Charles Fergus Binns (4 October 1857 in Worcester - 4 December 1935 in Alfred, New York) was an English-born studio potter. Binns was the first director of the New York State School of Clayworking and Ceramics, currently called the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University. He began his position in 1900 and retired in 1931. His work included authorship of several books on the history and practice of pottery. Some of his more notable students included Arthur Eugene Baggs,William Victor Bragdon,R. Guy Cowan,Maija Grotell and Elizabeth Overbeck. This has led Binns to be called "the father of American studio ceramics".
Binns's ceramic technique focused on the vessel as a utilitarian object. His work include vases, urns, and bowls. Binns threw each piece in three forms on a wheel, turning them on a lathe and piecing them together afterwards. One of the concepts Binns taught was 'dead ground',[clarification needed] in which aspects of making that could not be precisely controlled, such as firing temperature or glaze calculations, were mitigated by control over glaze placement - e.g., glaze was to run to a certain point but not to encroach on the foot.
Binns wrote of the artistic limitations of china-painting, which many amateur artists, mainly women, practiced at the time. He argued that "no-one with a spark of artistic fire can be content to copy the design of another or to merely add the finishing touches to work begun in a factory", and that this feeling has caused china-painting to give place to pottery-making, in which, from "the consciousness of honest effort", the artist experiences liberation. His book The Craft of the Potter (1910) may have given rise to the first use of the phrase "studio pottery". In it Binns referred to "studio work" and the "artist potter", and a review of it in Adelaide Alsop Robineau's magazine Keramic Studio referred to "studio pottery".
Binns authored several books about ceramics. Among these was The Story of the Potter published by George Newnes in 1901, prior to his position at as director of the New York State School of Clayworking and Ceramics. He was an avid contributor to Keramic Studio.
Examples of Binns's work can be found in museums around the world, including: