accessCeramics: A Contemporary Ceramics Image Resource

The Archive

Organized by the Art Department of Lewis & Clark College and the Visual Resources Center of Watzek Library, accessCeramics is an online image collection that documents contemporary ceramics. The site features a traditional metadata framework that one would expect from an academic digital image collection (Dublin Core and VRA Core are used). Content from accessCeramics is also available on Flickr, presumably because of the software and social media capabilities afforded.

A great feature of accessCeramics is that each image in the collection is assigned a Creative Commons license. This allows users to use content in various ways. Also, accessCeramics has a minimum quality standard to ensure that images are sufficient for classroom projection.  The archive defines this as having a short end of at least 768 pixels, a long end of at least 1024 pixels.


A major strength of this archive is the browse function; a great deal of effort has gone into metadata tagging. When you hover over the ‘browse’ menu, you can choose to browse by institution, collection, artist, glazing/surface, material, object type, technique, or temperature.

Ted Vogel, Silver Branch, 2006. Image available through accessCeramics at © 2006 Ted Vogel, licensed through Creative Commons.

Ted Vogel, Silver Branch, 2006. Image available through accessCeramics. © 2006 Ted Vogel, licensed through Creative Commons.

I found the above image by browsing the material silver leaf, which returned 9 image results. As an experiment, I tried to access the same image through as many other access points as I could, based on the tags in the description. I found it by viewing all of Ted Vogel’s submitted works; the techniques Slab-built and Press Mold; the temperature Cone 04; the surface treatment/glazing Electric Oxidation; the materials Earthenware, glass, and digital image; and the object type Wall Piece. In short, the metadata listed in the image details are true access points for browsing.

The other major browsing feature is by artist, which allows you to either view an alphabetical list, or a world map showing locations of artists who have submitted images.


The archive is by no means perfect. There is some inconsistency with the tags. For example, the tag ‘Slab-built’ is different from ‘slab built’ and will not lead you to the same results. It would also be useful if users could click on each tag in the image details to view other images in that category. These are small complaints, however, and do not detract from the robustness of this image archive. The options for browsing and viewing are varied and useful, and the image quality is fantastic. This repository is well worth a look!

One thought on “accessCeramics: A Contemporary Ceramics Image Resource

  1. Pingback: accessCeramics: A Contemporary Ceramics Image Resource | Lady Lazarus

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