ceramique and Haupt. ISBN 978-0-7136-6985-5


‘Smoke Firing is an ancient firing method, used to both fire raw clay into durable ceramic and also to decorate it with smoke designs. Its technological simplicity not only lends itself to endless interpretations but also encourages artistic creativity through improvisation and experimentation. Smoke Firing is a thorough survey of the varied work and approaches of contemporary artists today, showing recent innovative developments. By investigating the ideas of selected ceramists Jane Perryman reveals the meanings and inspiration behind their work. Clear and colourful images demonstrate the various processes used, showing sequences of artists in action. The book covers smoke firing using bonfires, various containers, earth pits, saggars and kilns, with a chapter on how smoke firing can be used as an educational tool within groups and workshops. Dynamic illustrations feature the work of 29 artists represented from 17 different countries, making it a truly international focus on smoke firing.’

Price £30
Purchase ‘Smoke Firing’ from Amazon or Bloomsbury Publishing


Modern potters who choose to work with such techniques today do so because they can achieve distinctive surface tones and patterns by manipulating the passage and intensity of smoke to impregnate their works.

Published 2004 A&C Black ISBN 978-0-7136-6985-5


‘A growing number of ceramic artists now choose not to glaze their work. Instead they use an unglazed – naked – surface to achieve their design objectives. From slips and terra sigillata to burnishing, engobes, oxide washes and additions to the clay body, there is a wide range of techniques these artists employ to achieve desirable finishes. As these techniques are suitable for a broad spectrum of processes, subject matter and context (from slip casting to hand building, from high to low firing temperatures, from figurative to conceptual, from domestic to public), the scope of the work produced by these artists is enormous. In ‘Naked Clay’ Jane Perryman not only presents the finished ceramics and techniques of an international group of artists but also investigates their ideas and areas of inspiration to further an understanding of their work. Each artist presented here has a unique style and way of working , but they are all connected through their committed relationship to the material and their desire to express their ideas using ‘naked clay’.

This beautifully illustrated book will not only inform and inspire students, professionals and teachers, but it will also fascinate collectors and indeed anyone with an interest in contemporary ceramics.

Price: £30
ISBN 0-7136-5309-4
purchase ‘Naked Clay’ from Amazon or


“There is always a beginning. In the beginning, therefore, there was only earth. Only clay. Only naked clay.

Jane Perryman’s fine new book, Naked Clay: Ceramics Without Glazes, introduces us to the validity of using clay by itself as a medium of artistic expression, without clothing it in glaze. And in its pages we meet ceramic artists who work in this manner without glazes. more
In a field obsessed with the technology of covering the pot with glazes for purposes of color, decoration or utility, the suggestion that this may not be necessary or even desirable may strike some as apostasy. Most of us working in ceramics now are rooted in the technology based on the Bernard Leach and the European tradition, as well as that of Chinese and Japanese aesthetics. Yet Jane Perryman makes a strong case for the integration between form and the unglazed surface that allows the clay to breathe and absorb light in an entirely natural way.
In her book Perryman deals with four aspects of clay without glaze: 1. Clay with surface pigment; 2. Clay marked by fire; 3. Pure clay; and 4. Clay with additions. She brings to her book the works and words of forty-four ceramic artists from around the world whose work lies within these categories. Many of them she visited, interviewed and photographed in person. They provide a wide selection of personal and cultural interests for those looking for new directions in clay art. Among the ceramicists described are: Elizabeth Fritsch, an English artist, whose elegant dry-matt surfaces extend the volumes of her vessels by a vocabulary inspired by music; Yo Akiyama, a Japanese ceramist who draws his inspiration from the natural rock strata, among other things; Lawson Oyekan, whose work ‘in the flesh’ has a forceful presence impossible to ignore, and whose work is built up in ‘families’ by overlapping sections of soft clay without slip or water, and into which a knife is thrust and twisted to represent sharp jabs of experience; Thomas Hoadley, an American nerikomi artist, creating handmade bowls into which are inserted slabs of clay made from patterned clay pressed into a plaster mold and combined like patches of fabric on an Amish quilt; Elspeth Owen, from the UK, whose subtle bowl forms are enhanced by the use of oxides and colored slips on their outsides and then fired in salt; and Dorothy Feibleman, from the UK, who adds chemicals to laminated clay which causes them to produce black, wavy lines as the piece expands during the firing.
“Jane Perryman, from the UK, describes her own work thusly: It is “handmade using combinations of coiling, press-molding and slabbing techniques. A porcelain slip is applied before burnishing and then fired to 1000 C. Some pieces are treated with resists, then saggar-fired with sawdust to around 700 C. Other pieces are smoke-fired in oil drums or brick containers outside so that the firing is partly oxidized, giving greater tonal contrast than the saggar firing.”
Jane Perryman’s book Naked Clay has a high level of scholarship and research. It is well written, profusely illustrated, and can be a source of information and inspiration for both students and professionals. This book is a singular contribution to the literature in the ceramic field.”

Gerry Williams for the international electronic journal ‘Interpreting Ceramics’ – issue no.6

Published 2000 by A&C Black


Pottery has a long history in India. Over the centuries, it has been used for domestic ware, votive pieces and for architecture, and each area of the country is known for its different styles. In this book, Jane Perryman not only looks at Indian pottery but also at the communities who make it, their organisation, history and philosophy.
Traditional Pottery of India encompasses the diversity and beauty of India itself and most particularly the stunning pottery that is made there.
With glorious photographs of the Indian landscape and diverse pottery communities, this book should appeal not only to potters but also to students of other cultures and, indeed, anyone interested in India as a whole.

Price: £35
ISBN 0-7136-4521-0
Purchase ‘Traditional Pottery of India’ from Amazon or

This is an important book, as well as being a pleasure to read it also has many excellent colour photographs taken by the author.

The rich ceramic traditions of the subcontinent have for too long been ignored because of their concentration on earthenware and their lack of interest in glazes, stoneware and porcelain. This book, so refreshingly written by a practicing potter… more
who shares some of the interests and insights of the potters in India, makes a major contribution to the re-evaluation of this great tradition. Perryman’s easy writing style and innate interest in everything which the potter communities deal with, make the book a joy to read. This is not a stuffy academic work but one in which the hopes and fears of the Indian potters are immediately and unselfconsciously understood by the author.
The book is divided into two basic sections, dealing firstly with the vessels and secondly with the use of votive terracotta and sculpture. In both these areas Indian potters have made distinctive contributions – vessels are thrown on a hand spun wheel, but are beaten with a paddle and anvil to achieve their final, round bellied shape, and are frequently decorated with slip colours before firing.
Terracotta sculpture, which in the subcontinent reaches back into the 5th millennium BC, is still a living part of rural society, and is intimately linked with religious observance. Perryman has movingly recorded the production of the offerings made to deities, from the massive 5m. tall terracotta horses of Tamil Nadu in the south, to the intricate black-fired offerings made to the snake deity Manasa in Bengal in the north-east. For each of her two main sections – vessels and terracotta sculpture – she visited different parts of India, recording pottery production and getting to know the potters and their families. The position of potters in India is lowly and their future terribly under threat because of the increasing use of plastic and metal, so these descriptions have the added importance of being an archival record.
For me, the description of the two brothers in Chhota Udaipur was especially poignant as in the early 1980s, I also recorded their figurine production, for the Museum of Mankind (South Asian Studies/1985; 67-77). Examples of their work have been shown in two recent exhibitions – Deities and Devotion; the Arts of Hinduism (1993) and Pottery in the Making (1997, and published again in the catalogue of the same name, BM Press, p170-5)
Anyone concerned to experience the beauty and integrity of ceramic traditions different from their own will enjoy this book.
Richard Blurton, Department of Oriental Antiquities British Museum. Ceramic Review No.186 


Published 1995 by A&C Black


In this book Jane Perryman discusses a wide range of smoke firing methods. She uses the work of an international group of artists as well as that of traditional potters from Nigeria, India and the South West United States to illustrate the methods and to show the various qualities that can be achieved with smoke firing. She also discusses the possibilities of using this method with children of all ages.

The simplicity and comparative inexpensiveness of smoke firing make it particularly suitable for use in schools.

Smoke Fired Pottery has been designed as an introduction and practical handbook to the subject. It is also intended as a inspiration for other potters and a source of delight for all those interested in ceramics.

Price: £35
ISBN 0-7136-3882-6  NOW OUT OF PRINT

For me the most stimulating technical books not only offer clear practical information but also transcend their immediate subject to challenge our understanding of ourselves. Jane Perryman’s Smoke Fired Pottery is such a book.

Her interest in the motives of potters, as well as the methods they use, make it whole and strong. There are many terse references which provide a context as well as an inspiration; the economic, descriptive text unusually extending the high quality illustrations. more

The book is sensibly structured. It does not attempt inappropriately to impose scientific explanation on what many contributors describe as a spontaneous process (to me it seems more akin to the nurturing of plants); however I am not convinced that the perceived qualities of smoked ceramics are the results of reduced iron, as suggested, but arise principally from carbon trapping.
Perryman gives a brief but sound historic perspective on smoke firing as well as its contemporary use in societies which still retain a tradition of the technique; in so doing she makes clear that it is a way of making which involves an intimate understanding of materials and the environment; that a knowledge of firing cannot be isolated from the character of the clay, the form, the weather or the function of the pots. Most of the book, however is devoted to potters who work in the developed world and have adopted this so called primitive approach to firing clay for different reasons. She has chosen a range of makers from a number of countries whose methods and attitudes vary; for me when she was able to interview them and interpret their work her insight and sensitivity make the book richer causing the reader to ponder on how potters as well as their pots are made.
The penultimate section deals with the educational potential of smoke firing and is illustrated with a number of case studies representing different ages and abilities. It describes the accessibility of the process and gives value to an open, experimental approach when playing with fire, emphasizing the importance of individual observation and initiative; a useful entrée to the final gallery section of the book showing the work of professionals.
This book should inspire the reader. It shows a respect for technical knowledge but importantly also reveals why some contemporary potters are fascinated by the approach; a reminder that there is no smoke without fire.
Sebastian Blackie – Ceramic Review No.154


Selected Published Articles

2016 – Neue Keramik (Germany) August feature article by Linda Theophilus
2016 – Ceramic Review (UK) July feature article by Moira Vincentelli                                               2015 – Ceramics Monthly (USA) October feature article & cover by Esther Viros
2014 – La Ceramica (Italy) feature article as a finalist in the International Open to Art competition
2014 – Revista Internacional Ceramica no 132 (Spain) feature article
2009 – New Ceramics (Germany) – feature article ‘Smoke Fired Pottery’
2006 – Ceramics Technical no 22 feature article
2005 – The Studio Potter (USA) Volume 33 feature article
2005 – La Revue de la Ceramique et du Verre no. 142 May/June
2005 – New Ceramics / Neue Keramik May/June
2004 – Neue Keramik (Germany) – feature article ‘Jane Perryman’
2003 – Now Showing – Exhibition preview article in Ceramic Review no. 201
2002 – Form Pattern and Smoke – feature article in Ceramics Monthly (January edition)
2000 – Traditional Pottery of India – A & C Black (see review below)
2000 – Rites of Passage – article in Ceramic Review No.183
2000 – A Research Journey in India – article in Ceramics Technical No.10 (Australia)
1999 – A Homage to Indian Potters – article in Neue Keramik (Germany)
1996 – Houses on Fire article in Ceramic Review No.162
1996 – Smoke Fired Pottery – article in April issue of Ceramics Monthly (USA)
1995 – Smoke Fired Pottery – A & C Black (see Review)
1993 – Bodies, Vessels and Imagination – article in Ceramic Review No.141


Selected Publications featured in

2008 – Surface Design for Ceramics by Maureen Mills (Lark Books)
2007 – ‘Firing; Philosophies within Contemporary Ceramic Practice’ by David Jones Crowood
2006 – ‘Coiling’ by Michael Hardy (A&C Black)
2004 – ‘Alternative Kilns and Firing Techniques’ by James C Watkins & Paul Andrew     Wandless                  (Lark Books New York)
2003 – Revised Edition ‘Coiled Pottery’ by Betty Blandino (A&C Black)
2003 – 500 Bowls – Contemporary Explorations of a Timeless Design – edited by Suzanne J.E.                      Tourtillot (Lark Books)
2002 – Experience Clay by Maureen Mackay (Davis Publications)
2001 – The Studio Potter Magazine USA – feature article
2001 – ‘Barrel Pit & Saggar Firing’ edited by Sumi von Dassow (Ceramics Monthly publishing)
2000 – Women and Ceramics – Gendered Vessels by Moira Vincentelli (Manchester University                    Press)
2000 – Contemporary Ceramics by Susan Peterson (Laurence King / Thames & Hudson)
2000 – The Art of Handbuilt Ceramics by Susan Bruce (The Crowood Press)
1999 – The Complete Practical Potter by Josie Warshaw (Anness Publishing)
1999 – Ceramics Monthly (March edition)
1998 – Ceramica No.65 (Spanish)
1998 – The Potter’s Directory of Shape and Form by Neal French (Quarto)
1997 – Handbuilt Ceramics by Cathy Triplett (Lark Books, Altamont Press)
1996 – Coiled Pottery by Betty Blandino (A & C Black)
1994 – Second Shift No.4 (magazine about women and the arts)
1994 – Raku by Tim Andrews (A & C Black)
1994 – Sawdust Firing by Karen Hessenburg (Batsford)