Ceramic Arts

Art –151-3104 3106 &  • M & W • 3:00 – 8:20 p.m. Fall 04

Mt. San Jacinto College


Instructor: Andy Clift

Email: msjc@claystation.com Phone: (909) 672-6752 Extension 1588 - Mailbox#: 483

Web: http://claystation.com • Class Web Site: http://claystation.com/education/

Course Description

This course, Ceramic Arts, will explore the many facets of Ceramic Art. Throughout this course you will be exposed to many processes and techniques in creating ceramic art - such as learning how to throw on the potters wheel, hand building, glazing, and ceramic firing processes. As this course progresses, you will also survey a diverse range of contemporary Ceramics, in addition to learning some of the historical background of Ceramic Art. Furthermore, this course will illustrate approaches to exercise your creativity in constructing functional and nonfunctional ceramic objects, while integrating the fundamentals of art in each project.


This class can be repeated up to four times, allowing students to learn and perfect skills in the creation and decoration of ceramic forms.


Learning Objectives

   Familiarize and grasp a sense of working with clay and its processes.

   Complete and demonstrate an understanding of each project given.  

   Apply ceramics terminology in creating and evaluating class projects.

   Distinguish between and describe varieties of clay and their qualities.

   Employ safety procedures and practices.

   Learn to operate various studio equipment, such as kilns, the slab roller, and clay extruder.

   Distinguish and describe tools used.

   Learn about glazes and their characteristics  

   Learn the basic skills of hand-building, such as pinch, coil and slab construction.

   Engage in the process of creation by exploring one's ideas, thoughts, and feelings.

   Engage in class discussions, and critiques. * See critiques, under grading policies

   Participate in studio responsibilities such as cleaning up, loading and unloading kilns.

   Identify and define terms commonly used while making art and working with clay.

   Respect others in this class as well as the rest of the studio community.

   Gather a sense of the history of Ceramic Art, as well Ceramic Art being created today.

   Learn to research ceramic techniques, history, and other topics using books and the internet.







Course Projects (for all first time students)

Throughout this course you will attempt projects that include the following topics.

Hand Building - pinch, coil, slap construction and surface or texture exploration.

Wheel - Throwing: coning, centering, pulling, collaring, and trimming

Finishing/Glazing  - Slips/Underglazes, Washes, Cone 10 Glazes

Firing - Bisque Firing, High-fire, Raku

Other Topics - issues, Critiques, Use of Equipment, Historical Survey, Contemporary Ceramics, Raw Materials used and researching Ceramic Art on the Internet.


Projects this semester (Everyone)

• Ocarina

• Rolling Stamps

• 5 Bowls made on the potters wheel

• 5 Test Tube Tiles

• Geometric/Ornate covered container

• Coil vases: pit-fired or saggar fired


Handbuilding Track

• Action T-Pot

• Hollow Plant Sculpture

• Decorative plate w slip and carvings

• Historically inspired sculpture


Potters Wheel Track

• 5 cylinders

• 5 vases

• 2 Plates

• Historically inspired form


Advanced Students may choose to do any of these assignments, but can also write a proposal to do their own assignments. See below (Students with Previous Clay Experience) for more info.

Critical Dates

A schedule listing all projects and due dates will be handed out next week. The schedule is always subject to change, but here are some important dates to remember regarding holidays, registration, and the last day to drop this class.


Fall Semester Schedule – August 16, 2004 – December 18, 2004

Aug 16             Regular instruction begins

Aug 16–20    Late registration

Aug 27           Last day to add a full-term class

Aug 27             Last day to drop full-term class and get a refund

Sept 6              Labor day holiday

Sept 17           Last day to drop full-term class without a “W” grade

Sept 17           Last day to apply for credit/no credit for a full-term class

Nov 11             Last day to apply for Fall graduation

Nov 19             Last day to drop full-term class (some classes have an earlier date)

Nov 24             Last day to apply for credit by examination

Dec 13–18   Final Exams (Final Exam schedule available on 11/1, at msjc.edu

Jan 10              Grades available on Web (EagleAdvisor) and Phone


Grading Policies

Structured assignments will be given to the class during the semester.  Meaning all students will have projects due just about every 2-3  weeks. Hands-on projects will usually be graded based on the following outline:


• Goals of the assignment achieved                  • Incorporated fundamentals of design

• Personal Growth / Improvement                        • Degree of comprehending assignments

• Preparation - Journal/Sketches                        • Craftsmanship or quality of the work produced

• Timeliness - Due Dates Meet                            • Evidence of your creative input into the project

• Critiques - Participation/Presentation          • Degree of finish qualities within each piece


Assignments The instructor will demonstrate each project, provide written instruction, and present any other visual aid that may be applicable to the assignment. A due date will be given to you to complete each assignment. Failure to meet these deadlines will result in a grade reduction. In addition to the creation of clay projects, research, drawing, and written work will also be assigned.


Second Attempts: If a student has completed an assignment on time and they are not satisfied with the initial outcome, he or she may redo the assignment.


Critiques will usually fall on the same day as the deadline for most of the assignments. Your ability to present and discuss your project as well as your classmates projects will be evaluated and structured into the figuring of your final grade for each project. The critiques will be very informal, but make sure you do not miss class when a critique is scheduled, unless you want to severely damage your grade. We will have three critiques throughout the semester.


Studio Participation includes your willingness to help with studio chores, such as loading and unloading kilns and cleaning up after yourself as well as for others. Participation during discussions, and asking questions when they arise also counts as a part of studio participation.


Journal/Sketch Book: You are required to record information about lectures and demonstrations I give in class. Beyond taking notes your sketchbooks must include preparatory sketches of the projects assigned to you, as well as, recorded ideas, thoughts, glaze documentation, and technical issues you learn while creating each piece. You will be writing about one page a week, beyond your sketches, notes etc… I will give you more written information during the assignments as far as what to write in your journal. Not turning in your journal will result in a grade reduction of one letter grade.


Extra Credit: Throughout the semester students will get one, possibly two extra credit opportunities. All students may choose to partake in extra credit but may not choose to do extra credit instead of an assignment. Each extra credit assignment is worth a total of 10 points.


Exams: There will be no written final examination. Instead, a final critique will be held during the designated final exam period. Although there will be no final exam, a quiz or two during the course of the semester may occur. A mandatory cleanup day at the end of the semester will also play a part in determining your final grade.


Attendance: Attendance is mandatory! If you think this class is one you can miss often, come to late, or leave early, you are sadly mistaken. Ask anyone who has taken this class before and they will tell you how much time it truly takes to create a successful project. The demand for this class is very high so please drop this class today if you think you will be missing more than three classes throughout the semester.


Demonstrations and lectures will be given during just about every class period. If you have to miss class, please notify me during the class prior to the day you are going to miss, so I can make a note of it. It is your responsibility to find out what you have missed. Again, It is necessary to attend each class in its entirety - cleanup will begin 15 minutes prior to the end of class. Instructor Drop – If you miss 3 classes in a row the Instructor reserves the right to drop you from this class.


Drops: If you stop coming to this class don’t rely on the instructor to drop you because I may, or may not, chose to do so. Make sure that you are dropped from the course before the deadline date to drop, don’t assume that I will drop you. If you fail to do so you may end up with an F at the end of the semester.


Making up work In order to get credit for a missed critique you must write a one page paper that self critiques your projects for that critique. If a class is missed you can come in during open studio to catch up on work, but you will not receive credit for that missed class.


Cheating: You may ask how do you cheat in ceramics? Well here are a couple of examples of cheating that will get you in trouble. Another student makes your project for you. Or even worse, you put your name on someone else’s project and hand it in as yours. This will result in an automatic failure of the assignment. If you are caught cheating more then once you will automatically fail this course and other disciplinary action will be taken by campus administration.


Signing your work: You must put your first and last name on each piece you make, if you do not sign your work it will not be fired, therefore, it will not be graded, so please remember this, its for you own protection, trust me.


Grades: All of the above topics will be used in calculating your grades.





Students with Previous Clay Experience

Students with Previous Clay Experience:  If you consider yourself to be a intermediate or advanced student of clay and you have never had me as an instructor before you still must do and complete all the class projects to be successful in this class. If you would like to work on a couple of projects beyond what I give to you that is fine. Unfortunately your extra projects may or may not get fired due to lack of kiln space and lack of a budget that simply doesn’t provide us enough money to fire projects beyond the scope of this class.


Andy’s Returning Students: There are many pathways to choose from when working with clay, such as throwing on the wheel, functional hand-building, sculpture, and tiles, just to name few. That is why as one my returning intermediate or advanced, students, you do have the freedom of choosing your own projects unless I direct you otherwise. You are expected to at least keep a pace similar to, if not more, than the class projects I present in class. Due dates and critiques for beginning and higher level students will correspond. Two written proposals will be due throughout the semester, these proposals will deal with your research ideas, pathways, and your goals. This form can be found at http://www.claystation.com/forms/proposal.html


More advanced level lectures and demonstrations will be provided on every other Wednesday. Demonstrations may include: making plaster casts, slip casting, advanced throwing techniques ( large sectional pots and coil thrown pot methods), innovative hand-building techniques, advanced finishing techniques, and issues pertaining to contemporary ceramic artists. You are expected to participate in these demonstration, and lectures, as well as, all class-wide critiques.


(Due to a few students in the past who took advantage of this studio I have written the following policy that will be strictly enforced!) This class is designed to provide an environment where you can  explore, experiment, learn, and evolve. Any student not showing any signs of these four attributes will be dropped from the class or an F will be earned on your grade report at the end of the semester. If you are in any way profiting by taking this course you will also be dropped from the course and a letter will be written to the dean to permanently ban you from taking classes in the MSJC ceramics departments.  You may not sell any of the ceramic work you make in this class in private galleries or fairs. Although, applying to juried shows, participation in school related shows and clay club sale events, are encouraged.



Over the past couple of years I have created many tools for my students to find information on Ceramic Arts on the Web. Here is a list of direct links that will provide you will all sorts of tools and resources.

     • ClayStation.com - http://www.claystation.com  -  A huge web site containing info on hundreds of techniques, glaze recipes, ceramic history, hundreds of links to ceramic art images for inspiration, and much, much more.

     • The Ceramic Arts Education Center - http://www.claystation.com/education - a guide specifically designed for students of clay.

     • Ceramic Art - Book Store - http://www.claystation.com/books.html - an on-line book store with hundreds of ceramic art related books.

     • Tools for Working with Clay. - http://www.claystation.com/technical/tools.html - purchase a variety of tools specially designed for working with clay.


Materials Needed

A textbook is not required for this class. Instead, handouts will be given out covering various topics, during the course of the semester. If you are interested in purchasing a resourceful book on ceramics here are several I recommend. You can purchase all these books from my web site at http://claystation.com/book


The Craft and Art of Clay - Susan Peterson

Working With Clay Susan Peterson

The Complete Potters Companion Tony Birks

Hands in Clay Charlotte F. Speight – John Toki

Make it in Clay Charlotte F. Speight - John Toki

Ceramics, Mastering the Craft - Richard Zaki


Other reference materials, such as magazines, more books and videos are available at the MSJC Library.                                                           

• Ceramics Monthly (Magazine)                                                        

• Making Marks by Robbin Harper (6 Videos)

  • Form and Function (5 Videos)

  • Clay Times (Magazine)



Materials Required                                                                                                                  

• Tool Kit (Bookstore)

• Clay Receipt (Bookstore)

• Journal Sketch Book

• Drawing Pencil

• Garbage Bags

• Small Container with lid (8-16oz)

• Assorted Brushes (Bamboo watercolor brushes)

• Appropriate Studio Clothes (clothes you aren’t afraid of getting dirty, or wear an apron or and oversized shirt that fits over your clothes.)

• Scoring Tool (fork, comb, or Flexible steel toothed rib)

• Things to create texture (a rock, broken brick, bark, textured cloth, spring, thick rope, textured hard plastic.)


Recommended Materials

• Bucket/Container

• Old towel

• Spray Bottle

• Wooden Spoon

• Hake Brush 1-3 in.

• Other Kitchen Utensil