Ceramics – Topics
Introduction to Ceramic Surfaces
Instructor: Megan Mitchell
ART2342 – 3 credits firstname.lastname@example.org
Tues. and Thurs. from 10:30am – 12:50pm
Office hours: Wed from 9am – 12pm or by appointment, lower Appletree
Course description and objectives
The aim of this course is to decipher the unique language of the ceramic surface. Students will study clays, slips, glazes, firing methods, and alternative surfaces to uncover their role in determining the character of a ceramic object. The course will include research of historical and contemporary approaches to the ceramic surface, as well as studio experimentation, concluding with an independent research project. We will also investigate possibilities for incorporating drawing, painting and printmaking methods on clay. Students will use handbuilding and wheel throwing techniques for studio projects, and the course is intended for beginning and intermediate students.
Mandatory: Sketchbook, plastic bucket, tool kit (available from book store) exacto knife, ruler and tape measure, plastic bags, scissors.
Additional materials may be required for some projects.
Lab Fee: $95. This fee covers all clay, glaze materials and firing costs.
This course will be divided into five units. Each unit will consist of lectures, independent research and studio work. Studio projects are designed to test our research and give an opportunity for creative expression. Students will give two presentations during the semester, one in conjunction with the final project, and one that relates to one of the other units.
Unit 1 – Clay
Consider clay a canvas – a base layer which will affect the character of the finished piece. During this unit, we will examine the chemical and physical properties of clay, and make small batches of clay to achieve different colors and textures. These clays will be used to make pinch pots to further identify the working properties of the clay.
Unit 2 – Glaze
We will examine historical precedents of glazes, and achieve an understanding of basic glaze chemistry. Our investigation will cover both making our own glazes and exploring decoration through glaze. This unit will also include an introduction to throwing.
Unit 3 – Slips
The introduction of slips allows for a wide variety of surface decoration techniques. This unit will cover formulation of slips and engobes, and will largely focus on methods of using slips, stains and underglaze, including brushing, dipping, resist methods, drawing with stains, sgraffito and mishima.
Unit 4 – Printing on clay
This unit will cover relief printing, silkscreening and lithographic processes, as applied to clay. We will investigate methods for transferring digital imagery to ceramics.
Unit 5 – Independent Project
The course will conclude with an independent project of your choice. This project is open to a wide range of interpretations, from reproducing an historic glaze, transferring painting or drawing skills to clay, or creating a trompe l’oeil surface. We will devote the last month of the semester to this project, but I encourage you to start your research now. You will give a presentation to the class about your final project, and also be required to turn in a bibliography of source material.
Your sketchbook is an integral part of this course. Document all of your research! This can take the form of drawings, notes, photocopies, photographs and virtual galleries, and hopefully all of the above. As well, all of your technical research in the studio should be carefully recorded.
This course consists of 100 points, which will be divided as follows:
Attendance, class participation and presentations: 25 points
Unit 1: 10 points
Unit 2: 15 points
Unit 3: 15 points
Unit 4: 15 points
Unit 5: 20 points
Within each unit, the grade will be judged on the following criteria:
- Research as documented in sketchbook/ virtual sketchbook
- Completion of assigned tasks
- Attention to detail and quality of craft
- Development of a personal interpretation of the project
Attendance is extremely important for this class; more than two unexcused absences will negatively affect your grade. If you will miss class for religious, family or medical reasons, please notify me in as far in advance as possible.
Participation in this class requires cleanliness and good studio etiquette. Please be considerate of others who use the studio. Students will be assigned cleaning chores on a rotating basis. Cell phone use is not permitted during class; computers are allowed for research only.