Yup. I still get a check in the Christmas card from my folks, and one from Mr. ShellHawk's dad. I am so lucky!
I can honestly say I look forward to my Christmas money every year, because I use it to fund my book addiction. Yes, I have a Kindle (I got a new one for Christmas from Mr. ShellHawk to replace the old one, which was having battery issues), but there are certain books which must be read in the wonderfully tactile, old-school manner of turning pages. My recent purchase of Thug Kitchen's new cookbook is one of those, but there are other references I've wanted, and only real pages will do!
This year, I hopped on to Amazon to make a number of purchases I'd been wanting for anywhere from a few months to a few years. Some of them were more technical knowledge, something I feel I'm lacking and would like to remedy, some are biographies of potters and sculptors, and some are books on the value of handmade things.
One of the newer ones I've wanted was In the Potter's Kitchen, by Sumi von Dassow. I've been curious about making things for the kitchen, and this recent release looked like a good place to start.
Another technical book is Pioneer Pottery, by Michael Cardew. I've been told this is one of the go-to books for technical knowledge of clay and glaze composition, etc., and this is one of those things I'm going to make part of my studies this year.
Since I, like many others, am enamoured of Japanese (and Asian)ceramics, picking up a copy of Inside Japanese Ceramics: Primer of Materials, Techniques and Traditions, was a no-brainer. The simplicity and beauty of those old ceramics just sucks me in, and I can't wait to start this book!
Among the other technical books: Chinese Glazes: Their Origins, Chemistry and Recreation and Simon Leach's Pottery Handbook.
I try to balance technical studying with learning about the great artists--the trailblazers, really--upon whose shoulders I stand. California in the late 1950s through the '60s and '70s was a hotspot for ceramics experimentation, and as a result, we learned about the Americanized version of Raku. I use that version for my jack-o'-lanterns, as a matter of fact! One of the trailblazers was Peter Voulkos, who was my teacher's (Yoshio Taylor) teacher. Since that particular potter's lineage is so close to me, I feel it's a crime for me to know so little about Voulkos, so I picked up Clay's Tectonic Shift: John Mason, Ken Price and Peter Voulkos, 1956-1968.
I re-purchased my copy of The Gilded Vessel: The Lustrous Art and Life of Beatrice Wood, which had been gnawed on by my tiny little puppy, Sam (now 3 1/2 and 86 pounds small...), when he was a pup. I'd never heard of Lucy Rie before I ran across a reference to her in Ceramic Arts Monthly magazine, so I thought I'd get a biography on her. Lucy Rie: Modernist Potter is on the way! And since I already purchased a book by him, I thought I'd pick up a book about him: The Last Sane Man: Michael Cardew: Modern Pots, Colonialism, and the Counterculture.
Lastly, I got one book on the value of crafting by hand: The Craftsman, by Richard Sennett, and one book completely outside my usual field: Animation From Pencils to Pixels: Classical Techniques for the Digital Animator, by Tony White.
All these in addition to the business building books I got to learn how to run the ShellHawk's Creations Etsy store better and more effectively!
Yes, it's a tremendous amount of reading material, but if you only read ten pages a day, every day, that's roughly a book to a book-and-a-half a month! That's a bunch of new knowledge every year, isn't it?
And really, learning new things has always been one of the strongest drives in my life. Since I am not a college graduate, and going back to college would mean a couple of years' worth of remedial-level algebra (because I am not math girl, and I can't even remember basic algebra) to get through my AA degree, I need to expand my knowledge in other ways. So, this works!
I can't wait to dig in! Now, where to start...